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How to Design a Home as a Fitting Ecosystem

Don't just change your home. Change your life by changing your thinking about your living space!

This slideshow was created for presentation at the national meeting of the American Anthropological Association.

It explains the theory and practice behind a new approach to architecture and design that is currently under development for delivery on the Internet, but has been used for over a decade in a working architecture firm.

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How to Design a Home as a Fitting Ecosystem

  1. 1. American Anthropology Association - Annual Meeting, November 22, 2008 Moderator – Elizabeth Tunstall, Ph.D. – Transdisciplinary Theory Panel A Systematic Approach to Designing a Home as a Fitting Ecosystem Christopher K. Travis Sentient Architecture, LLC Nidiant Corporation – E-mail –
  2. 2. Question: What is “home”? <ul><li>A building </li></ul><ul><li>A financial asset </li></ul><ul><li>A state of being </li></ul><ul><li>A concept or set of ideas </li></ul><ul><li>An emotional experience </li></ul><ul><li>A claim to personal space </li></ul><ul><li>A statement of identity </li></ul><ul><li>A pattern of relationships </li></ul>ASSUMPTIONS
  3. 3. What is “home” made of? (Not a house…a home!) <ul><li>Dreams and Memories </li></ul><ul><li>Past experiences, fantasies, desires </li></ul><ul><li>Bricks and Sticks </li></ul><ul><li>Construction materials & components </li></ul><ul><li>Money, Time and Effort </li></ul><ul><li>Mortgages, rent, home improvements </li></ul><ul><li>Brain Function </li></ul><ul><li>Memory, perception, hormones, neurotransmitters </li></ul>
  4. 4. Evidence that “home” exists <ul><li>Language </li></ul><ul><li>Words, cross-cultural concepts </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative Evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Anecdotal stories, patterns of behavior, social agreements </li></ul><ul><li>Physiology </li></ul><ul><li>Animal-built structures, biometrics </li></ul><ul><li>Patterns of Relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Genetic, environmental, cultural, political, financial, psychological </li></ul>
  5. 5. A Definition of “Home” For humans, “home” is the complex relationship between the physical characteristics of a claimed, intimate space; the experience, nature and behavior of the inhabitants of that space; and the environment in which all occur. Like a forest, a pond, a city or a living body…a “home” is an ecosystem.
  6. 6. Question: What is a “human being”? <ul><li>Animal with unique DNA </li></ul><ul><li>A unique set of behaviors </li></ul><ul><li>A unique phenotype </li></ul><ul><li>An ontological experience </li></ul><ul><li>A socio-cultural phenomenon </li></ul><ul><li>A psychological structure </li></ul><ul><li>A complex adaptive system </li></ul>ASSUMPTIONS
  7. 7. What is the experience of being “human” made of? <ul><li>Sensory Perceptions </li></ul><ul><li>Thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>Emotions & Feelings </li></ul><ul><li>Physical Sensations </li></ul><ul><li>ALL are the result of brain functions cued by the environment around us. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Evidence that the experience of being “human” exists <ul><li>Complex Language </li></ul><ul><li>We have a broad variety of ways to say we are human. </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative Evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Anecdotal agreement. Again, we are human because we say so! </li></ul><ul><li>Built Environment </li></ul><ul><li>Humans are uniquely invasive for a large species. We change the world in big ways. </li></ul><ul><li>Patterns of Relationship </li></ul><ul><li>We keep doing the same things over and over and over. </li></ul>
  9. 9. How do you design a “home” to fit the experience of being human?
  10. 10. Particularly since most homes are shared by more than one person.
  11. 11. … and each of us has a unique “experience of home”!
  12. 12. What is stopping human-centered architectural design? <ul><li>Complexity of problem </li></ul><ul><li>Limited cross disciplinary study and “real world” applications </li></ul><ul><li>Timid or limited theories </li></ul><ul><li>Humans are irrational and lack awareness of what motivates their decisions! </li></ul>
  13. 13. Our Homes Are in Our Heads! (But most of us think our “experience of home” is in a building and approach the problem with “how to” methods.) People make most of their choices about their homes based on emotion and instinct…then rationalize their decisions after the fact.
  14. 14. At Truehome  , we see a “home” as an ecosystem, so we map the behavior and features of the inhabitants’ system.
  15. 15. Truehome  Testing Domains <ul><li>Site Conditions </li></ul><ul><li>Map what already exists in their heads about the process of creating a home </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional Response </li></ul><ul><li>Map affective and aversive emotional responses to images and questions </li></ul><ul><li>Birth Family Associations </li></ul><ul><li>Seek associative environmental structures in their attachment psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Goals and Values </li></ul><ul><li>Rational goals and values and subconscious behavioral goals and values </li></ul><ul><li>Relationship Dynamics </li></ul><ul><li>Map interpersonal, lifestyle & decision dynamics </li></ul><ul><li>Privacy and Intimacy </li></ul><ul><li>Map the dynamics of how they regulate their availability and needs for attention </li></ul><ul><li>Style Associations </li></ul><ul><li>Trend user responses to images. Random samples of styles, orientation and features. </li></ul><ul><li>Physical & Financial </li></ul><ul><li>Record physical objects, dimensions and emotional associations. Work with the dynamics of budget VS desires </li></ul>
  16. 16. Other techniques used to translate data into design criteria: <ul><li>Mental health professional and consumer join the design team </li></ul><ul><li>Work in an idealized metaphoric context </li></ul><ul><li>Observe body language, vocal tone, facial expressions. Visit existing homes </li></ul><ul><li>Seek stories of past homes - regression </li></ul><ul><li>Give priority to strong aversive and affective responses to features in images </li></ul><ul><li>Investigate birth family dynamics and space memory associations in memory </li></ul><ul><li>Employ techniques for prioritization </li></ul>
  17. 17. Evidence that it works as a systematic process <ul><li>Over a decade of successful use in the field </li></ul><ul><li>Substantial increase in customer satisfaction </li></ul><ul><li>Significant increase in client retention </li></ul><ul><li>Roughly 30% reduction in production costs </li></ul><ul><li>Endorsed by a variety of academic experts </li></ul><ul><li>All clients report long-term satisfaction in terms of the objective – fitting personal environments </li></ul>
  18. 18. … and a reasonable amount of media attention.
  19. 19. Automating Truehome  on the Internet to facilitate delivery <ul><li>Truehome’s environment/behavior authoring, analysis and delivery software is functional – Exercises can be authored by non-programmers. </li></ul><ul><li>Now engaged in user experience and product user interface review – Pre-market </li></ul><ul><li>Patent filed 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Current Challenges: User experience, project specific products, capital, new paradigm for design </li></ul>
  20. 20. Truehome  Projects Project: Johnston Major psychological influences: Need to control social environment, self expression Major style influences: Desire to be site appropriate; California childhood (arts & crafts) Time spent in rural Italy (lifestyle and dining)
  21. 21. Project: Ferester Major psychological influences: , empty nest, fun and family, high level of socialization Major style influences: Rural setting; innovation, antique materials, complex finishes
  22. 22. Project: Raymond Major psychological influences: Final home, expression of territory, father’s lighthouse studio Major style influences: Old world architecture; Need for style that allowed tower (lighthouse).
  23. 23. Project: Serenity Retreat Center Major psychological influences: Religious scripture, sacred psychological healing. Major style influences: Monasteries, Nature, Biblically referenced materials, symbolic details
  24. 25. Christopher K. Travis Sentient Architecture, LLC Nidiant Corporation – E-mail – [email_address] or [email_address] Blog – Phone - 979.249.5961