“Architecture is basically a container of something. I hope they will enjoy not so much the teacup, but the tea.”
— Yoshio Taniguchi
This quote highlights why sensory design is indispensable. The act of enjoying the tea is fostered by the teacup just as sensory architecture enhances occupant experience. Both the teacup and sensory design must be sensitive to human needs.
With interactive design, a sensory teacup could integrate user sensory system factors like temperature and flavor. The same sensory teacup could also adapt itself to the particular tastes of each individual drinker. The sensory teacup could even adapt itself in real-time as its tea level decreases. And yes, the tea cup could even use technology to make the tea more physiologically healthy. In the end, this tea cup still exists to enhance the experience of drinking that tea.
As architects that design for the senses, it helps to understand latest findings in other fields such as the field of neuroscience — where much is being uncovered about how the human brain and central nervous system work. As we tap into the inner workings behind the senses, emotion and physiology, we will be better able to create spaces that comfort, motivate, teach, remind and enhance experience. (This becomes evermore important as new technologies and materials surface.)
The question then becomes — Can we, as architects, enhance experience without losing sight of what makes that experience so special in the first place?