Smout Allen

Patrick Horne Y5

How Do You Feel? This project attempts to realign architectural practice with environmental psychology by exploring how virtual environments may be used as an architectural feedback tool. Virtual environments have been proven to psychologically affect us in an extremely similar manner to physical environments, thus offering architects a new platform to analyse our psychological reaction to their designs. In light of rapid progression in the field of cognitive neuroscience, this work examines how architectural intuition can remain relevant considering our increasingly quantifiable understanding of our spatial inhabitation. 

Five experiments are undertaken to help explore how we can extract useful information from our interactions with virtual environments to inform architectural design. For each experiment a different method of consultation is tested within the design process of five separate buildings sited within the city of Vernon, Los Angeles California. Each consultation process was subsequently interrogated, building a body of research that proposes a realistic application for these consultation processes and informs further work in this field.

The city of Vernon was chosen as a test-bed for this project due to its unique socio-political standing. Emerging from decades of corrupt leadership – in which a handful of presiding officials have limited the city’s population to just 116 permanent residents whilst collecting an increasingly high industrial tax – the city is in a unique state of flux. Forced by LA County to alter its population, the ‘industrial city’ of Vernon now faces rapid gentrification in the form of thousands of new residents. Therefore, the buildings tested with this project form a new civic infrastructure for the city, each acting as a catalyst to ‘civilise’ Vernon. Through a process akin to psychological testing, each building uses public participation via virtual reality to promote change and growth for the city through a new form of inhabitant-led design.

National Reserve 2018