Throughout history, human beings have lived in environments of sensory richness and variation. Outside of modern buildings and urbanized landscapes, the thermal, luminous, and acoustic environments of the natural world shift and change seasonally, diurnally, and from moment to moment. Established research points to links between the kind of multisensory environmental variation experienced in the natural world, and positive impacts to human physiological and psychological wellbeing. Unfortunately, modern design standards and comfort guidelines, and the built environments designed to meet them, permit only a very narrow acceptable range of variation in sound, light and temperature levels. This rigid control of the interior environment is believed to ensure human comfort, but leaves no room for human delight, resulting in environments of sensory monotony.
A more productive approach to teaching environmental technology requires a paradigm shift - away from the perception that consideration of environmental control strategies and technologies hamper design, and toward the recognition that embracing these concerns results in higher quality designed environment that surpasses comfort and constancy to better serve building occupants by creating sustainable multisensory spaces.
The authors teach in both building technology courses and design studios, and aspire for students to understand the lessons and the concerns of their respective technology courses as integral to the matter of architectural design. Transcending a set of technical and functional obligations, students must learn to appreciate the potential of environmental factors to inform and enrich the experience of designed space. It can be difficult, however, to generate the level of engagement and enthusiasm, or to achieve the depth of inquiry in the technology course that is common in the design studio. Moreover, students often fail to utilize and apply developing technical knowledge to inform studio design work.
This paper proposes a pedagogical process of teaching environmental technology courses with emphasis on both quantitative and qualitative concerns. This process will be illustrated and assessed through a series of case studies. These laboratory exercises were undertaken in building technology courses at multiple levels in undergraduate architectural curriculum.
Leach, James and Nelson, Kristin
"Commodity AND Delight: A Case for a Qualitative Basis for Environmental Technology Instruction,"
Building Technology Educator's Society: Vol. 2021
, Article 20.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/btes/vol2021/iss1/20