Sensory design in the workplace

‘To live in an environment which has to be endured or ignored rather than enjoyed is to be diminished as a human being. The society which ignores this fact is at risk, for it is presuming too far upon human adaptability; drabness, confusion, and mediocrity make an imponderable but real contribution to the frustration and depression which produce stultified, sick, or apathetic citizens’. Sinclair Gauldie.

On Wednesday 7th October 2020, I was invited to speak at an online seminar organised by CIBSE Intelligent Buildings Group in conjunction with CIB Commission W098.

Transdisciplinary workplace research (TWR): Wellbeing

Health and wellbeing in the workplace has become an increasingly important issue in recent years as we realise the impact it can make on productivity and, indirectly, the costs to national health services. The Covid-19 pandemic has served to emphasise this fact even more.

TWR is a research community founded by Dr Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek at Eindhoven University that carries out research internationally on the factors that affect health and wellbeing using a transdisciplinary approach, introducing data from the fields of work psychology, medicine, design and planning for example. Speakers will present from the perspective of workplace psychology, health, and forthcoming research priorities.

This webinar will address what the research needs are. The questions are what do we know but what do we not know? What do we need to know? How can research answer these questions?

Speakers:

4.00 Nicola Gillen, Director Occupier Business at Cushman &Wakefield.
What are the unanswered questions?
4.15 Nigel Oseland, Workplace Consultant.
Lessons from Studies and Research in Psychology
4.30 Piers MacNaughton , View and Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.
How the office affects employee health and performance
4.45 Valerie Mace, University of the Arts.
What are the research priorities for sensory design of the workplace?
5.00 Panel Q/A
Moderator: Derek Clements-Croome, Chair of CIBSE IB Group and co-coordinator for CIB Commission W098 on Intelligent and Responsive Buildings and Board Member for TWR

KEY TOPICS DISCUSSED
What are the research priorities for sensory design of the workplace?

Wellbeing: the way individuals can feel about themselves in relation to their environment.

Sensory design: the practice of designing for all the senses, never forgetting that the human body is the primary means of perception, which is the phenomenological underpinning of experience, and that feelings and emotions are part of the perceptual process. Sensory design also considers that our experience of the world is always multi-sensory and that the senses interact with each other. The philosopher Gaston Bachelard poetically calls it ‘the polyphony of the senses.’

Ecology: the relationship between organissims and their environment. The ecological approach can consider the environment of the workplace as an ecosystem constitutive of physical space, behavioural space and emotional space brought into one.

Biophilia: the use of natural elements, real or figurative, in the design of spaces.

Phenomenological ecology: as ‘an interdisciplinary field that explores and describes the way that things, living forms, people, events, situations and worlds come together environmentally.’ David Seamon / Mark reigner

Culture and enculturation: the impact of culture on design practices and the way culture defines and even potentially constrains what we do and think.

Harry Francis Mallgrave argues that architecture as the practive and making of culture. Drawing on the meaning of the Latin etymology of the word culture, the growing, tending and cultivation of the land, Mallgrave defines culture in biological terms as ‘the built and social environments in which the human organism either flourishes or withers.’

Research priorities

  • To enhance qualitative awareness of environmental experience.
  • To the design of the workplace and people together into one sensori-emotional model, moving away from an ocurlarcentric paradigm to integrate multi-sensory stimuli.
  • To define contextual frameworks for the research, exploring opportunities beyond what we know and how we think about existing workplace design.                                     
  • To apply transdisciplinary principles by drawing on expertise form different disciplines.
  • To promote delibarate collaborations for organisations, architects, designers and stakeholders to work together to create cultures where the human organism can flourish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *