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What if we designed for all of our senses? Suppose for a moment that sound, touch, and odor were treated as the equals of sight, and emotion considered as important as cognition. What would our built environment be like if sensory response, sentiment, and memory were critical design factors, the equals of structure and program?

In Sensory Design, Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka explore the nature of our responses to spatial constructs-from various sorts of buildings to gardens and outdoor spaces, to constructions of fantasy. To the degree that this response can be calculated, it can serve as a typology for the design of significant spaces, one that would sharply contrast with the Cartesian model that dominates architecture today.

In developing this typology, the authors consult the environmental sciences, anthropology, psychology, and architectural theory, as well as the spatial analysis found in literary depiction. Finally, they examine the opportunities that CAVE(tm) and other immersive virtual reality technologies present in furthering a new, sensory-oriented design paradigm. The result is a new philosophy of design that both celebrates our sensuous occupation of the built environment and creates more humane design.

Joy Monice Malnar, AIA, is assistant professor of architecture at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Frank Vodvarka is associate professor of fine arts at Loyola University Chicago. They are coauthors of The Interior Dimension: A Theoretical Approach to Enclosed Space (1992).