26 Feb 2011 04:48 pm
Designing Educational Environment with Children in Mind
When we design educational environments we have to think of many different elements. On of the first things you need to figure out is what the age group will be for your educational facility. One group that has a lot of special considerations is that of the younger child. Specific types of spaces and certain elements in the designs have to be implemented for educational environments for children to be successful. Some of these things include flexibility in the space to accommodate a wide range of activities, movable furniture, multiple forms of learning style implementation and elements that encourage play.
Elementary School Classroom. source:http://www.ssnsc.org/preschool/Preschool.htm
As we see in the above photo, there are multiple zones throughout the one major room of this classroom. These zones are separated to accommodate different types of activities. There are larger tables where the students can engage in interactive and collaborative play as well as arts and crafts project. There are separate areas with soft flooring for a play zone. The soft flooring allows the student to be more flexible in their activity and lets them know that it is OK to play on the floor in that zone.
Stackable Furniture. source:http://www.elementary classroomfurniture.com/
In the above photo we see an example of stack-able furniture. This type of furniture is very necessary in spaces for younger students. This allows reinforcement of the flexibility of the space. With these types of movable furniture pieces the classroom design is able to have the most types of activities with the least amount of space needed.
Allowing multiple types of learning. source:http://www.clearspringschool.org/wisdom_of_the_hands_program.html
The design of educational environments for young children also needs to accommodate multiple types of learning styles. These style include tactile, visual, audio and kinetic types of learning. People in general, but espically young students learn differently with different types of teaching methods. Allowing for adequate space to accomodate for all of these different types of learning will support your design’s success.
Encourage Play. source:https://www.google.com/accounts/ServiceLogin?hl=en_US&continue=https%3A%2F%2Fpicasaweb.google.com%2Flh%2Flogin%3Fcontinue%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fpicasaweb.google.com% 252Flh%252Fphoto%252F4_Wmv-Dc10mlEznlITyrDA&service=lh2<mpl=gp&passive=true
Finally, the spaces need to incorporate areas and opportunities for play. This is a large part of this age group’s life and needs to be implemented into the educational environment. Studies show that we are less stressed when we play and allow ourselves to be more creative than when we don’t have play regularly. The implimentation of play in educational environment for young students will allow them to learn more effectively and allow them to be more creative than if they were in environments that did not encourage play.
There are many things to consider when designing educational facilities for young students. We need to consider the age group of our clients in order to best serve them through our designs. What are they interested in at this point of their lives? How do they naturally learn? How can we implement the design of the space to coincide with the natural grooves of their learning patterns and styles? These are all questions we should continually ask ourselves throughout the design process. If we do this successfully then we will be able to design educational environments for children that not only support but also encourage their progression of learning and academic achievement.
24 Feb 2011 12:41 pm
What To Do?
I was recently asked what I would want my overall impact as a designer to be. I have been thinking about this question a lot in the past few months, and I find myself being both inspired and overwhelmed by it. One of the most fascinating things I find in design is that there are so many faucets of it. It seems that no matter where your passions lay you can fulfill them through interior design. Within the field of interior design there are numerous sub fields: commercial, health care, residential, hospitality, retail, etc. Within those sub-fields there are even more specialties. Are you interested in finishes, the human response, the psychological well-being of the client, the research of design aspects, or the context to the building’s surrounding? There are countless other specialties you can go into beyond these. How do you dig through all of the areas and decide what you want your impact to be? This is a question that I am still working through, but I am making some great strides toward its conclusion.
Inspiring Interior. source.http://besthomenews.com/the-house-of-demi-moore-and-ashton-kutcher/
I am very inspired by how design can be used to enhance the health, connection and well-being of its user. I have poured over countless of pages of articles, books and interviews of how humans psychologically respond to our built environment. Some of this deals with the Mind-Body connection. This investigates how our responses to the built environment can aid or hinder our health and well-being. I would like to connect this science into my designs. I am interested in discovering what the things are that make one space more psychologically comforting/healing than another. How can we use the manipulation of these elements to bring the benefits of these designs to everyone and not just the elite? I knew from an early time that I wanted to focus my efforts on healing environments and not waste my time on designing simply “pretty” or “cool” environments for the sake of them being “cool” or “pretty”. If I am going to pour my passion and time into a design I want it to add to the better whole of the users.
Mind-Body Connection. source http://helpingpsychology.com/the-mind-body-connection-how-you-might-be-making-yourself-sick
Furthermore, I believe that we are genetically connected nature more than to the built environment. I would like to find ways to sustainably incorporate a more seamless connection between our built environment and our natural one. I want my designs to discover new ways to give back to the ecological system rather than stripping it of its resources for the sake of my designs. Perhaps this would reinforce my desire to raise awareness of the larger ecological system to my users through my designs.
Connection to Nature. source.http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/penseur/
To date, I have decided that I want my impact as a designer to be one that seamlessly inspires and connects my user. I want my spaces to reinforce the long forgotten knowledge that we have the potential to achieve superior accomplishments without stripping others and our resources of their potential. Furthermore, I want my interiors to remind us that we are all connected. I plan on doing this through transparency in my designs and expressing the construction and connection of elements. Above all, I want my spaces to subconsciously heal the users while reconnecting them to the larger picture of our natural connection to each other as well as all living elements of the world.
23 Feb 2011 05:26 pm
Human Response Needs in Multi-Family Housing
We all need a place to call home. The potential consequences of not having that place of home are great. In most cases, home is a place we go to restore ourselves. It is a place we are welcome and are able to completely be ourselves. We are able to kick off our shoes and forget about all the worries of the world. Most of the essential elements we need to achieve our highest potential of well-being can be met in our living environments. Unfortunately, some living situations do now encompass all of these restorative and stress reducing elements. I would like to take a moment to talk about things to consider when we design multi-family housing. These considerations are based on our personal and social needs and how we can achieve the highest potential in our designs for multi-family housing.
Typical "nice" apartment complex source:http://www.rentmoney.com/State/GA/Metro/Atlanta/City/Atlanta/Property/Post%20Briarcliff/ApartmentForRent.aspx
In the above photo we see an image of a typical newer apartment complex. While this complex seems nice and well kept it is lacking many of the essential needs for an ideal multi-family housing development such as places to interact and a connection to nature. Some of the main elements we need in our housing environments are: a connection to nature, private and public spaces, sense of ownership, areas to enhance sense of community and safety. While some apartment complexes might be successful with the implementation of only a few of these elements, the most ideal living situations incorporate all of them.
Built Environment and Connection to nature. source:http://homedesigndecorating.com/amazing-modern-house-design-surround-with-nature-and-amazing-view/
In the above image we see a direct connection between nature and the built environment. Studies suggest that we find many qualities of restoration in nature and therefore should have a direct connection to it.
Most apartment complexes fail at this opportunity by making the entrance of the building look like the image below.
Uninspiring entrance. source.http://www.flickr.com/photos/zembla/4262903183/
This type of setting not only limits connection to nature but it also creates this sort of “no man’s” zone in the apartment complex. This zone acts as a walk way but it travels right next to the individual dwellings. This layout is a bit unsettling because it places a very public zone directly, literally withing inches, of a very private and personal zone.
Successful Walkway with Nature source:http://www.lfvapts.com/photos.htm
The above photo shows a great example of implementing connection to nature into the walk way. Furthermore, it shows how the entrances to the individual dwellings are slightly pulled away from the path to define the public verses private zone. Which apartment complex feels more like home to you?
Private Spaces Within A Public Setting. source:http://iqclicks.com/category/design
We also have different needs for the type of space that is incorporated into multi-family housing projects. We tend to need private and personal spaces within our public spaces. A successful consideration for a range of public and private spaces will allow us to satisfy our individual needs regardless of the type of spatial zone needed.
