Creativity flourishes on the bridge between two very separate ideas. It’s that “Aha!” moment as two (or more) perspectives merge and you find new depths and insight to your original idea. There is a deep and underlying connection between ALL things and when you tap into this, you can apply layers upon layers of insight into the intricacies of your design.
On Tuesday, The indigo project was invited to provide feedback on the works of UTS Masters of Architecture students. The student’s work centred around observations of human behaviour in public spaces to draw conclusions about the interplay between the architecture and the human condition.
To begin, we shared with the students our own research experience. In Australia, en route to becoming a psychologist you will have written at least one comprehensive thesis in your studies, likely in your Honours year. Within the field of psychology, research is based on the scientific method. That is, one begins with a thorough review of the scientific literature on the designated topic. We begin broad in our research, exploring theories of behaviour that underpin our idea and then the vast number of studies that have explored these theories, whittling down to a specific research question to address a gap in the literature. With this question in mind, we design an experiment (often building on previous experiments) to investigate it.
Understandably, this is quite in contrast to the naturalistic observation method the students were instructed to take for their project. While you can collect data for your research through naturalistic observation, this is often time consuming and draws a lot of data when there isn’t a specific question in mind.
We offered guidance from a research perspective as to how they may narrow down their scope and how to operationalise (and therefore test) unseen factors that they proposed may underlie the interactions in the public space. For example, ‘love’ is an intangible construct that may seem immeasurable. However, as psychologists we might measure ‘love’ through a self-report questionnaire or recording specific observations. ‘Love’ may be characterised as the sum of the amount of time spent with the other person, the number of times the two physically touch, the amount of smiling at the other person. Quantifying the observations of specific behaviours and interactions could then be used to compare the degree of intimacy between the different couples.
It was fantastic to see the architecture student’s perspectives and how the naturalistic method they adopted fostered deep insight into their designs and therefore their conclusions. As the students presented their works, we provided a psychological understanding to their inductive conclusions. All manner of topics from the psychology of risk, diffusion of responsibility and social or group psychology added much more depth and insight to their works. In any work, blending the perspective from another industry with your own can lead to profound insights as to why things are the way they are, or how they can be done better.
Ideas and Inspiration – Takeaway points:
With any idea it is important to pay attention to how you come to draw these conclusions. Is it based on preconceived ideas or biases? Are you testing these assumptions in the environment, or are they ruling your inferences?
Experimentation is key. Be a little unorthodox. Think outside the box. Test what works, and adjust if it doesn’t. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to see a change.
Share your work with someone in another field and get their opinion. See how effective the idea is to them, or what implications your idea would have to the people they work with. You will gain fresh perspective and also know whether your idea is viable before investing greater time and effort to bring your project to fruition.
Ultimately, people are going to be using the spaces architects design. From Tuesday’s class, it was clear that applying psychology and social sciences to the design of architectural works allows not only for greater insights to how the space will work on a practical level, but also allows architects to find more meaning and purpose from their work.
We were delighted to hear such positive feedback from the UTS Architecture students at the end of the class and look forward to working with them again in future.