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Enhancing Well-being: A Multisensory Interior Environmental Experience

An Application of Juhani Pallasmaas theory of Architecture to Interior Spaces

Special Thanks

My gratitude must be extended to all those who crossed my path during this learning experience, those of whom I dont even know their names.
Each offering in their own way dimensions of understanding and kindness or in contrast a lesson for me to learn that contributes to this project in
an indirect way. A special thanks to Bob Scarfo, chair of committee, who committed to the process and supported me in ways I needed when the
road became a little bumpy. Nancy Blossom and JoAnn Thompson must be recognized for their stimulating exchange when I needed input on
interior issues. I would also like to thank the faculty, who on occasions offered challenging conversations to enrich the creative process, David
Wang, Matt Melcher, Janetta McCoy and Nancy Clark Brown. Also thank you to Pam Medley and Kristie Wardrop who helped in keeping my head
on straight when necessary.

I must also recognize the incredible women, my colleagues Ami Keiffer, Sunshine Christensen, Becky Bunker and Jesse Peck, who held me up
from the wings with their love and great humor. And of course a special southern thank you to my dear friends back home. My deepest gratitude
must remain with my mother, Janet Nichols, who has never given up on me. She has supported me emotionally, financially and spiritually.

Table of Contents:

Page Number

Overview .. 6-8
Justification ..

Literature Review .. 9-17

Eyes of the Skin - Juhani Pallasmaa .

RSVP Cycles - Lawrence Halprin ..
Sensory Design - Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka ..
Healing Gardens - Clare Cooper Marcus and M. Barnes..
Art as Experience - John Dewey .

Summary of Literature Review 18-21

Key Definitions 22-25

Wellness ...
Multi-sensory .
Score .....
Phenomenology .

Research and Methodology 25-31


Methodology ..

Stage One
Stage Two
Stage Three
Stage Four

Project Description .. 32

Site and Program . 33-34

Site Assessment
Site Requirement
Program Guidlines

Analysis of Project .. 34-35

Further Applications

Conclusion . 35-36

Bibliography 37-38


April 4, 2008
Washington State University
Interior Design Masters Program

Enhancing Well-being: A Multisensory Interior Environmental Experience

Key Terms: Life-enhance, wellness, multi-sensory, score, phenomenology.

As civilization moved from agrarian to a predominantly technologically dependent society, the issues of well-being arose from spending
considerable amounts of time indoors. Studies indicate 87% of peoples daily time is spent indoors (Jenkins et al., 1992, NAHPS, 1994). Poor
interior design can affect the well-being of people working, playing and carrying out their daily lives in ways that result in absentees, illness and
agony. To an extent peoples well-being, their human-to-environment relationship is mediated by design. How can interior designers attention to
human awareness and sensory capacities enhance ones experience of interior spaces in ways that sustain a healthy relationship? Can lifeenhancing interiors support and heighten wellness in everyday living?

Danish architect, scholar and teacher, Juhani Pallasmaa (2005) proposes life-enhancing architecture has to address all of our senses
simultaneously and fuses our experience of self with our experience of the world (p.11). Pallasmaa argues that the visual sense is given primary
attention in the built environment and as a result does not allow for most environments to contribute to peoples experience as completely as it
could (p. 11, 2005). According to Pallasmaa design education and practice need to provide a more sensorial balance to peoples interaction with

the built environment (2005). The typical overemphasis on vision suppresses the other senses creating an imbalance in the human-to-environment
relationship. While design does, to a great extent desensitize people to their surroundings, there is a growing awareness in our culture of the
neglect of a full sensory experience. Designer and Professors, Joy Marnice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka ,from the book Sensory Design, believe
the Cartesian view of typology is fundamentally at odds with the human experience and responsible for a number of poor designs. What would
our built environment be like if sensory response, sentiment, and memory were critical design factors, more vital even than structure and
program? (p. xi, 2004). The premise of this paper is to demonstrate through research and application that design education and practice can
provide this awareness to interior spaces

In arguing for the resensualizing of the built environment Pallasmaa places architecture in the realm of art, suggesting the experience of art allows
for a full engagement into the mental dimensions of dream, imagination and desire (p. 11, 2005). This engagement creates meaning and a sense
of place. A place is a location where experience happens. Yi-Fu Tuan says, What begins as undifferentiated space becomes place as we get to
know it better and endow it with value (1977: as cited by Moher and VodVarka). Pallasmaas declaration is an argument towards a holistic
approach to the design of architecture, making the human-to-environment relationship priority. As architects, we do condition others lives; this
definitively projects a decisive ethical dimension onto our work (Pallasmaa, 2005). Pallasmaa suggests the great function of all meaningful art is
to experience ourselves as complete embodied and spiritual beings (p. 11, 2005). The bringing of architecture into the realm of meaningful art
involves a triadic relationship; the speaker (the art), the thing said (the experience) and the one spoken to (the person experiencing).1 John
Dewey says, In short, art, in its form, unites the very same relation of doing and undergoing, outgoing and incoming energy that makes an
experience to be an experience (p. 50, 1934). As Dewey unfolds the artists process, he is suggesting that it is the qualities of this process that

The subject of art as experience is discussed further in the Summary of Literature Review.

are perceived and experienced when art is brought to form. The form, the built environment, must maintain this process when designing a
meaningful work of art. Pallasmaa offers a palette in which to achieve this outcome which are design characteristics that resensualize the built
environment; texture: density of space, weight, hapticity, materialized light and materiality. The researcher suggests by applying these design
characteristics and thoughtful consideration to the senses during the design process an interior space is enhanced and has a greater potential to
contribute to the well-being of people.

