101 Things I Learned in Architecture School (iii)

101 things I learned in architecture schoolAmong the potential lessons for UX [and designers in general] from Architecture is the way that the impact of spaces can differ from the impact of the whole.

For example take a building. Does the emotional impact of a corridor necessarily need to match the grandeur of its exterior? Can a grand cathedral have a humble entryway? Let’s take the emotional requirements for a banking website into consideration. Perhaps its exterior needs to convey a message of “authority”, to instill a sense of “security.” But quite counter to that, the daily user of the site wants to feel something “safe,” but “friendly” and ‘warm.” Could a banking website project the reverse and have a strong web presence? Perhaps, but the lesson isn’t as prescriptive as it is instructive: the experience of the parts doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as the sum.

“A floor plan demonstrates the organizational logic of a building; a section embodies its emotional experience.” (page 168)

But what I like about this statement is the way it posits the scales on which components of a whole  are experienced: the emotional comes from the smaller scale interactions; the experiences on the task level or on a specific task model. The organizational feel comes form the large: the organization, the scale, the relationship to the external. Does information architecture function more acutely at this scale, while the emotion and experience takes place at the ‘lower’? I think of us as colleagues [titles aside] but does a title say something about a perspective or orientation? What is in a name after all?