Sensory Spaces, Memory Traces



Space is constructed from our personal experiences of the world, from the information that we gather through our senses. The ways in which we interact with and also develop the built environment are complex, subjective, and varied because our sense of space is learned. This thesis explores space through sensory experiences and memory to challenge traditionally static conceptions of architecture and discover potentials within a multi-sensory design approach.

Space is constructed with accumulated memories, but it blurs and erases as those memories fade. This thesis uses the lens of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia symptoms to consider how spaces can facilitate safety, dignity, and quality of life. Through this perspective, sensory engagement becomes critical for accessing and navigating space. The ephemeral presence of space creates opportunities for health and beauty within the built environment that may benefit society overall.

The garden is a public gathering venue that enhances the sensory experiences of those who occupy it. While it is designed through the mentality of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia symptoms, it exhibits creative modes of sensory saturation in the built environment, beyond the home or care facility, to draw others into its spaces. These spaces celebrate life in the present, encouraging postures for activity and serenity. The flexibility of these spaces ally interior and exterior components to provide moments of comfort and connection. The variety in these spaces accommodates the limitations and the delights that may follow disease progression, promoting empathy throughout. Narrative brings these multiple experiences together in a single frame of space to transform it and those who embrace it.