Emotional Change Management – A Post Pandemic Way Forward – Part II , by Seema Lele

Look at usual things with unusual eyes      Vico Magistretti, The Humanist Architect

Placemaking

meaningful experience

Design is not just about the appearance of space alone but how it is experienced as places to be in. A combination of multi-sensory ambience that leads to a spatial sequential experience for our embodied spirit. Sustainability in design then, is not limited to energy efficiency alone, but an eternal resonance space seeks with the soul.

The Intent

As this period of self-isolation and containment ends, the workforce will return to the workplace. The ramifications of COVID-19 have rippled across every aspect of our professional and personal lives. It puts greater responsibility on design to address and adapt the lessons and experiences into the metrics of the new-normal. To front-end this change management process with an emotional intent rather than tacit knowledge.

The Context

Coronavirus has pushed the whole of humanity in the state of Metanoia. The elements of reflection and transformation have resulted in a change of heart and mind. This change will cause an altered perspective towards the sense of space. The function and utility of the space will no longer be limited to the external physicality but will have to be responsive to the internal sensitivities of the user, its occupant. Each user will bring in a separate series of associations, his family, his means of commute, the time, the distance, his set of irregularities, and the uncertainties. It is virtually impossible to attend to every individual’s needs. However, it is beneficial to engage the user on multiple sensory levels to imprint a long-lasting positive experience. The favorable experience will result in higher productivity in limited time. Our environments have a visceral effect on our mind and our inner wellbeing. Interactions with people behaviour experts have indicated how a designer can attune to the emotional reactions and design a responsive rhythm to the surrounding space.

The reasons why you like a place or you do not, cannot always be expressed.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.

 

experience /ɪkˈspɪərɪəns,ɛkˈspɪərɪəns/

Feel (an emotion or sensation)

Due to practical contact with and observation of facts or events.

-Merriam-Webster

Put simply, it is a first-hand, personal account of an unbiased observation of a feeling. No other profession but the designers are at the liberty to create a manifestation of feelings that cumulatively make up for an experience. As designers, how do you dictate how the feel? Let us curate the user experience enriched by the expert opinions.

To look around is to look ahead — according to the fundamentals of Anthropology. Agrees, Gayatri Sapru, a cultural strategist who puts people into the process of every equation. Understanding people and preempting their behaviour has always been the principle of social sciences. Business tends to imagine a future that will come from a stroke of tech genius — whereas the social scientist looks around to see subtle changes as disruptions towards innovations. The science of observation is sometimes referred to as ‘going native’ wherein you are forced to watch the relationship between the activities and its environment and to discover behavioral patterns. Post occupancy evaluations (POE) and evidence-based design (EBD) systematically evaluate measurable aspects in buildings. It includes levels of energy efficiency or the life-cycle costs but how do you measure the happiness quotient at the workspace? How do you quantify the intangible emotions which make you fiercely productive and proactive? There lies the difference between the Big Data and the Thick Data. An analyst can give you the number of times a co-worker gets up and walks to the photocopier, informing a designer on carpet durability, desk placements, or proper lighting.

But an ethnographer will watch people walk to the photocopier, consider how they navigate through the office, and observe how they interact with their coworkers. It’s the difference between asking people to explain what they do versus watching them do it and use those inputs to support, enhance, augment, or radically alter those places.

The energy of the space is the essence of the experience — advocates Swati Sule, a hypnotherapist and energy healer, from the institute EKAA. Every space has its own vibrations, just like every person has his own. Thoughts of a person are his primary source of vibrations. These thoughts are nothing but static energy which when in motion becomes kinetic energy. Hence, one of the important factors influencing the vibrations of the space are the thoughts of the people, its users, its occupants. The designer has the power to influence the thoughts of the space used. We are encouraged, not inhibited by design. Freed from anxiety and feelings of unease induced by hostile buildings, spaces, and surfaces, positive our emotions blossom in our subconscious. A building designed with sufficient attention paid to the natural rhythms of human neurobiology can result in conscious joy. By creating honest, reassuring, and stimulating environments the designer can create a place to heal and uplift. By introducing adequate sunlight, choice of colours and texture of materials, a space experience can be sequenced into a beautiful rhythm. According to Swati, the utility of the space should be carefully yet subtly introduced at a deeper level with the design content. Placing, ‘switch words’ (REACH, RECEIVE, REFLECT, etc.) at strategic locations at work will direct actions at a subconscious level. Choreographing sounds of running water, or sea waves coupled with meditative signs and symbols, can heed healing. Outdoor areas for instant connect with the elements of nature or a grass patch within the closed space can co-create the association with Earth, leading to the inner well-being and wellness of every individual.

