How did we come to know what we know? We come to know the truth through our senses. Our senses are our learning tools. As children, we innocently touch or even bite everything that comes our way in order to gain an understanding of our environment. Playgrounds are very exciting places for kids because they demand that the users engage their senses and interact socially with their surroundings. As we get older, we still have the need for sensory engagement but we tend to hold back due to past experiences and fear.
...the body is the soul’s prison unless the five senses are fully developed and open.
The goal is to design sensory rich environments that will be more moving, without being stressful. There is so much that we can learn just by looking. According to Chris Downey, a blind architect, 80% of our sensory experience is visual. There is a strong dependence on the visual sense, but how about our experiences on a hot day? Not only do we see the sun shining bright, but we can also feel the warmth on our skin. How about on a rainy day? Not only do we feel the rain drops, but we can hear them falling onto the roofs of buildings and we are also able to smell the rain. How about walking into your mother’s kitchen as she’s making dinner? Not only can you smell the sweet aroma, but you can also taste the food. These are images in our minds that all people can visualize, blind or sighted. The senses give us something to remember. When all of the accessible senses are engaged, our experiences are enhanced. It is very difficult to photograph acoustics, scents or tactility, but it is hard to forget the distinctive things we hear, smell and touch.
If people are taught in multi sensory spaces, not only will their memories of those spaces be more positive, but they will also be learning more. With positive experiences, more people will be excited about learning. With multi-sensory spaces, people with disabilities are given the opportunity to explore and learn. Sensory rich environments give people the opportunity to expand their knowledge to the fullest and create positive memories of spaces.
The goal is to encourage people to appreciate their senses, whether they are sighted or blind. The spaces should invite people to look into the world, not just with their eyes, but with their whole body.
Another goal is to have people understand themselves better. To gain a better sense of self. The senses interact with each other to give us experiences. The way people perceive the world is through the senses. How we perceive the world affects everything we do or say. The senses are constantly working together to keep the body functioning correctly. If we use our senses more, we can live better lives and encourage those around us to do the same.