To enhance an interior environment, the designer must consider and employ all of ones senses throughout the design process; such a process
must consider an interplay or orchestration of the senses with organization and progression of materiality and assembly. To demonstrate this
process in design the methodology will be drawn from a design palette and score developed from the literature of Pallasmaa, Halprin, Malnar and
Vodvarka. For this project a score, or scores, will take shape through a design tool that is utilized in the design process.

To test Pallasmaas theory the proposed project is a Space for Wellness on the WSU Riverpoint Campus. The campus community has identified a
need for a facility offering a place of respite, reenergizing and rejuvenation.

The value of this exploration is two-fold. One issue is peoples quality of life. Literature indicates peoples quality of life heightens when the senses
are positively stimulated (C.C. Marcus, 1999, Montagu, 1985). The second issue is a greater understanding of interior space as it relates to
sensory experiences. There is limited research in interior design on how people come to know space and time through sensory experiences. What
has been found in the literature provides evidence of a vision dominant culture and vision preference in design (Pallasmaa, 2006, ONeill 2001,

Montagu, 1985). Developing a greater awareness of visual dominance in the current typology of design, not only in the negative impact on humanto-environment relation but in human development which is stunted through deprivation of sensory systems, will only enhance and increase quality
of life. The research presented offers a method to bring the knowledge of sensory experiences into physical form. In affirming the value of sensory
response, designers choose a sensory approach to interior design intended to positively stimulate sensory capacities generating experiences that
support and enhance growth, or in Pallasmaas language, a life-enhancing moment.

Literature Review:
Following is a review of Juhani Pallasmaas Eyes of the Skin, a book of short essays built on the premise of the need for life-enhancing
environments. Included in support of Pallasmaas theory is four books; First, RSVP Cycles by Lawrence Halprin, describes a design process and
tools developed to generate a hope-oriented outcome (p. 4, 1969). The process focuses on human awareness and the orchestration of
movement in time and space. Second, Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka in their book, Sensory Design, explore the areas of spatial
constructs, perceptions of space and an extensive look into the experience of space through sensory capacities. Third, Healing Gardens, by Clare
Cooper Marcus and M. Barnes focuses on the healing properties of gardens in relation to healthcare facilities. Marcus and Barnes have provided
extensive research on the benefits of healing gardens as well as recommended design principles. Last, Art as Experience by John Dewey is a
philosophical investigation into the process of creating, expressing and experiencing what we as a culture identify as art.

Eyes of the Skin - Juhani Pallasmaa

Juhani Pallasmaa is a Finnish architect, scholar and teacher who looks at the world much the way an artist might, with wonderment. Pallasmaas
focus is architecture as an existential experience, phenomenology. His concern is the de-humanization of the built environment. As indicated

earlier, the paradigm in which teaching, designing and building architecture primarily uses visual perception; a vision-centered approach to design
is a primary concern of Pallasmaas. This paradigm fosters the de-humanization of the built environment. Pallasmaa adopts the term ocularcentric
from Martin Jay, in describing this approach to design. This view suggests a suppression of the other four classical senses. The bias towards
vision within the above-mentioned paradigm prompted Pallasmaa to write his polemical essays in Eyes of the Skin. The essays address concerns
about the consequent disappearance of sensory and sensual qualities in art and architecture (Pallasmaa, 2005).

The human body is equipped with sensory systems that inform us how we experience our self in the world. Architecture is one mediator of this
existential experience of self. An architectural work is not experienced as a series of isolated retinal pictures, but pleasurable shapes and
surfaces molded for the touch of the eye and other senses, but also incorporates and integrates physical and mental structures, giving our
existential experience a strengthened coherence and significance (Pallasmaa, 2005). If architecture is to act as the mediator of this experience of
self then is it not the ethical responsibility of those teaching and designing to hold principles and concepts of architecture to the highest standards?

Western culture has created a paradigm in which teaching, designing, and building architecture uses primarily visual perception, a vision-centered
approach to design. The gaining interest in the significance of the senses, philosophically and in terms of experiencing, teaching and designing
architecture support Pallasmaas concerns of a vision-dominant culture. For example, The Dimensional Body by Coleman Coker (1999) states,
What is undeniable about the world is its physicality. More specifically we sensually apprehend the world's physicality; we're in the world because
of our own physicality. We perceive its condition as thinking bodies and, as our senses seem intangible and ever changing, it's nonetheless our
physicality that is in the world. And just like us who are physical beings, multi-dimensional, the very same is true for the things which we call
buildings (p. 1). In addition, Joy Marnice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka, Sensory Design, believe the Cartesian view of typology is at odds with the


human experience and responsible for a number of poor designs. What would our built environment be like if sensory response, sentiment, and
memory were critical design factors, more vital even that structure and program? (p. xi, 2004). Body, Memory and Architecture by Kent Bloomer
and Charles Moore (1977) is an examination of the significance of the human body in architecture. Bloomer and Moore state, At the same time
we have been observing that the human body, which is our most fundamental three-dimensional possession, has not itself been a central concern
in the understanding of architectural form; that architecture, to the extent that it is considered an art, is characterized in its design stages as an
abstract visual art and not as a body-centered art (p.ix, x). This comment acknowledges Pallasmaas theory in two ways; the ocular-centric
approach to design and architecture being in the realm of art and reiterating Pallasmaas view of the experience of art as being a full engagement
of the senses.

