Shaping Space by Experience Data (2017)
Master Thesis – Estonian Academy of Arts – Department of Architecture
supervisors Martin Melioranski and PhD Renee Puusepp
The project examines how the main actors in spatial perception – space, senses, brain – have become definable in terms of data, and how to make use of it while shaping spatial experience. The proposed technique allows to extract users’ experience data from brain-computer interfaces as they visit VR environments, and apply this data in the design process.
The potential use of the technique is demonstrated by the example of an innovation centre situated in the empty riverbed of the River Wien, the spaces in the building being programmed to adjust according to the visitors’ experience data. The principles for the adaptation of the spaces are based on various illusion techniques that allow the ostensible properties of the environment to be distorted in a data-based manner. The boundary situations and adaptation logic are designed by the architect, while the user shapes the situation at a given moment in time. This results in an experience-charged space that recognizes the beholders’ spatial experiences and adapts itself accordingly.
While data-based solutions are increasingly improving our everyday lives, in architecture they are related more often to optimized production, environmental sustainability, programmatic functionality, economic applicability and other technical aspects, in case of which no particular attention is devoted to user experience. In its most common present forms data-based approaches devalue spatial quality in architecture. Considering experiential impact the main criterion for spatial quality, “Shaping Space by Experience Data” combines virtual reality and brain tracking techniques to track beholders’ spatial experience in data format and apply this data in an experience-oriented design process.
The method was developed in the course of laboratory experiments, where I instructed test subjects to visit various test models in a virtual reality environment, recording their location, direction of sight and bioelectrical brain activity data. The indicators of their emotional states were ascertained by valence-arousal method on the scales of activity-passivity and positivity-negativity. The data was analyzed by post-scientific methods that allow to enter the indicators into spatial models and manipulate their formal properties on the basis of these data, so that users’ experiential responses would be expressed as spatial interactions. This transfer of experiential data to spatial models was a key stage in developing principles governing potential boundary situations for the accompanying architectural project: an innovation centre situated in contemporary public space that is programmed to adjust according to its visitors’ experience data.
The spaces of the innovation centre are adjusted by data-based illusion techniques that alter the perceived properties of the spaces by light, optics, reflection and perspective distortions. Physical and non-physical space produce a combined effect. The building’s spatial properties remain physically unchanged, but its ostensible characteristics extend the spaces virtually and make us perceive new dimensions that adapt according to our responses.
videos: project overview