Final Thesis Book

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Hypothesis and Question

Nov 8th


The sighted and the visually impaired may share the same physical environment, but they experience it in considerably different ways. Since such a difference in perception exists between these two groups, how can architectural design focus on the senses and maximize a shared perception of environment?

Nov 5th


How can full sensory design create a shared architectural experience for those who are both sighted and visually impaired?


If full sensory perception is accounted for and well incorporated into a design, then the resulting building will provide a dynamic spatial experience that can be shared by both the visually impaired and the sighted because of heightened spatial awareness, clarity and engagement

Sketch Models

Model A: Experiments with glass and ocular distortion

Model B: Ocular deprivation googles- Loss of detail and depth perception

Model C: Frames of Vison- (From Left to Right)

1. Total Blindness: Maximum vision loss without ocular disconnect- Only tiny gradients of light between floor and light sources are noticeable

2. Information Disconnect: Simulation of what friend Richard sees – Blurring of vision and complete lack of detail. Color contrasts become emphasized

3. Ocular Damage: Distortion causes when foreign object scraps retina – streaking of light and increased sensitivity.

4. Spotted Vision: Attempt to replicate a glaucoma like vision where chunks of vision are missing forcing the engager to only experience small frames where blockage is lessened.


Conference Presentation- Download PDF here

Presentation – Mini-Conference                                                 

Slide One: “Spaces should act like a crazy quilt of sensorial impressions, each contributing to the total picture. A place which seems pleasing must do much more than appeal to the eye, a fact which designers often ignore.”

  • Ocularcentrism
    • Origins
    • Modern practice
    • Benefits of other senses in comparison to sight
    • Hapticity: Active touch
    • Aural perception of space: Sounds and vibration
    • Smell: Memory and emotion
    • First Question: How can creating multi-sensorial architecture generate spaces that break away from the flat ocular response of the modern world and shift towards a more dynamic and engaging form of experience?

Slide Two: “Disability arises when environmental barriers (social, political or physical) prevent a person with impairments from functioning in society in the same away as an able-bodied person.”

  •  “Visual impairment” – Someone who’s vision is below 20/200. This can result in ocular damage, degenerative disorders, or birth defect. It is a myth that those labeled blind can only see darkness. Light and raw form along with integration of the other senses allows for the development of spatial recognition.
  • Analysis and application of cognitive image development
    • Use senses to develop an image by piecing together information rather than immediate visual recognition
    • More engaging experience with architecture if not solely focused on the visual
    • Applying multi-sensorial design to spaces for the visually impaired
    • Designing for the disabled requires emphasis on detailing
    • Moving design past implementing ADA requirement and into improving the experiential realm
    • Second Question: How can we use multi-sensorial architecture to break the limitations of the visually impaired by educating them at a development age about non-ocular cogitation of space?

Slide Three: Hazelwood School

  • “A school to delight the senses, where taste, touch, smell, and an awareness of surroundings could help promote a sense of independence and act as sensory cues.”  – Alan Dunlop, Architect
  • Design of building based off of a curved spine (relation to disability)
  • Hallway: use of textured cork wall as main artery through building,
  • The blind’s sensitivity to light and color
  • Shifts and cues:
    • Raised clearstory and use of translucent glass to avoid glare
    • Use of tactile surface changes and vibrant color to signify program shifts
    • Building wraps and engages with nature to create nodes of space along path

Slide Four: Anchor Center for Blind Children

  • Early childhood development center for children ranging from infancy to age five who are blind or have visual impairments
  • “The poetry of this building comes from designing an environment where you enrich the experience by embracing as many senses as possible.” – Brit Probst, Project Architect
  • Similar to the Hazelwood School, the hallway is major design element. Again the importance of path.
  • Hallway details:
    • Inset walls
    • An illuminated light path
    • Shift from wood to stone at important access points
    • Use of reflected colored light above entrances to classrooms or other functional spaces
    • Acoustics designed to heighten sense of spatial void (large inset thresholds in hallway)
    • Motor skills room with tinted colored glass set into child size insets
    • Building serves as an interactive learning experience (both precedents)

 Slide Five: Thesis Images 1

  • Research throughout semester
    • Research into ideas of:
    • Multi-sensorial architecture
    • Ocularcentrism
    • Non-visual cognition of space
      • Description of images:
        • ADA requirements
        • Engaging Touch: Beauty of tactility
        • The Disembodied Eye:  Journey through retinal images
        • Sensory Perception: Active senses in urban environments

Slide Six: Thesis Image Program

  • Collage developed using precedents to describe elements of sensory/spatial design that I would want to incorporate into the program
    • Defined Path: which emphasizes main navigation cores—vertical and horizontal
    • Tactile expression of materiality: for experiential qualities and navigation cues
    • Control of light color: utilizing anti-glare and diffusing techniques along with contrast
    • Defining acoustic zones: to develop aural space
    • Integration of technology and arts: to encourage learning and development from a young age

Slide Seven: Bibliography

  • Research into ideas of:
    • Multi-sensorial Architecture
    • Ocularcentrism
    • Non-visual cognition of space
  • Main Sources
    • Pallasma – Perception/Multi-sensorial spaces
    • Simon Ungar – Blind perception
    • Joy Malnar – Multi-sensorial architecture