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COMMUNICATIVE SPACES

September 1, 2014

Exposure to environmental stimuli seems to considerably affect human development. The neurologist and Nobel Laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini once wrote that perception "creates while we move”. In other words, while we experience space we build our memories: we learn.

Since ancient times humans have felt the need to adapt their surrounding environment – including their own body - to communicate. Painted caves may be considered a primitive example of spaces transformed by humans to convey messages intentionally, followed by later architecturally integrated examples such as low reliefs, frescos, mosaics and stained glass windows.

In 1967 the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan published The medium is the massage, highlighting how each medium can stimulate human senses. These can be excited e.g. by lights, colours, motion, sounds and smells, which can become part of our memory and knowledge, being associated with specific experiences as described in the well-known madeleine cake passage of À la recherce du temps perdu by Marcel Proust.

Designing communicative spaces means designing stimuli and associations to those stimuli to be remembered by people.

 

Stained glass, Canterbury Cathedral. Photo by Mattana

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