the lca journal: news & views from the LCA team

  • Louis Chiodo Architects

Architectural Atmospheres: How Spaces Make Us Feel

We’re often unaware of it whilst living our daily lives, but architectural atmosphere is all around us.

Architectural atmosphere is the immediate result of the play between formal design elements that come together to evoke sensory experience. It habitually falls into our subconscious thought, but this intangible device has the power to determine the way we perceive a space whilst existing within in.

Gernet Böhme (A German philosopher) describes the concept of atmosphere in his writing, as the conscious production of an environment to evoke mood or sensory experience. His discussion about the application of atmosphere to landscape, art and advertising demonstrates that atmospheres don’t always occur naturally, but can be meticulously designed to evoke specific experiences for those who encounter them. We can apply this theory directly to architecture and the way in which we consciously design spaces to evoke specific feelings.

As architects designing homes, we like to understand how our clients want to feel in their environment as this directs our design process. What kind of ambience do they want to experience whilst living in their spaces? How do they want the architecture to make them feel?

For example, our brief for the Rye House was to create a home that evokes an atmosphere of calmness. The client wanted to feel connected to nature through the architectural form and to experience a sense of privacy whilst circulating through the interior spaces.

Taking this into consideration, we designed a house (and concurrently, an architectural atmosphere) that met this need, with the use of natural materials such as Victorian Ash timber, light veneer cabinetry and sandstone elements. We enhanced this feeling by flooding the house with sunlight through the use of full height windows and high ceilings.

This discussion prompts us to think about how we experience the spaces that we live in. How does the architectural atmosphere of your home influence the way you feel?