To demonstrate an application of sensory awareness to design Saint Ignatius Chapel (1997), designed by Architect Steven Holl, is presented. Holl
communicates through materiality and form the significance of a sensory experience in the built environment. Touch being one of the strongest
sense indicators (Montagu, 1965); Holl chooses beeswax for wall surfaces and natural light filtered through colored glazing to wash interior
surfaces. The effect is intended to stimulate the senses and fuse ones sense of self with ones sense of the world and in this case with ones
sense of spirit.

Saint Ignatius Chapel

Figure 1

Figure 2



Figure 3


Figure 4

Pallasmaa acknowledges that his declaration to reinvigorate the art of architecture is a moral imperative. As architects, we do condition others
lives; this definitively projects a decisive ethical dimension onto our work (Pallasmaa, p. 71, 2005).

RSVP Cycles - Lawrence Halprin

Lawrence Halprin is an environmental designer and planner involved in the wide ranging landscape where people and nature interface. Halprin is
most noted for developing a process-oriented rather than goal-oriented method of design. This method includes the RSVP Cycles, which is a
way to analyze and access the design process allowing active participation from the client and if appropriate the community. Halprin works closely
with his wife Ann Halprin, a dancer and choreographer, to better understand processes in theatre-dance and environment. Both derive their
strengths and fundamentals from a deep involvement in activity. In both fields, the process is like an iceberg-9/10 invisible but nonetheless vital to
achievement (Halprin, p.1, 1969). The RSVP Cycle works hand in hand with the score feeding each other along the way. The Cycle is intended to
address any unknowns or bring to light a possible hidden variable. The four counterparts of the Cycle are as follows:

RESOURCES - Human and material resources available to inform the creative process; resources includes the physical inventory and a project program,
(requirements, objectives and expectations).

SCORE - As in a musical score or the choreography of dance; the score orchestrates design, participation, events and activities that visibly delineate, generate
and sustain a project.

VALUACTION - As an integral part of the process, peoples values and belief systems, as well as community needs and desires must be integrated with a
decision-making process.


PERFORMANCE - The evolution of project outcome over time; this component of the Cycle anticipates a holistic, non-static solution; an environment or result
that is defined by those who use it, experience it, and appreciate it.

The usefulness of Halprins notion of scoring and the collaborative efforts made with Ann Halprin are, for this research, an understanding of score
as it applies to the creative process of interior design. A score is a measure of symbols used to communicate, guide and possibly control an
experience. The future of this project will include further development of methods to communicate sensory experiences through space and time
using symbolism.

Sensory Design - Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka

The book Sensory Design, discusses what sensory design is, why it is important and how it may be applied using design techniques developed by
Malnar and Vodvarka. What sort of architecture will grow from this attention to our entire human awareness and sensory capacities? (Malnar and
Vodvarka, p.xi, 2004). The premise of Sensory Design is that the Cartisian view of typology that has existed for the past two centuries is
fundamentally at odds with the human experience. The authors explore assumptions and data that underlie sensory response to spatial types
which include those found in nature as well as the built environment. Although the entire book is valuable in regard to this project certain chapters
are cited and prove to be of most use. Chapter three, Sensory Response, offers a summary of information gathered by Gibson, Piaget, Canter and
Tagg, and David Howes. The result is an understanding of how people respond to their environment, Figure 5. Malnar and Vodvarka regard these
studies by their significance of human response to the built environment and the willingness to consider sensory data (whatever the perceptual
system and mediating structures) as an authentic response of people to the environment in which they are placed (p. 58).


Sensory Cues, chapter seven, takes the reader through the range of each sense by maintaining J.Gibsons categories of the senses, Figure 6.
The final chapter useful for this research is chapter eleven, Sensory Schematics. This chapter describes sensory perception, memory and place.
Malnar and Vodvarka communicate through several schematic diagrams the connections between
memory, cultural context, coherence, content and organization and how these connections lead to
place or rather inform place. To summarize this chapter the authors say, Two aspects of this construct
are immediately apparent: first, that there is considerable interaction between perception and culture:
and second, that sensory modalities are fundamental to both domains (p. 237, 2004). Another
interesting tool devised by Malnar and Vodvarka is the Sensory Slider. This instrument is used to
measure a range of sensory impact within a space. The slider is composed of eight bars, each one
describing the extent of figure/ground clarity. The Slider allows for a space to be charted in a more
analytical manner (Malnar and Vodvarka, p. 247, 2004). This instrument could be useful in the preRange of Senses

Figure 6

design stage of planning.


