This project is based on a phenomenological study of human experience unfolding while visiting a building. It explores what people notice and feel while moving through a space, and what external and internal factors influence that experience. The purpose of the project was to understand the interaction of human behavior and the interior environment, and how it applies to design. It integrates a phenomenological study with the process of creating an event map.
An event map is created by walking through a space, mindfully observing all the details, actively or passively participating in everything that is unfolding around, i.e. “the events,” and recording them through a mix of images and writing.
The collage illustrates the events encountered during my two visits to the Shaw Center of the Arts in Baton Rouge, LA.
It contains three levels of text: the first one is a stream of consciousness from the initial experience, the second was written after coming back from the site visit, and the third one emerged as a result of working on the collage and filtering the initial experience through later reflections, which is represented in form of personal narrative on “napkins” attached as a top layer of the collage.
The images comprise photos and drawings done during the two visits, organized and edited in Photoshop, and then printed on regular and vellum paper and transparent plastic sheets.
The Grand Walk: An Experience of Scale
The pre-reflective experience was much lighter in tone, more humorous and less organized than the later writing. I focused on asking and answering simple childish questions like “What’s going on?” and “Why?” The later writing was more organized and reflective and resulted in a more coherent narrative going through subsequent spaces and reflecting on what experiences they brought.
This project reminded me that every building experience an architect or an interior designer creates transforms itself as the user changes and enters in various interactions with the building and other people. And, at the same time, all design decisions result in different experiences of the space and can affect the mood, body, and behavior of the users, and sometimes even how they approach other people in the building—each of which contributes to creation of an environment.
Experiences can vary from user to user, but a well-designed place will make the people spending time in it feel better, more centered, and more energized. Badly designed places can overwhelm and drain people of positive energy. That may result in how they behave and what memories they form while visiting or staying in the building.