Example of Personalization. source.http://www.squidoo.com/balcony-garden-the-small-space-solution
We also have a need to define our territory in order to strength our sense of ownership. Statistically we have seen that when there is a sense of ownership there tends to be more effort put into keeping a space well-maintained. With this heightened sense of pride and upkeep it makes the area a more desirable place to be. Some of the ways we do this is through personalization of our spaces. We need areas of opportunity to personalize our spaces built into our multi-family developments. Some of these can be a patio. In these areas we have the opportunity to personalize our space and also have a connection to nature directly next to our homes.
Need for Socialization. source:http://www.superstock.com/stock-photos-images/1527R-1143337
We also have a need to be social. It is ideal to know our neighbors. If our environment is conducive to building these acquaintances we have a larger social network. Knowledge of your neighbors can also instill a higher network of safety in the area. If you know your neighbors not only do you have someone to go to in a time of need, but you are also able to look out for their safety in return. Multi-family housing environments need to provide opportunities where we can have casual social interaction with our neighbors. The most successful complexes implement these opportunities throughout the building.
Truly,One of our most basic needs is housing. We have the potential to satisfy are psychological and social needs with the successful design of elements in these spaces. We need opportunities to not only be socially connected but also more private areas were we can personally connect with ourselves and get restored. The need for housing is on the rise and one way to satisfy this is through multi-family housing units. If we are going to design them anyway, we need to design them in order to enhance our needs and well-being.
23 Feb 2011 12:55 pm
Can Furniture Design Cure World Hunger?
Our standard lives are centered around inhabiting built environments. In these environments we are also very dependent on man made furnishings. I want to talk about how the incorporation of natural elements in designs of those furnishings can enhance our well-being.
Furniture Lines Inspired by Nature- Source:http://cubeme.com/blog/category/furniture/page/35/
In the above photo we see an image of a bed that has a design that inspired by nature. This type of design is based on the theory of the biophilia approach. In Robert Gifford’s book, Environmental Psychology: Principles and Practice, he describe the basis of this theory as “humans evolved for two million years in natural environments, and we have only lived in cities for a tiny fraction of that time. Thus, genetically, we are much more adapted to natural than built settings” (Gifford. 2007. Pg. 433) One reason we use designs that are inspired by nature elements is to attempt to restore our genetic connection to it.
Functional Table with Natural Inspration-source:http://sally2012.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/hotel-inspirations/plant-furniture/
When we are exposed to furniture inspired by Biophilia we can attempt to reap some of the benefits in our built environments as we do in our natural environments. Studies suggest that exposure to nature can provide restorative properties, a reduction in stress and heightened levels of inspiration. We can use proper design of furniture to assist in bringing those benefits of nature into our built environments.
Bench Designed by Petit Jardin- source:http://www.thedesignblog.org/entry/petit-jardin-armchair-and-bench/
In the above photo we see a bench designed by Petit Jardin that is truly inspired by nature. I don’t know about you, but when I saw this photo I was instantly inspired. I could only imagine how I would feel if I sat on the bench. I would imagine I would feel as if nature was comfortably wrapping around me. I feel as thought I would be calmed by the experience of the piece. I know I was just by looking at the photo. In addition, this piece is designed to be appropriate for indoor and outdoor use. This fact further expresses the connection of the piece to nature. In the photos below we see more instances of this indoor/outdoor connections with furniture pieces.
Indoor/Outdoor Furniture- source:http://weburbanist.com/2008/08/30/23-unusually-magical-garden-furniture-items-from-toadstools-to-swinging-pumpkins-part-seven-in-an-eight-part-unusual-furniture-series/
While furniture design may not have a direct effect on world hunger, I believe it does have a direct effect on our comfort, levels and stress and therefore our overall well-being. If we can use furniture as a means to connect us to elements that have scientifically proven restorative situations then maybe we can make a small difference on society. So does furniture design cure world hunger? Maybe not directly, but if a person is spending less time on curing his or her stress because stress reduction happens innately with their furniture then maybe they have more time to spend on things they are passionate about. Perhaps like finding a cure to end world hunger. So yes, considerate design and the implementation of Biophelia in furniture design can actually have the potential to indirectly cure our world’s foes.