Healing Gardens - Clare Cooper Marcus and M. Barnes

Clare Cooper Marcus, whose concern is the psychological and sociological aspect of the built environment, is most commonly known for House as
a Mirror of Self, a qualitative study of the feeling people have about their homes. Healing Gardens, C.C. Marcus and M. Barnes, is designed to
stimulate discussion of the healing qualities of nature. Marcus and Barnes begin with a historical and cultural overview of gardens reminding the
reader the healing benefits of nature has a long and documented history. The premise of Healing Gardens is the ancient idea of healing by
nature, Nature is not just something around us, we are part of nature and it is part of us (Cooper and Barnes, p.9, 1999). The authors argue there
has been a disregard of the value of nature in the design of medical facilities. Cooper and Barnes support this claim through case studies,
statistical data measuring stress and use of outdoor versus indoor space and also building from quantitative studies by Roger Ulrich, found in
chapter two. The imperative need to accommodate modern technology in healthcare facilities overshadowed traditional beliefs about the
importance of including presumed therapeutic features such as gardens (Ulrich, p. 27, 1999). Ulrich (1999) offers theoretical support to Coopers
research by proposing these four outcomes that are stress mitigators for patients.

Sense of control and privacy

Social Support

Physical movement and exercise

Access to nature and other positive distractions

The value of Healing Gardens for this project is a greater understanding of the restorative and healing qualities of nature and how to successfully
integrate this knowledge into the design process. Cooper Marcus suggests the following as healing qualities of a garden:

Facilitate stress reduction which helps the body reach a more balanced state.


Help a patient summon up their own inner healing resources.

Help a patient come to terms with an incurable medical condition. (The Healing Garden: Essential Design Elements and Environmental Qualities, 1999)
Provide a setting where staff can conduct physical therapy, horticultural therapy with patients.
Provide staff with a needed retreat from the stress of work
Provide a relaxed setting for patient-visitor interaction away from the hospital interior. (Cooper Marcus, Healing Gardens in Hospitals, 2005).

Art as Experience - John Dewey

Art as Experience by John Dewey brings to light the human-to-object relationship; the object of focus is art. The researcher found the literature
dense, interesting and certainly relevant. For the purpose of this paper chapters two, three and eleven are significant in the research. In chapter
two, The Live Creature and Etherial Things, Dewey addresses a disconnect between the higher and ideal things of experience with basic vital
roots. Dewey argues that a disconnect, or repulsion of one to the other is an issue of morality and values. Dewey speaks of this in the way
systems have been organized in the institutional life of mankind, a system of checks and balances (p.21, 1934). Compartmentalization of
occupations and interests brings about separation of that mode of activity commonly called practice from insight, of imagination from executive
doing, of significant purpose from work, of emotion from thought and doing (Dewey,p.21, 1934). Dewey begins here to discuss the separation of
a sensory experience as a result of a compartmentalized system. He goes on to support the importance of this experience by pointing out our
distinctive nature and potential. What is distinctive in man makes it possible for him to sink below the level of the beasts. It also makes it possible
for him to carry to new and unprecedented heights that unity of sense and impulse, of brain and eye and ear, that is exemplified in animal life,
saturating it with the conscious meanings derived from communication and deliberate expression (p.23. 1934). Dewey brings art into the


discussion in terms of what is prefigured in the very processes of living. His description of art is defined as process. We may hesitate to apply the
word art, since we doubt the presence of directive intent (p.25, 1934).

Chapter three, Having an Experience, is best summarized by this simple sentence, Experiencing like breathing is a rhythm of in takings and
outtalking. Their succession is punctuated and made a rhythm by the existence of intervals, periods in which one phase is ceasing and the other is
inchoate and preparing (Dewey, p.58, 1934). Dewey is looking at an experience as a whole. In vital experience the practical, emotional, and
intellectual cannot be divided from one another. The understanding or experience of art Dewey suggests must go through the whole of parts and
cannot be isolated or compartmentalized. In the relationship of human to object Dewey says, In every experience there is form because there is
dynamic organization (p.57, 1934). Dewey is reminding the reader of the processes of growth itself within the experience; inception, development
and fulfillment. This is the rhythm of an artist, An engraver, painter, or writer is in process of completing at every stage of his work (Dewey, p.58,
1934). Dewey affirms that an experience of an object (art) has a spiritual quality when lifted high above the threshold of perception and are made
manifest for their own sake (p. 59, 1934).

Chapter eleven, The Human Contribution, discusses the aspects and elements of esthetic experience usually called physiological; for example,
intuition, imagination, detachment and desire. In this end, the human contribution in art is also the quickened work of nature in man (Dewey, p.
281, 1934).


Summary of Literature Review:

This section is a summary of the literature review and the connections made in support of Pallasmaas theory of sensory design. Key points from
the literature review are as follows:
1. Ocularcentric.