Traditionally, most designers might start with a program or concept—square feet, color scheme, or spatial hierarchy, has anyone ever considered moving in, and working around in the same space before diving straight into design? Looking through the eyes of the user is a great way in, says Jane Fulton Suri, a leader of human-centered design at IDEO. That’s the basis of the content in design.

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home”

-Twyla Tharp

Choreographer, Author of The Creative Habit

To make experiential design an art, is to make the space serve the intention of preparation and effort...only this time, making it the habit of design.

– Seema Lele

Architect I Content-led Strategist

A multi-part essay on emotional forces in design – way forward for the change management process.

AUTHOR

Share your comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More to Explore

Angelica Grace Home, at Tamil Nadu, by Shanmugam Associates

Senior living planned using low cost construction techniques – Angelica Grace Home, at Tamil Nadu, by Shanmugam Associates

With a pristine thought of serving the aged, Clarac Charity Trust approached the architects to develop a senior living. Trichy, a tier-2 city located in the central region of Tamil Nadu in India, is well connected, has affordable cost of living, offers good water yield and is a religious hub; therefore making the city ideal for senior living. Angelic Grace Home is a 30,000-sqft Ground +2 structure that was planned comprising 50 fully furnished rooms. Abundant natural lighting and ventilation, constraints on construction cost and community spaces for the elderly were factors that influenced the design approach. – Shanmugam Associates

Read More »
Central Vista Redevelopment

Central Vista Redevelopment: An Architectural Perspective, by Samvad Design Studio

In a nation regarded as a palimpsest, how does one build? This is the task ahead of architect Bimal Patel and it is against the backdrop of layered history, we analyse the proposal for the Central Vista. While, much of the opinions in public domain about the project revolve around its politics, this article attempts to analyse the proposal as a polemical as well as technical exercise in urban design and architecture – where the program, site, client, budget and time-lines prescribed are regarded as a given. The reading of the proposal reveals a conciliatory approach at the urban level, post-ideological position at the architectural level and literal treatment of the interiors. – Samvad Design Studio

Read More »
Professor Anand Swarup Arya, an Earthquake Engineer for the poor and the non-engineered

Professor Anand Swarup Arya, an Earthquake Engineer for the poor and the non-engineered

Professor Anand Swarup Arya, Padma Shri (2002), United Nations Sasakawa Disaster Prevention Award (1997) was a rare professor, academic administrator, scholar and mentor. His passing away after a singular life of service to the engineering and architecture community of India and the world perhaps did not get the attention it deserved. These two tributes by two of his students, both highly reputed Structural Engineers will hopefully help convey Professor Arya’s life and work to the larger architecture and construction community.

Read More »
Rajasthan State Archives Museum, Bikaner, by Dronah

Rajasthan State Archives Museum, Bikaner, by Dronah

The recently completed Rajasthan State Archives Museum at Bikaner, by Dronah, is an invaluable resource for the nation. It is one of the first archives’ museums in India that sets a benchmark for other State Archives Department in the country as to how invaluable historic documents and old land records can be transferred from dust-laden stores to be conserved and showcased in a publicly engaging and state of the art designed museum.

Read More »
Topsy Tury at Nagpur by Zeel Architects

Topsy-Turvy at Nagpur, by Zeel Architects

Situated on a small plot of 16.0 x 30.20 mts. And having an even smaller usable floor plate of about 13.20 x 21.60 Mts., the Topsy Turvy by Zeel Architects, building stands out from the neighbourhood, due to the geometric envelope holding jalis in it.

Read More »