Gifford, Robert. (2007) .Environmental Psychology Principles and Practice (fourth edition). pg.433. Colville, WA: Optimal Books
08 Feb 2011 04:04 pm
Bringing the Positive Elements of the Outdoors In
When we think of nature we are often instantly calmer. can you remember a time when you were very stressed from day-to-day worries and you took a moment to walk around outside? Regardless of it was a quick hike or a short stroll in the park-how did you feel? Were you a bit calmer after your natural experience? Chances are that you were much calmer and you were able to take on the rest of your day with a more relaxed approach.
A worthy goal of interior design is trying to implement the calming effects of our natural environment into our built one. This makes sense because of the scientifically proven positive effects of our natural environment. Robert Gifford in his book, “Environmental Psychology Principles and Practice” explains that we psychologically receive many positive effects from exposure to nature. Some of these include: Cognitive freedom, provides and escape, personal growth, improved health, improved self-control and a feeling of connectedness to your ecosystem (Gifford, 2007 p.430). Gifford continues to explain that these elements result in a lower stress levels and provide a restorative effect on us as humans.Knowing this information, we undoubtedly need to incorporate the elements of nature into our designs.
Some of the ways we can incorporate the positive effects of nature into our environments include: making sure the occupants have exposure to natural sunlight, views of the outside environment
Connection to Exterior (http://www.busyboo.com/2008/05/07/loblolly-house-design/)
and the inclusion of natural elements such as fountains to simulation moving water.
It has been suggested that choosing to use natural materials can also provide a level of connection to our natural environment while we are in our built one. Some examples of this might include using textiles made of natural fibers such as cotton and bamboo
Natural Fiber Textiles (http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire/exchange/post/19705)
All of these suggestions are great options for including nature into our built environment, but what about when our view to the outside is less than desirable? Studies have shown that even seeing a picture of a natural environment can have the same effects as actually being in that environment. Therefore, if you have a room that does not have any exterior windows you can include an image of a natural environment to achieve similar results as actually being in and connected to nature.
Image of Nature (http://thundafunda.com/1600x1200-wallpaper/green-trees-half-moon-in-forest-falling-leaves-computer-backgrounds/)
Truly, we cannot deny the positive effects nature has on us. It has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, reduce the amount of time needed for healing in sick patients and it provides us with an improved restorative state of well-being. Knowing this, we need to consider implementing elements found in nature into our designs of interior environments. In doing this, we can help reduce the disconnection between the natural and built environment and work toward bringing us back to a balanced state of well-being.
Gifford, Robert. (2007) Environmental Psychology Principles and Practice (fourth edition). Colville, WA: Optimal Books
06 Feb 2011 04:04 pm
Sound and Light in Our Interior Environments
We experience interior environments through all of our senses. Two majors ones to consider are how we experience sound and light in our environments. The considerations of these greatly determines weather our experience in a space is positive or negative.
Let us first look at how we experience sound in our environments.
How We Process Sound (http://hearinganddizziness.com/faq/)
We process sound through a series of steps before we fully experience the effects of it. Sounds have the ability to make us more stressed or more at peace in our environments. Some of the things we need to consider when designing with the consideration of sound in our environments are the type of sound, levels of sound and how frequently those sounds occur. The amount of this information will change based on what the type of space is and its needs. Let’s use a hospital for an example. There are many different functional spaces in a hospital that require different considerations of sound based on their intended uses. For example, a quieter environment is more preferred in a hospital patient room than in the lobby space. Studies show that patients heal at a quicker rate when their stress levels are low verses when they are high. Too much unnecessary audio stimulation can cause increase in stress levels and can therefore hinder the healing process.
