How Architectural Poetics Improves Human Performance

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Image Credit: © MiguelMay | Pixabay
Image Credit: © MiguelMay | Pixabay


With the design of each built environment, it is possible to help make the world a better place for individuals, the collective, and the planet. The key is to rise as architectural designers to create poetic architecture, not mere status quo buildings. You see, it is with poetic architecture that environmental design can awaken potential to nurture the self-actualization of those it serves.


Three key architectural effects impact building occupants through highly poetic architecture that converges highest forms of beauty, function, and meaning. When designed properly, these three poetic design effects impact people for the better as follows:



  • Inspiration to Take Action: Yes, an architectural environment can inspire an occupant to take action – to engage in healthier, more beneficial behaviors, to help that person meet their desired goals, overcome challenges, and self-actualize as a human being. As architectural environments become increasingly interactive and adaptive in their responsiveness (due to the proliferation of new technologies), architects can design architecture to engage and evoke occupant response to “tune” with a person’s lifestyle in a way that helps them take on healthier habits and choices.
  • Deeper Experiential Meaning: A highly poetic environment yields a deeper experience for those journeying through its narrative. This occurs because the environment “touches” a person at more levels of occupant experience which include the physiological, intellectual, emotional, behavioral, and even the spiritual. You see, a mere status quo building will negatively affect a person on these levels, but a successfully designed poetic architecture guides occupants on a narrative journey that deepens insight into themselves, their relationships with others, and their relationship with their surrounding context – including the planet’s natural environment.
  • Heightened Mindfulness Moments: A great benefit of poetically designed architecture is experienced in how it can heighten moments of mindfulness, where one awakens to their surroundings in real-time through the full spectrum of their senses. This type of poetic architectural effect can be quite beneficial as such poetics help patients in a hospital to heal, students in a school to learn, and workers in an office building to create productively.



As you design architecture, it is important to strive for highest level poetics with aim to awaken occupants through their own self-actualization. Again, such poetics work through inspiring action, deepening meaningful experience, and heightening moments of mindfulness. It is time to think laterally about how to create the architectural features and details within your current and future environmental designs to apply these concepts that will help to make the world an even better place by helping people to become the best version of themselves.

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.