Can Architecture Arouse Sentiment?

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Image Credit: © Circotasu | Dreamstime
Image Credit: © Circotasu | Dreamstime
“Architecture arouses sentiments in man. The architecture’s task; therefore, is to make those sentiments more precise.” — Adolf Loos

Architecture is like music, with ability to arouse specific emotions and other reactions at particular moments in time. To arouse sentiment is a delicate task, and the key is to engage occupants. Human mood, behavior and physiology will all benefit from such an awakening.


To arouse precise human sentiments, architecture must integrate features like timing, materiality, information and the designer’s intent — all in an effort to engage occupants. Not only should architecture awaken occupant emotion, but it should play a role in which emotions surface and when.


Experiencing a built work is like taking a journey where “paths” lead to observations, interactions, and yes, sentiment. Precise sentiment is what will surface as occupants unravel the true nature of an architect’s design. So yes, architecture does arouse sentiment; but the challenge remains — to awaken those sentiments moment by moment to create an overarching composition of human experience.

About the author

Maria Lorena Lehman

Maria Lorena Lehman is a visionary artist, designer, and author focusing on links between environmental design, science, emerging technologies, and human potential. Lehman is founder of MLL Atelier, an art-based architectural design research practice. Maria Lorena Lehman is author of the award-winning book entitled, Adaptive Sensory Environments. She is recipient of the Harvard University Digital Design Prize for the "most creative use of digital media in relation to the design professions". Lehman also creates sculptures and paintings described as "visual poetry of motion that is a new inspiration" by Daniel Smith, the company that creates watercolors for artists worldwide. Maria Lorena Lehman holds the degrees of Master in Design with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor of Architecture, Cum Laude, from Virginia Tech. She is internationally published and in numerous periodicals, including The Architect's Journal, Esquisses Magazine, Architect Magazine and Forbes.