7. Sensory cultural construct.

2. Sensory experience.

8. Nature as healer.

3. Creative Process.

9. Compartmentalization of experiences.

4. Time, Space and Movement.

10. Experience itself is a process.

5. Sensory Design.

11. Art is a process of everyday living.

6. Sensory response.
How do these key points support Pallasmaas theory which proposes that, life-enhancing architecture has to address all the senses
simultaneously and fuses our experience of self with our experience of the world (p.11, 2005)? In addition, how do these points begin to answer
the questions; how can interior designers attention to human awareness and sensory capacities enhance ones experience of space in ways that
sustain this relationship? Can life-enhancing interiors support and heighten wellness in everyday living? 2

The term ocularcentric introduced in Pallasmaas Eyes of the Skin, sets the stage for a discussion of the de-humanization of the built environment
by suppression and/or deprivation of sensory modes in the human experience of space. Pallasmaas solution to this problem is perceived by the
researcher as poetic, romantic, and rich. Pallasmaa offers design elements and a design palette that may contribute to a life-enhancing

In response to these questions the key points will be addressed in context, not necessarily in the order presented above. Key points are italicized.


experience. The elements offered are hapticity, texture, density of space, materiality, materialized light and weight. The design palette is
developed by the researcher taken from the literature of Eyes of the Skin. The palette is conceptual elements designed to be used together or
alone, the choice is dependent on the design3. The design elements and palette are presented in reference to other designers, such as Stephen
Holl, Peter Zumpthor and Tado Ando, who have successfully used these tactics in built form. It is important to note the designers cited by
Pallasmaa are architects and landscape designers, which indicates, because of their absence, the need and the value of adding new knowledge
to the Interior Design profession.

The research of Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka is based in sensory design. The premise is to broaden the knowledge for design
practitioners, designers and students in designing for all the senses. Malnar and Vodvarka support their own ideas with scholarly works such as
Gaston Bachelard, Jorge Luis Borges, and Carl Jung and of course, Juhani Pallasmaa. The authors argument echoes Pallasmaas in that the
Cartesian model in place today dominates architecture and desensitizes the experience giving little if no regard to the human awareness. This
premise is in direct alignment with Pallasmaas theory and argument of an ocularcentric society. The literature covers spatial constructs, sensory
perception and sensory schematics. Sensory perception is of particular importance in understanding the breadth of sensory response and what
constitutes sensory information. Designing space as a sensory cultural construct attributes to the well-being of people. A sensory cultural construct
is developed when the willingness to consider sensory data (whatever the perceptual system and mediating structures) as an authentic
response of people to the environment in which they are placed (Malnar and Vodvarka, p. 58, 2004). Sensory data includes as well the mental
processes that do occur when processing sensory information. This process is not the intellectualizing of an experience, the mental processes
interpret the sensory information into recognizable or non-recognizable information for a person to orient and identify an environment. A point to

The design palette is demonstrated in the Methodology Section.


be made and investigated further in future work in the area of mental processes is the notion of reason over feeling, as it relates to a sensory
experience. We have evolved into a species of high intellect and a desire to want to know the unknowns. The researcher questions if this type of
thinking, the analyzing, over-thinking and calculating of an experience deprives a person of a full-embodied sensory experience when one is
offered. How much of the sensory cultural construct that may be developed by designers sensitive to the issues is affected by the narrative of our
culture today? Nature has proven, through research, to counter some of the negative effects of poor design and social norms.

The rigor and scope of Marcuss work, Healing Gardens, offers documented evidence regarding the healing effects of gardens (1999). In support
of Pallasmaa, Marcus investigates through the natural environment the sensory impact of the healing experiences found in nature and its
contribution to well-being. Nature as healer has her roots in ancient history and not until the last hundred years has society disregarded her value.
Marcus is clear in stating that a healing garden does not cure but can provide a greater sense of well-being and a stronger sense of self. Two
studies which asked people where they chose to go when they were feeling stressed or upset found that the majority chose to go outdoors to a
natural or designed setting (Francis, C. and C. Cooper Marcus, 1991and 1992).
Other terms used to describe such a garden are therapeutic, restorative, rehabilitative (Cooper Marcus, Healing Gardens in Hospitals, 2005).

Therapeutic, restorative and rehabilitative are terms Lawrence Halprin may use in defining the outcomes of his many landscape and architectural
projects. Halprin gives the creative process or hope-oriented process high regard during the design phase. Out of this process comes attention to
the human experience within the built environment. Halprin integrates this process into a score, choreographing a sequence of events that happen
over time and space. This method supports Pallasmaas theory in two ways; one, Halprin places significance on the experience as it relates to
time and space and two, attention to human awareness in the design process. The project presented in this paper is taking shape through a


diagrammatic design tool and utilized as a score in the design process. Both the development and utilization of the design tool developed
specifically from a culmination of literature from Halprin and Pallasmaa.

John Dewey brings to light the human-to-object experience. Bearing in mind that Pallasmaa views architecture in the realm of art, it is fitting to
deepen an understanding of the human-to-object (art) experience. The work of art is complete only as it works in the experience of others than
the one who created it. Thus language involves what logicians call a triadic relation. There is the speaker, the thing said, and the one spoken to
(Dewey, p. 111, 1934). Dewey wants to inform us that it is the integral parts, the ingoings and outgoings that make up this experience of art, it is
as much a process as the making of it. Pallasmaa states, Significant architecture makes us experience ourselves as complete embodied and
spiritual beings (p.11, 2005). The experience of art, a phenomenon in itself, and for some people a manifestation of what is true in life, the
everyday uncertainties, the mysteries and unknowns. This type of human-to-object experience with art and architecture that Pallasmaa speaks to
is an experience of architecture that may raise awareness, more than a passive acceptance, and an experience of quiet wonder.

