When experiences meet architecture and design, innovative and impressive dimensions are discovered depending on its function and interaction needs. All the products, spaces are designed by and for humans in forms on writing, reading, texture, or sound. Hypar Pavilion designed by Diller Scofidio+ Renfro in Lincoln Center, New York is a fine example of spatial interaction while using organic materials. While speaking about the role of touch in architecture, the user rarely senses the surfaces of the four walls. Interaction with the surfaces gives the user a different perspective and develops a deeper relationship with the space. The Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kusama play an important role in forming relationship with the space, as the installation gives the user a chance to communicate with the space as per their desire.

Human Experience of space - Inevitably Multisensory-Hypar Pavilion -1
Image Sources: Hypar Pavilion designed by Diller Scofidio+ Renfro ©Diller Scofidio+ Renfro

For many years people having been questioning, on how will sensual spatial design influence the future of human relationship to space? What are the roles of 5 senses in architecture? Is sensory experience only achieved by 3D objects?

“Considering multiple sensory modalities during the design process is likely to create richer, more interesting and more engaging user-product interactions, because these products exploit the full potential of people’s sensory connections with the surrounding world.”                                                                                                                 – Hendrik N.J. Schifferstein and Lisa Wastiels

From Spectator to Participant!

Visual/Sight: Form, Biophilia, Light
Aural/Sound: Volume of space, materiality
Haptic/Tactile: Materiality, Quality of light
Smell: Materiality, biophilia
Taste: Transference from all other senses’ experiences

The visual is the doorway to the other senses too…  The sense of sight leads the way to feel the rest. Invite you to sense more! Feel the space, see it, smell it, touch it, near it. The undulating landform, the textures, the earth, the nature, “all comfortable, super savvy, look sexy and do good to nature as well”.

1. Nanyang Technical University in Singapore

Human Experience of space - Inevitably Multisensory-Nanyang Technical University
Image Sources:
Nanyang Technical University, Singapore ©questerra.co


Close the eyes to experience the dark and shut out the visual to be able to focus on/feel the other senses. The visual being the most dominant of our senses, its only when it is not titillated that the others become alert and gain traction.

“Amongst countless other architectural treasures, Japan’s “Art Island” is home to a timber-clad building that stretches the sense we take for granted most: sight. James Turrell’s “Backside Of The Moon” contains a pitch-black space that renders you blind for what might seem like forever. Eventually, your eyes adjust – only then can the eerie gray light installation be observed, and the space you are sitting in begins to make coherent sense. The brilliant Tadao Ando painstakingly detailed this installation, and it shows: This structure represents the essence of how light and darkness can be harnessed to create truly powerful experiences”.

Human Experience of space - Inevitably Multisensory-James Terrell
Image Sources:
James Turrell, Backside of The Moon, Naoshima ©architizer.com

Ironically, both these approaches get the job done, in different ways.

2. Snow, by Tokujin Yoshioka, Sensing nature, at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum.

Japan has always learned to respect and have a close relationship with the nature. In this exhibition, Artist Tokujin Yoshioka along with Artists Taro Shinoda and Takashi Kuribayashi explores the sensibility and collective culture memory of the Japanese people through utilizing the Mori Art Museum’s six-meter-high ceilings and expansive galleries by showcasing large installations.

Snow by Tokujin Yoshioka is installed in a huge space of 15m width, consisting of fine feathers that are blown by wing and shower don as if real snow does. This installation accelerates the human minds to accelerate our memories and experience the beauty of nature which exceeds our imagination.

Human Experience of space - Inevitably Multisensory-Snow by Tokujin Yoshioka
Image Sources:
Sensing nature, Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum- Snow by Tokujin Yoshioka ©architectureau.com

 3. Singapore´s Changi Terminal 3

The interiors of Singapore´s Changi Terminal 3 applies elements to create a sensory airport experience, with a Singaporean ‘sense of place’ and is also user friendly with the required amenities.

Amazon Biosphere, Seattle, USA: Recreates the Amazon forest experience within a serious work environment.

Human Experience of space - Inevitably Multisensory-Changi Terminal
Image Sources:
Changi Termina l3 ©www.pinterest.com
Human Experience of space - Inevitably Multisensory-Changi Terminal
Amazon Spheres ©www.wikimedia.org

4. Social Sensory architecture: Addressing the needs of special groups

Architecture caters to everyone’s needs and helps create a user-friendly environment. There have been multiple projects that fulfil the needs of specially-abled people. The field of architecture has to cater to many requirements for the special groups but as these are being met, architects are developing need surfaces that allow the user to have a sense of touch while travelling through these structures. One should structure is Hazelwood School by Alan Dunlop Architects which helps students who are deaf and blind- dual sensory impaired Buildings designed for the deaf and blind offer sensory perception for special groups of population to also be able to navigate.

Human Experience of space - Inevitably Multisensory-Design Concepts
Design concepts for the blind ©economist.com
Human Experience of space-Hazelwood School -2
Hazelwood School by Alan Dunlop Architects ©arch2o.com
Human Experience of space-Hazelwood School -3
Hazelwood School by Alan Dunlop Architects ©arch2o.com


5. Design that takes care of the special needs for Autistic Children.

Human Experience of space - Inevitably Multisensory-Autistic Children -4
Image Sources: Ara, Sean Ahlquist’s daughter, interacting with the Social Sensory Architecture pavilion, Image Courtesy Mike Hensel/Sean Ahlquist, University of Michigan ©autodesk.com

Whether designed with special needs as a design requirement or a sensory design approach, the experience of spaces can be made more memorable and user-friendly by being sensitive to addressing more than just one human sense. This photo-essay is an attempt to bring to the fore, a need to change from a uni-directional approach to a multi-dimensional sensory one!


An architect by training,who has practised for over 20 years. Her chosen path nowis of a researcher, writer and creativity coach. Shebelieves that it is nowthe era of compassion - for humans to do away with attitudes of segregation and to heal all that we have ravaged!

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