Sensory Reflections of Japanese Architecture

Go out to nature and learn from experiences what natural  structures men find beautiful, because it is among such structures that men’s aesthetic sensitivity evolved. Then return to the drawing board and emulate these structures in the design of your city streets and buildings.” – Nicholas Humphrey (1980)

Have you ever been in awe of its sensory richness? Like watching fish in an aquarium, people not only enjoy the visual but they also experience reduced stress and lightness from the motion (Katcher and Wilkins, 1993).

Architectural design concepts have historically captured the sensory appeal into the built form.

 – Touch – Smell – Taste – Sight – Sound –

Traditional Japanese architecture have been able to capture such sensory elements particularly well. For example, Japanese gardens with a little brook will engage bypassers with their sound, the environment and capture their attention serendipitously.

A sense of freeness and connection between the inside and outside can be established with a line of sight and open space to remove the boundaries separating the two.

Feelings of resilience can also be enhanced by incorporating the ability to adapt, change and strengthen over time. The ability for the occupant to engage and control the building provides a sense of power to direct and organise.


It’s important to ask when defining the concept design ask

  • What is the idea?
  • Can it be explained clearly and with a functional task?
  • How is the concept supported by the materials?
  • How is the concept reflected in the details?
  • Can you take something away?
  • Should you add something?

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