In conclusion, the literature presents strong support for Pallasmaas argument and indicates a growing awareness towards a design typology in
which the focus is human experience and sensory capacities and their relationship to the built environment.


Key Definitions:
Through empirically based research and theory J.E. Myers, T.J.Sweeney and J.M. Wilmer
have redefined the traditional wellness model developing a more holistic model of
wellness based on lifespan. As seen in the wellness wheel, the authors defined wellness
as a way of life oriented toward optimal health and well-being in which the body, mind,
and spirit are integrated by the individual to live more fully within the human and natural
community (Myers, Sweeney, Witmer, 2001). The evidence-based model, Figure 7,

Wellness Wheel

Figure 7

provides an alternative perspective, focusing on wellness not disease.

Cooper Marcus (1999) defines the term healing as a beneficial process that promotes overall well-being (p. 3). Three specific aspects of this
definition are identified: relief from physical symptoms, stress reduction, and improvement in the overall sense of well-being. The focus of this
book is to demonstrate how nature has and continues to support growth and development for people as well as offering a healing environment.
The work of Cooper Marcus supports prior research from Studio 525, fall semester of the ID Master Program . The research shows people do
prefer natural settings as a stress reducer, people want a sense of control and social support is important. Roger Ulrich (1999) offers theoretical
support to Coopers research by proposing four strategies that are stress mitigators for patients.

Sense of control and privacy

Social Support

Physical movement and exercise


Access to nature and other positive distractions

The information provided by Cooper Marcus is integrated into the definition of well-being provided by Myers, et al. Cooper Marcus research
provides an understanding of nature as healer. Also provided is the knowledge of the relationship between people and their environment when
stressed or fatigued. The well-being of a person and the enhanced experience is supported by a natural environment or elements of nature found
within an interior environment.

Life-Enhancing Experience
A life-enhancing experience will be defined as an experience over an unidentified amount of space and time when the senses are engaged and a
deeper awareness of self and the environment is recognized. Such a moment can be experienced within an interior environment if all the senses
are addressed simultaneously during the design process, in so doing creating a sensuous experience through a subtle orchestration of
relationships in materiality and assembly. Pallasmaa suggests in the application of these elements; materiality, hapticity, texture, weight, density
of space and materialized light will lead to a re-sensualize of the built environment. This researcher suggests by addressing the senses through
the application of Pallasmaas six elements a life-enhanced moment may be achieved within an interior environment which will support and
nurture growth in the human experience.

Pallasmaa has adopted the term life-enhancing from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe (1749-1832) being an admirer of great art and a
novice himself, believed art had the ability to enhance ones life. Goethe believed that thoughtful, dedicated looking at a particular phenomenon
would eventually lead to a vivid moment of seeing in which the phenomenon and its various aspects are understood in a deeper more holistic way
(Armine, Zucker and Wheeler, 1987; Bortoft, 1985,1986)(as cited by Seamon, 1993).


Developing the idea that art must be life-enhancing Pallasmaa cites Bernard
Berenson who suggests when experiencing an artistic work, we imagine a genuine
physical encounter through ideated sensations (p. 44, 2005) This experience
provides imagined sensations, for example local artist Ric Garcia (figure 9), this image
brings up sensations of warmth, comfort, play and curiosity and in contrast, a
sensation of coolness and warm. The totality of the experience coming from ideated
sensations may be wrapped in arms of the spirit.

Figure 8

Lawrence Halprin (1969), environmental designer and planner, has and continues to explore scoring as a way to communicate the creative
process in all the arts. The essential quality of a score is that it is a system of symbols which can convey, or guide, or control (as you wish), the
interactions between elements such as space, time, rhythm, and sequences, people and their activities and the combinations which result from
them (Halprin, p. 7, 1969). In considering Halprins concept of scoring an understanding of orchestrating design, is a holistic approach. The
challenge seen is how to integrate Pallasmaas theory of multisensory with Halprins concept of scoring.4 The integration will come in a subtle way
through the massaging of a system of symbols, as described by Halprin, and the theoretical framework of Pallasmaa.

This challenge is addressed in detail in the Research and Methodology Section.


For the purpose of this paper phenomenology is defined as the study of phenomena: things as they appear in our experience, or the ways we
experience things, thus the meanings things have in our experience. Phenomenology studies conscious experience as experienced from the
subjective or first person point of view (Smith, 2005). David Wang describes this experience as the immediate union between subject and
his/her environment prior to the ability of language is Dasein (p.269, 2006). Dasein means literally being-there, a concept created by the
German philosopher Heidegger. Man dwells in a world that he has been, and continues to be, thrown into until death. Being thrown into things,
being-there (Da-sein), he falls away (Verfall) and is on the point of being submerged into things (Encyclopdia Britannica).

