Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)



First Advisor

Dr. Garrett O'Sullivan

Second Advisor

Mr. Martin Boylan

Third Advisor

Dr. Jim Harrison


The 21st century, as a whole, has seen massive developments in smart technologies, environmental strategies and architectural form. The 3D built environment is advancing on a daily basis, but has become a very two dimensional experience, frontloaded with screened imagery and visual stimuli, which has encouraged a trend of ocular-centric dominance. Unfortunately, as a result of this, the human experience is often lost. The prioritisation of the multi-sensorial human experience is not only at threat from this visual predominance, but also environmental concerns and economy seem to hold a greater place on the hierarchy. Research carried out by the WHO established that the vast majority of people, spend up to 90% of their lives in indoor spaces (WHO, 1999), and yet this does not reflect the positioning of the human experience within the design process. By continuing to rely on one sensory modality, our built environment is increasingly failing to respond to the sensory and emotional needs of the user. Architectural design must remember it has a responsibility to enhance the human experience, not dismiss it.

Developing a level of awareness among the architectural design community is essential in order to prioritise the human experience throughout the design process. Although there is no immediate solution, education can play a key role in addressing this issue. If the education system begins to supply industry with graduates, who hold an awareness and knowledge for the multi-sensorial human experience and its emotional impact, this in turn, will encourage a more human-centred approach in industry which promises huge individual and societal benefits.

The primary aim of the research is to develop third level educational content, disseminated in the form of a module descriptor and educational resource pack, which addresses the human experience in the built environment, in terms of the sensory stimuli and emotional intelligence. The content allows, both the lecturer and student, to establish awareness of how people perceive, experience and develop relationships with any space, place or environment. This knowledge and understanding of the multi- sensory human experience should create awareness of how to better regulate and manage the balance of sensory exposure and emotional impact on the user in their 3D designs. Education is a practical, long-term approach to achieving sensory balance within the built environment.

The research carried out an observational period for one academic semester, to identify if sensory and emotional intelligence is being acknowledged within the design studio environment, and the type of teaching and learning methods typically used within an architectural educational facility, and problem based learning environment. The findings of the observational period, highlighted that no direct acknowledgement to sensory and emotional intelligence was made throughout the academic semester, furthermore, a low rate of inference was recorded within the design studio environment. These findings, together with literary support, informed the formulation of the module descriptor and educational resource pock.

In order to identify the strengths and limitations of the educational resource pack, two student cohorts participated in an educational trial, within the department of architecture, CIT. The content was tested over the course of an academic semester, as were the teaching and learning methods utilised to deliver the content. The main limitations identified were rooted in information literacy and language barriers, primarily as a result of the interdisciplinary nature of the content. The overall teaching and learning methods utilised showed many successes, when supported by sufficient time allocations. Finally, the educational resource pack in application, recorded a higher rate of inference during the educational trial, than the rate of inference recorded during the observational period.

A series of recommendations have also been identified for the areas of education, industry and further research.

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