Multimodal Experiment

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To get in touch with the basic psychological phenomena which affect a multimodal environment two quite simple AD rooms were designed. Both a relaxing and a stimulating atmosphere were created by adjusting five  parameters: materials, colour illumination, music and furniture colour and material.
The goal of this experiment was to find out the way participants reflected upon their experience of being in a designed room. These reflections were collected in a qualitative method and analyzed according to a holistic approach in order to better understand the experiential process.
The relaxing room

In the relaxing room the seat was upholstered with a synthetic, even and flat fabric. The color of the seat was a light turquoise. The room was illuminated by using only blue fluorescent tubes in the luminaries. The  illumination of the room was measured at two different spots: through the divider material (30 lux) and from above the seat (15 lux). The music played in the relaxing condition was Brian Eno’s Ikebukuro.

The stimulating room

In the stimulating room an identical round seat was used. However, the upholstery was a bright and structured red cotton. A piece of the same kind of bright and structured red cotton fabric was placed on the floor between the seat and the mirror as a mat. The illumination in the stimulating room was created by mixing red, white and blue tubes.  The illumination provided through the divider material was 135 lux and above the seat 70 lux. The music in the stimulating condition was Lindsay Buckland’s Trans Amazonian Highway.

Participants and procedure

Twentyone participants (10 females and 11 males) were gathered from the various student mailing lists within the Helsinki University of Technology. In the actual test situation the participants were asked to sit down in the room and fill in a stress monitor questionnaire.

Analysis

The participants in the relaxing room perceived their environment in an integrated way. They also paid attention to characteristics that were more of a combination of different stimuli than individual stimuli. For instance softness was often described as a result of materials, illumination and music. The participants perceived the music as being the most noticeable perceptual modality in the room.

In the stimulating room the perceptual descriptions and the focus of the participants’ attention were more concentrated on individual descriptions of a few stimuli. These stimuli were materials such as, the divider, illumination, the overall simplicity of the design and colors. The participants in the stimulating room perceived the music as being the most noticeable perceptual modality. Also colours, materials and the space divider drew their attention.

The laboratory conditions with surveillance systems, used in this experiment, could be more useful in other research paths, which could also be beneficial for the development of AMDE. The hybrid method should be applied to gain more knowledge concerning single modalities, e.g. sound, luminance, colours, materials and their interaction in more strictly determined environments.

Classic Panel

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Wall panel .The CLASSIC PANEL is the recipient of the 2003 ROEDER AWARD as well as the European REDDOT AWARD.  When in the TONE mode, the panel changes colors to voice and rhythm of music.

Ambience Design

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Ambience design communicates with all senses. Holistic experiences which take into account hearing, sight, taste, scent and touch are created using transdisciplinary design. Ambience design means a shift from mere visual impressions to lived experiences.
Smart materials and spaces can be successfully exploited in ambience design. The goal is to increase the interaction between environments and their users.
The central feature of ambience design is to create a changing identity. Tapio Mäkelä has stated:
“We need to design for time and place, or rather, for situations, durations, and different localities. Because the rhythm of life is accelerating, design has to better take into account fast user interactions while people are mobile and the varied multisensory and social conditions we inhabit. Furthermore, slowing down the pace of life and creating more static spaces can counterbalance the increasingly fragmented and dispersed everyday urban work and leisure. In my opinion, realizing this is central in order to design for increased welfare”
(Mäkelä 2006

Peter Zumthor Atmospheres

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I have just read Peter Zumthors book ‘Atmospheres’ that give some interesting insights into what he thinks determine the make up of a successfully appropriate atmosphere. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ was a quote from the book that reinforces my premise that the ambience is only appropriate as far as the specific occupant.

I outline his 9 points of consideration for ambience:

1.  The Body of Architecture

Materiality, the make up of the architecture – Architecture as a Human Environment

2.  Material Compatibility

The relationships between the materials and the architecture/inhabitants and the surroundings

3.  The Sound of Space

The shape peculiar to each room and the surfaces of the materials they contain shape the acoustics and therefore atmosphere

4.  The Temperature of Space

The feeling in relation to the human bodies comfort level

5.  Surrounding Objects

Organisation of Space

6.  Between Composure and Seduction

How architecture involves movement

7.  Tension between Interior and Exterior

The interplay between the two and the boundaries created

8.  Levels of Intimacy

Proximity and distance. Eg: Lower ceilings make concentration amplified

9.  The Light on Things

How materials reflect light and the benefits of natural over artificial

Daylight Linking

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Jean Nouvels “Institute de Monde Arabe” in paris. Visibility and ambience controlled by actuators. These diaphragms operate like a camera lens to control the sun’s penetration into the interior of the building. The changes to the irises are dramatically revealed internally while externally a subtle density pattern can be observed.

Detail to show the facade of the “Institute de Monde Arabe” showing an actuator to control the openness in the façade.

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