One of the most profound and informative senses that we have is our sense of touch. This sense informs so much of the way we “see” the world around us. Some have even said that touch is the greatest of all the senses.
It is interesting to think that in some way all of our other senses engage in some form of “touch” as we experience the things which make up our environments. Thus, as we move through architectural spaces, we touch what we perceive and we perceive what we touch — we extract it, interpret it and make meaning of it in our memory and through learning. You can say that “touch” helps us to understand.
Again, touch can involve all of the senses in some way. When you touch something it has been said that you can “feel” it. One could suppose that this means that you completely take it in through the senses — to cognitively and emotionally form a perception and then an impression.
Interactivity Fosters a “Touch” Mindset
With the advancement of interactive design, architecture is becoming more responsive and ultimately adaptive. Your occupants will be paying a different kind of attention to your designs as it begins to engage your occupants in renewed ways. So, will the way your occupants “touch” your design change?
As buildings gain more sophisticated user interfaces, transient sensorial stimuli and information networked to help it make smart decisions — interactive and adaptive designs will call upon occupants to touch buildings more, less and differently (depending on the situation).
The “impressions” that your occupant will form while experiencing your architecture could potentially be more immersive, automated, controlled or even augmented. For instance, they could experience something like a virtual augmented display personalized for them as they travel through your design. Hence, their impression and understanding of you designed space is likely to change.
There are also implications involving the very notion of not only how an occupant “touches”, but also how far their “touch” can reach. With the development of adaptive architecture, be prepared to design architecture where your occupant’s “touch” can have greater consequence — not only for them, but also for your building as a whole.