Monday, 7 March 2011

Accounting for the Human Condition

I was awoken this morning by the squeakiest mini digger in the history of squeaky mini diggers, there must be a grease shortage in Melbourne.

Earlier in this blog (blog12) I wrote about the instinctive behaviour of humankind, the hardwired instincts that in many ways define who we are and how we react in given scenarios and environments. Lawson writes in  'The Language of Space' 'A common mistake is to concentrate too much on the central purpose of a space and thus to forget the rest of the human condition. Such a way of thinking leads us to the wonderfully efficient and clinically sterile hospital that treats the body and numbs the spirit!' I think many of us can identify with this example.

Of course the central purpose of a space is very important but to ignore the human condition will, in my opinion, have a negative impact on the success of the space.

He goes on to say that 'Another mistake is to copy the traditions of the past when they are no longer appropriate but have become stereotypes'. We see this regularly in learning space design, often when the ultimate users of the space are not consulted as to how the space will be used. In our case academics and students.  I can hear some say 'ask academics and students what they want, that's a bit radical'. Now think about purchasing a car. The salesman will ask hatchback or estate, what colour would you like, leather or fabric seats, size of engine, type of fuel,  2 or 4 wheel drive etc. If they did not ask these questions you could end up with a totally inappropriate vehicle. Those involved in space design need to start asking questions of appropriate groups in order to provide appropriate spaces that are fit for purpose.
Technology is also helping us to break away from the traditional learning space design. Interactive technology, distributed display, document cameras, control systems, lighting etc. However I would like to say at this point that the technology should compliment the space design and not dictate it. There will be times in these spaces when the technology may not be used and the activity may be group based discussion for example, in this case the shape and layout of the furniture is paramount. I often see domestic situations where the design of a lounge space is dictated by the size and location of the TV (technology). What impact does this have on the use of the space when reading or listening to music or just kicking the shoes off and doing nothing. I speak from personal experience here.
Tummy rumbles, breakfast calls

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