Applying HCI Methods and Concepts to Architectural Design (Or Why Architects Could Use HCI Even If They Don’t Know It)


The act of designing a building is indirectly, but conceptually very closely, linked to the user experience of its final outcome. It is this experience which often constitutes a major criterion for assessing the quality of the architect’s work. And yet, it would be a gross overstatement to suggest that architectural design is a user-centered process. On a more generic level, designing any physical object acting as a catalyst for the final experience can be viewed as an act of designing a human-artifact interaction where the ‘artifact’ (be it a building or a computer device) serves as an interface for the ultimate behavior or emotional reaction. This chapter argues, that the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) can be viewed as a source of inspiration for architects wishing to incorporate, or enhance, user-centric planning routines in their creative workflows. Drawing from the methodological toolbox of HCI, we demonstrate how user- centric planning can be placed in a structured framework, with tested and easy-to- apply methods serving as the vehicle for holistic user-centered planning processes. The chapter proposes a formal model for understanding usability and user experience in the architectural context, demonstrates a number of methods suitable for its application, and concludes with a case study of an attempted use of one of such methods in an award-winning (yet, not necessarily user-friendly) public library project.

Architecture and Interaction: Human Computer Interaction in Space and Place