The study of sensory stimulation as an architectural design tool : a proposed children's centre and community facility in Umlazi.
Architecture is intended to house, shelter and define the framework within which human activity occurs. It is far more than purely functional and its vast impact on the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of its users should not be ignored. Unfortunately, much contemporary architecture has become driven by external appearances, pushing the boundaries of technology and engaging with the eyes. The sensory aspects of architecture that enhance the body's experience, have largely been neglected, much to the detriment of the human experience, as it is through the body that one perceives, engages and enjoys architectural spaces. This dissertation looks into a more appropriate response to architectural design that understands the significance of the sensory experience of the human body. Benefits of such an architectural theory are considered and the practical application of this approach to architectural design is discussed. Furthermore, this exploration is used to analyse children's experience of the built environment. Basic research recognises the importance of the environment on children's development; however, this knowledge is seldom applied to the design of children's spaces. The research undertakes to more fully examine children's development and the physical, sensory and psychological manner in which children engage with the built environment. The findings include proposed design approaches that suitably respond to this. The research culminates in an analysis of the sensory approach to architecture in the local context of KwaZulu-Natal. Conclusions are drawn from the research carried out through interviews, a review of literature, and analysis of case studies and precedents studies. The outcome of this dissertation is a set of recommendations, principles and an understanding of the criteria necessary to inform the design of a Children's Centre and Community Facility in Umlazi.