Pallasmaa turned from his view of architecture from rationalist thought to existential phenomenology. Merleau-Pontys development of existential
phenomenology focused on bodily perceptions and regarded the body as the central locus of all life, all knowledge and thus of all science and
philosophy. Note Merleau-Ponty does not indicate one or many parts of the body, the indication is the whole. Pallasmaa aligns himself with this
philosophy affirming the genius loci is the human body, I experience myself in the city, and the city exists through my embodied experience (p.
40. 2005).

Research and Methodology:

Research for the Wellness Space begins with a rigorous examination of Juhani Pallasmaas theory of enhancing the experience of space by
stimulating the senses and using the literary work of Halprin, Dewey, Vodvarka and Malnar and personal experience to build upon. Prior research


taken from Studio 525 contributed a set of requirements that will be applied to the design5. The research of both Studio 525 and the continued
work on the Wellness Space led to a greater understanding of the human sensory systems and how they inform our experience in the world. For
example the most prominent of insights would be a preference for daylight and natural elements either within the interior space or access to the
natural environment. Described in the methodology is a series of creative processes the theoretical framework moves through and transformed
into a design palette and language for application.

Methods chosen for this research are qualitative and based on the phenomenological characteristics of Pallasmaas theory and Halprins notion of
scoring. There are three steps involving a mapping sequence and a diagrammatic framework that will inform the design. The steps are as follows:
Step One: Thinking Process
Words are used as a way to navigate an
exploration into the literature of Pallasmaa to
develop the beginnings of a design palette.
Beginning with an activity moving to the guided
experience then which senses are emphasized
will lead to Pallasmaas design characteristics
and recommended design elements. This is the
first stage of the thinking process.

The requirements are found in Site and Program section of the document.



Stage Two: Discovering a palette; a mapping sequence.

Figure 8

This mapping sequence begins by naming an

experience relating to the definition of wellness as
defined by the project and program
requirements. A preliminary design palette from
the literature is then integrated with the six
sensory modes emphasized for this project and
the tactics Pallasmaa cites as being significant in

Figure 9

Stage 2

Stage 2

Stage Three: A Diagrammatic Framework

Stage three demonstrates how to take the experience intended and move it into the built environment. The diagram begins with the
experience and moves through the sensory capacities, the form and finally to materiality. Conceptually speaking, using words as symbols the
diagram is the wiring of the design connecting experience to form. The center circle will indicate the ideal experiences for this activity within a
wellness space and expands next into the sensory circle. Within this space senses are emphasized that correlate with the experience and
activity. In this case the senses are smell, taste and touch are primary and sound, sight and balance will be secondary. This does not devalue
but creates a hierarchy for a sensory experience. The next expanse of the circle is form; this will indicate what elements will contribute to


Figure 10

matter, to the built form, such as light, color, etc. The following circle is materiality which is informed by all the previous boxes of sensory data.
The combinations of recommended elements are then brought into the next phase of the process, the ex-box, the experience box.

Stage 3

Figure 11

Stage 3


Figure 11

Stage Four: The ex_box : Palette of Experiences

This is the ex_box, (figure 12). This design tool is a
visual cue that aids in developing a synchronistic
relationship between the experience, sensory modalities,
what contributes to form and finally materiality.

The ideal experience for identified area.

Senses emphasized in the experience.

What forms contribute to the interior environment

to support the senses emphasized and the ideal
experience recommended?

The material supporting the latter.

The four stages described above brought the design

process into a position to begin planning the space.

Stage 4

Figure 11

Following, figure 13 and 14, is the proposed floor plan for

the Wellness Space with attention given on the approach
beginning from exiting ones car.
Stage 4


Figure 12

Indicators for People

The sequence of events for a life-enhancing experience may
happen as follows: Jane gets out of her car and begins walking
towards the path that will lead her to the Wellness Space. Jane
has a choice of two paths; one that is playful and mysterious the
other is open to the street. Jane decides to take the playful path.
Tired from work and feet swollen Jane is prompted to take off her
shoes and walk through a small section of sand. The sand
massages and tickles her feet generating a feeling of comfort.
Jane reaches the edge of the sand and steps to the grass to put
her shoes on and continue towards the entrance. Still feeling the
weight of the day Jane sees the entrance door and feels a sense
of anticipation. This is her first time here and she feels a bit unsure
but comforted by the introduction of the playful path. The door of
the entrance has a view in making her feeling secure in knowing
what may be to come. She opens the door onto a set of stairs
leading up into a wash of color and light. The walk up felt like a big
hug, the walls surrounding the stairs are covered in a reflective soft
brown bead curved in a way that would enfold her. Jane reaches
the top stair and is immediately greeted by a life-enhancer guide
who will walk her around the space to orient and comfort her.

