Sense Space

As part of my Masters of Research at the Glasgow School of Art, I have been able to take an elective course called Sense Space. It was an incredibly interesting series of lectures and tasks to do with the way we sense spaces, from the obvious sight to the smell, sounds, tastes and feel of buildings and places.

Le Corbusier’s Modular Man

Our tutor, Jo Crotch, is an architect who tried to inspire more thought about all of the ways we feel spaces, to take architects and designers away from computer aided design and bring about more knowledge of materials and materiality.

Throughout the course we learnt amazing facts about elephants listening through their feet, synesthesia, and that your nose works in cycles. We tried to measure the unmeasurable, record the unrecordable. We learnt something that I think we all already know – that buildings and objects should be haptic, phenomenological things. Nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses.

Below are some examples of architects and makers who use a multi sensory approach to work, but there are so many interesting things out there. 

Photo from Glasgow Schopl 

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his art school, in which he used light in an incredible way. The materials and smells created a building which made you feel it was living. The building is currently being refurbished after the fire and will be completed in 2017.

Zumthor Chapel

Peter Zumthor created this wonderful Chapel in Switzerland – a concrete structure which was originally constructed around a wooden teepee. The wood has been burnt out and the smokey smell and the texture on the concrete is all that remains.


Marie Antoine Careme’s pièces montées – incredibly crafted patisserie in the shape of buildings which would make you

Tactile Map

The website Sensory Maps has a whole range of incredible ideas of how to plot what things smell like.

This course reiterated things I already know about design – that you have to use materials that feel right, smells that comfort or excite, things that look welcoming if you’re trying to make someone feel at home, or objects that make a satisfying noise when touched.

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