Tuesday, February 17, 2004


I have been thinking for a while on ways to create interesting and varied journeys through our built environment. The following is a guideline for developing journeys. It can be developed further into multiple patterns, based on types of journeys/experiences. (This can be a lifetime work for someone - documenting, analyzing and categorize journeys, and develop general patterns for each type).

1. Initial Considerations

Explore and decide on the type of journey(s) you want to create the setting for. What is the overall experience and progression of the journey(s)?

Think of it as a musical composition: a journey through moods and experiences with sequences, transitions, rhythms, and contrasts. Decisions here will influence which ones and how the following patterns and elements are applied.

2. Overarching Patterns

~ Analogs/metaphors/worldview
Be careful here – it may be good to focus on the experience and avoid heavy-handed analogs. But, it is also important to take a look at the journey you have created and be aware of what it expresses (the worldview it reflects).

Examples of metaphors…
- A series of minor destinations/oasises without any final destination, always something beyond
- A varied journey to a clear destination
- Through starkness/dark to richness/light
- Segments with few choices opens up to area of many choices

~ Progression
Decide on balance, sequence, transitions and rhythm among the following…
- Directed vs. user choices (few and many choices)
- Varied vs. uniform
- Straight vs. meandering
- Gentle vs. dramatic
- Journey vs. destination(s) emphasis
- Hierarchy/variation among destinations

~ Thresholds, Transitions and Layers
- Public/Private Gradient (move from one to another)
- Layered vs. “flat” (many or few transitions)
- Continuation vs. delineated (layered continued transitions through similar spaces vs. delineated transitions into very different spaces)
- Abrupt vs. gradual (thick wall/compressed vs. gradual changes in size/material/light)
- Change dimensions (in which dimensions do the transitions occur – light, material, space size, etc)

3. Variation and richness of experience

~ Contrasts
Use contrast to create experiences, variety, sequence, transitions and rhythm…
- Simple/rich
- Straight/meandering
- Rest/activity
- Close/far
- Overall forms/details
- Compression/decompression
- Large/small
- High/low
- Over/under
- Through/around
- Inside/outside
- Bright/dark
- Opaque/transparent
- Cold/warm
- Human made/nature
- Clean/textured
- Quiet/sounds

~ Involve all senses:
Explore how involving the senses enhances the journey…
- Sound
± Water (fountain, creek, rainwater)
± Wind (trees, whistles, wind chimes)
± Surfaces (hard/soft, clean/textured, gravel)
± People (voices, music)
- Smell
± Plants (flowers, herbs)
± Materials (wood, treated with natural waxes or paints mixed with aromatic oils)
± Essential oils
± Natural ventilation that brings in outside smells
± Cooking/food
- Taste
± Fruits (atrium, outside)
± Edible flowers
- Touch
± Texture (varied surfaces/materials on walls, floors, furniture)
± Water
± Plants
- Sight
± Light levels (bright/dark)
± Views/vistas
± Materials/texture

4. Tools & Approaches

The following are some tools and approaches that may be useful for designing an architectural journey…

~ Create a menu of possibilities
- List the different elements that can be included in the journey, think of polarities and contrasts

~ Explore relationships among the elements using…
- Pieces of paper
± Write the possibilities down on pieces of paper (one on each)
± Move them around to explore sequences, rhythm, transitions
- Drawings
± Visually explore moods, sequences, rhythms, transitions through drawings – represent the elements/experiences abstractly using color, shade, texture
- Visualization
± Mentally walk through and spend time in the spaces - explore moods, sequences, rhythms, transitions

~ Exercise suggestion
- Transpose a journey described in music, literature or dance into an architectural journey

In essence: Consider the journey as a musical composition – explore contrasts, sequence, rhythm, and transitions. Focus on the experiences of the user, but be also aware of the worldview your journey setting reflects.

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