Experience-Oriented Ecological Design: A Methodological Framework to Improve Human Experience in Urban Public Space Ecological Design

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Virginia Tech


This thesis proposes that sensory experience should play an important role in setting up a direct relationship between people and the natural environment, and it is based on the premise that contemporary urban public space ecological designs. Are often deficient in this regard. In order to develop a design methodology that addresses both ecological function and sensory experience, the author examine both contemporary western ecological design and classical Chinese garden design. The former focuses on the ecological functions of the environment, while the latter typically emphasizes the sensory qualities of the landscape. Drawing from the strengths of both approaches, an experience-oriented ecological design framework is proposed with the goal of improving human experience in urban public spaces. The framework emphasizes both sensory experience and ecological functions in two phases of the design process — site analysis and site design. The framework is applied to a design for Bridge Park in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. The design is evaluated to assess efficacy of the framework for the design urban public spaces that address both sensory experience and ecological processes. The evaluation suggests that the framework could be an effective tool for designers, and also draws conclusions regarding the potential role of sensory experience as a tool for creative discovery in the design process. Finally the paper raises questions regarding the desirability of employing sensory experience as a didactic tool to enhance environmental awareness.



Ecological Design, Sensory Experience, Urban Public Space