Site Plan and Main Level Floor Plan


Figure 13

Indicators for People

Leslie and John, students from WSU campus, are here to reenergize. They have just spent the past 10 hours in front of a
computer working on design problems. John and Leslie are
frequent visitors of the Wellness Space. John heads up to the body
memory room for a low impact workout but before he gets there he
likes to stop on the one of two lookout areas. This experience
gives him a feeling of joy and a king of the world sensation. The
low impact room is washed with daylight and the wood floors are
easy and soft under the feet. John pulls off his shoes and changes
into his Tai Chi clothing. The light of the sun feels good on his skin,
hes watching the light play on the pressed glass surface and he is
reminded of his recent fishing trip, the reflection of the water and
colors of the rainbow trout.
Leslie has just the caf feeling comforted by the good food and
company she is in need of a nap. Heading towards the stairway to
the Alpha Room Leslie stops to experience the memory wall. She
grabs a couple of markers and writes a note reminding students of
an upcoming lecture. Leslie also scans the wall for any news of
Mezzanine Level Floor Plan
interest and before leaving changes the colors in the moveable
windows which bring play of light onto the floors surface.


Figure 14

Project Description:
The intended outcome of this project is the development of tools that enable a designer to move through the creative process of design integrating
sensory capacity and human awareness with greater knowledge, accuracy and ease. The three tools identified are the sensory framework, the ex
box and the score (plan). This section will describe how these tools can be applied to a proposed design, a Wellness Space.

The project, a Wellness Space, is located at 218 Spokane Falls Boulevard, figures 15, 16 and17. This is an existing site, built approximately 194650. The north facing exterior of the building on the entrance door and overhang indicate a late 40s art deco style. These elements will be
mimicked on the interior space. The building is approximately 5,250 square feet not including a finished basement of 2,700 square feet. The focus
of this project will be on the main level, a new addition and the exterior landscape.

West Wall
Building and Plumbing Supply

Figure 16

Figure 15


East Wall

Figure 17

Site and Program:

The purpose of this section is to discuss the selection process for the site and the programming of the space. The discussion is based off the
literature, assessing the site, prior relative research and personal knowledge.

Site Assessment
The site is located across from the WSU Campus in Spokane. The purpose for choosing this site is primarily for the location. This location will
serve students, faculty and staff from the university and surrounding campuses and is within walking and biking distance. The location is also
convenient to downtown which may serve the public as well.

Site Requirements
The requirements of the site must allow for these four principles as cited by Roger Ulrich (1999):

Sense of control and privacy

Social Support

Physical movement and exercise

Access to nature and other positive distractions

The principles above have been documented by Ulrich and prior research of Studio 525 as vital to the project. As a sustainable philosophy the
landscape of the environment will be respected. The area indicated for social support will be designed with minimal if any disturbance to the


Program Guidelines
The project the design is in the schematic stage of the design process. The guidelines recommended for the program are taken from the research
of Studio 525 and the adaptation of the site requirements from Ulrich as stated above in the site requirements.
1. Provide a Partial Enclosed Space.
2. Incorporate Natural Elements and Materials.
3. Provide Natural Ventilation and Daylight.
4. Define an Area for an Individual and/or Small Group.

Analysis of Project:
The strength of this project is in the theoretical framework and the creative process, each passing through an extremely rigorous process to reach
a point where a design tool is extracted from the culmination of data. The design tools, a result of a desire or need to understand Pallasmaas
theory and the idea of an experience, can be used in the practical terms. The diagrammatic framework is at a stage of practical use, ready to
perform. The ex-box will move on to further development refining the actual container. The scope of a project may dictate size or shape of the
box; these considerations will be taken into account in a revision of the box.


A weakness of the project is moving to the design phase to quickly. Conflict arose when the conceptual and schematic stages meet. In moving
forward into schematic design before fully and exhaustingly working through any and all possible solutions seems detrimental to the design. This
process also causes an idea to not fully develop or worse not develop at all.

Further Applications:
The design tools developed for this project are intended to be applicable to any design problem. Further developing the tools will include a model
of the experience box that will demonstrate how it works in the design process and how it may be applied to a design problem. The diagrams are
developed and ready for use as a design tool. Each tool, the diagrammatic framework of the sensory experience and the experience box are
intended to work in tandem.

The research presented will continue to be developed as the application is demonstrated in design. Bringing in the notion of art as experience is in
need of further examination as it relates to the built environment.

Examination of qualitative theory is a world of subjectivity is difficult if not at times impossible to measure. Yet the merit of this type of research and
the application of design principles and guidelines is its qualitative nature. Existential phenomenology deals with the essence of things. The multisensory experience is part of what it is to be human. How people want or can have a sensory experience may in large part be determined by
designers in research and practice. Pallasmaa points to a moral responsibility of the designer to enhance the built environment contributing to the


well-being of peoples lives and the natural environment. To demonstrate how this experience can contribute to and benefit people is and will
continue to be the challenge. The researcher understands further examination of theory is necessary but equally important is a design application.
This research will be taken forward into practice and put to the test in the every day lives of people. The aspect that will be a strong contribution to
the research is a post occupancy evaluation.

In addition to designing for human awareness and sensory capacities sustainable design will be integrated into this process. A sustainable
philosophy as has been determined by Jason F. McClennan, Sustainable Design is a design philosophy that seeks to maximize the quality of the
built environment, while minimizing or eliminating the negative impact to the natural environment ( p.5, 2004). The partnership of sustainable
design and sensory design is a means for a positive and beneficial experience in the built environment for people and nature.


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