Example of A Patient Room (http://www.ucmt.org/westwood/html/images/pages/illustrations_01.shtml)
The above image shows an example of a patient room. In this example we see multiple ways to eliminate auditory stress. These elements include the acoustical tile ceiling and the soft goods in the space such as the bed and the lounge furniture. In addition, we need to consider the sound levels of the machines in the space and keeping them to a minimum. Finally, we want to minimize the noise levels from the activity in the hallway. This is typically achieved through allowing the part of the room where the patient stays to be recessed back 7′-10′ from the main hallway circulation. In order to allow our clients to achieve the highest amount of satisfaction from a space possible, we need to be cognoscente of the sound levels of the space. We need to make sure that we are implementing such approachs as removing spaces with high volume from those intended for lower levels of volume. Furthermore, we need to be aware of the organization within each space as well as the type of materials used with the consideration of the sound properties. We need to use sound absorbing options such as softer materials in those spaces intended for quiet use. In doing this, we will make sure our clients will have the best auditory experience possible.
Another consideration in our environments is that of lighting.
There are many elements we need to consider when we design the lighting in our interior environments. We need to consider such elements as the level of the lighting, type of lighting and the contrast of the lighting. The consideration of these elements is imperative to our overall health in an environment. Let us again use a hospital as an example space when considering lighting. As with sound, there are different needs of levels of light based on the function of the space. For example, a hospital exam room needs to have consistently much higher and concentrated lighting levels than the part of the patients room where the patient is intended to rest. Ultimately, the spaces need mixed lighting levels to supply the adequate levels for a range of activities.
Different Lighting Types (http://www.move.com/home-garden/remodel/planning-remodel/lighting.aspx)
As we see in the above image, we need a mix of lighting types in our interior environments. It is ideal to have natural light, general or ambient light as well as concentrated task lighting options. When we properly design for lighting in our environments, we will have any needed level of light for a range of tasks to be completed in the space.
Another thing to consider with our interior lighting is the contrast of levels. If we have too much contrast between light levels in a space we can easily overwork our eye muscles. This will quickly cause fatigue and can cause decreased eyesight over an extended experience of exposure. One common exposure to this extreme contrast is using a computer in a dark room.
Lighting Contrast (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zen/3424346781/)
Have you ever been working on a computer project with the lights off in the room? Did you notice that your eyes became tired very quickly while doing this? This was caused by the over strain on your eyes from the screen being too bright. This contrast is just one element to consider when designing for proper lighting levels in a space.
Sound and light are two very important elements to consider while designing our interior environments. We need to be aware of the amount of both and if the levels are appropriate for the intended use of the space. Furthermore, we need to make sure we consider designing a mix of levels for both in our spaces. This will allow us to create successful auditory and visual environments for a multitude of uses for each space.
03 Feb 2011 08:31 pm
Creating good Ergonomics in our Interior Environments
Ergonomics-this is a word that defines issues that affect us every day yet we rarely take the time to truly think about it. Furthermore, ergonomics is something we normally only think about when something is not designed properly. We normally don’t stop and say, “hey! this thing works great and is designed perfectly for me!”, we just happily use it.
Example of Bad Ergonomics (http://www.onlinecolleges.net/2009/04/09/10-ways-to-get-a-good-nights-sleep-while-living-in-a-dorm-room/)
Clearly, the above photo does not represent good ergonomics. The reason for the poor ergonomics in the above photo is due to misuse of the space. Let’s take a look at some issues to consider when we design successfully with the considerations of ergonomics. Some of the major issues to consider are proper height of elements, proper reach of spaces, adequate and proper levels of light for each space and the overall ease of use for everyday items.
Perhaps one of the most common areas of research and ergonomics is in the area of our workplace. We spend an average of nine hours a day, five days a week in our office work environments. Many of this time is spent doing very repetitive work.
One huge area is having a proper chair if you are in a seating position for the majority of the workday.
Ergonomic Considerations for a Chair (http://www.simplydecoration.com/page/140/)
As represnted in the above image, there are many considerations to think about when choosing the right chair.
Other areas of concern include ease of use.The photo below exhibits all of the areas to consider at the workstation. In addition to the issues represented in the photo, we must consider ease of reach. All items that you regularly used must be within arm’s reach of your seated position while at your workstation. The goal is to minimize unnecessary strain caused by repetitive reaching and stretching.
Considerations of Proper Ergonomics (http://www.simplydecoration.com/page/140/)
While there are many issues to consider, having proper lighting levels is extremely important in considering ergonomics. The eye muscle is on average, the number one used muscle in our entire bodies. If we are not given the proper lighting levels we will quickly have eye fatigue for over-straining our eye muscles.
Considerations with Lighting and Ergonomics (http://www.ergodirect.com/product_info.php?products_id=13656)
As mentioned in the above diagram, we need, on average, five times as much light to view written documents as we do items on a computer. Because of this, we need to have mixed options of lighting levels in our designs. Furthermore, minimization of contrast between these levels is necessary for our overall eye health. If we have too much contrast it makes our eyes strain. Remember a time when you were working on the computer with the lights off in the room-did your eyes quickly become tired? This was due to too much contrast in lighting levels of the space. Furthermore, one should never place his or her computer screen to be opposite of the window. This causes too much glare on the screen and also causes eyestrain. It is best to have computer screens to the side of the window to minimize glare.
Truly, we need consider many elements when designing with ergonomics in mind. In order for an item to be successfully ergonomically designed, we need to consider the ease of use for at least 90% of our population. This often involves having easily adjustable height and levels of our objects. There are many sever risks with continually being in ergonomically poor environments. We can suffer from anything ranging from eye strain, to carpel tunnel syndrome to decreased efficiency. It is imperative to our overall health and well-being to design for successful ergonomic considerations. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to never have to note poorly designed objects again?
01 Feb 2011 04:10 pm
The impact of poor Ergonomics
Ergonomics-what a word! Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely”. Basically it’s making sure things in our everyday lives are designed properly, so they minimize potential hazards caused by poor designs. The consideration of ergonomics is undoubtedly necessary for our everyday lives and should be a top priority of ours when we design.
The list of ways poor design consideration for ergonomics can impact us in infinite. One area that has had a lot of research is ergonomics and the workplace. Since we spend an average of nine hours a day, five days a week in the working environment poor considerations for ergonomic design can be detrimental.
Poor Consideration of Ergonomics (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ezu/66815736/)
Some of factors that influence ergonomic design are angles of the body in a seated position, pressure of points on joints and back, light levels and comfortable reach zones. Below is an picture that represents some of the elements to consider.
Proper Ergonomics Working at a Computer (http://www.ergonomics-info.com/ergonomic-pictures.html)
The impact of poor consideration of these, as well as other, ergonomic elements can be very hazardous to our well-being. Some of the effects include increase chances of suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome, decreased eye sight, cramps in our joints, strain from overworking certain muscles and joints, and decreased blood-flow circulation. Work productivity also decreases when we are in environments that are not designed for proper ergonomics.
One other important thing to consider is the lighting levels in the space. I actually did not even think of this as an ergonomic design issue, but it truly is. Our eye muscles are the most used muscles in our entire body. We use our eyes in every situation throughout our entire day. Poor considerations for lighting causes very negative short and long-term effects. It is recommended that we use mixed levels of lighting in our environments. This allows for multiple options for each user depending on his or her preferences and physical needs. We also don’t want to have a direct light on our computer screen. In addition, we want to make sure that the contrast of light levels is as minimal as possible. One common place for this to be an issue is our computer screens. We need to keep the contrast between the brightness of the screen and the light levels of the room to least contrast as possible. If this is not considered, our eyes will quickly become tired because of the strain your eye muscles are experiencing. Furthermore, long-term strain on the eye muscles can cause eye damage and decreased sight.
We need to consider ergonomics in our designs and our everyday lives. We need to consider how people use all aspects of the space. The need to be conscious of all areas from designing for proper ergonomics in the workforce to making sure a vegetable peeler is properly designed for a human hand is very important. Surely, the failure to consider these issues in our designs will cause detrimental results to the users.