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Sean Rigdon

There are no existing architectural precedents concerning residences for dual sensory impaired persons. By analyzing research completed by various disciplines, highlighting tactile and olfactory clues seemed to be the most appropriate. Tactile clues stem from a variety of sources and have navigational and psychological effects on users. The olfactory sense augments these effects when used strategically. Certain materials, like Redcedar, have both tactile and olfactory attributes. These materials, when used on an incidental basis, assist a person with dual sensory impairments to easily navigate throughout their environment. By combining scientific research with design aesthetics, a new precedent in architecture for people with dual sensory impairments has been created.

At the site scale, the tactile senses are stimulated with grassy areas that will be used for lounging and gathering by all residents. These areas link private realms to public realms and serve as transitional zones. The olfactory sense will be stimulated by plantings specific to each residence. These planters serve as buffers from the public realms of the site and contain lavender and ginger, plants that elicit emotions to users with their specific scents.

Leading residents from the site scale into their respective households are tactile walls made of Redcedar and cork. The Redcedar stimulates both the tactile and olfactory senses with its pleasant textural and aromatic qualities. The cork, used for a variance of texture, has a warmer feel than the adjacent Redcedar, allowing the residents to follow this strip into their homes. Further tactile stimulation occurs in the form of temperature differences. At the south-facing façade of each residence, seating is incorporated into the glazing system and serves as a place where residents can lounge while feeling the warmth associated with solar radiation. A fireplace located in a central location within the social realm of each residence contributes to both tactile and olfactory stimulation. By burning wood, warmth is released to the surrounding area while emitting a distinct scent.

The senses are also stimulated within the most private of realms, the bedrooms. A change in floor material when crossing the threshold into the bedroom indicates the transition from the public realm. A bay window in each room allows the residents to feel solar warmth.

A music room was added to the architectural program when research indicated that vibrations are often overlooked when dealing with dual sensory impairments. Music will provide residents with an outlet to express themselves as well as a pleasant vibrotactile experience. By treating the walls of this music room with rotating panels, the space can be tuned to specific performances by exposing either the carpeted or the wood paneled side.

View Sean Rigdon’s Final Paper:

Context Plan

Diagrams and Inspiration

Building Plan

Building Sections and Perspectives

Residence and Music Room Plans

Residence Sections and Perspectives

Systems Diagrams

Wall Sections

Tactile Wall Section Model

Site Model


To view more of Sean Rigdon’s process, visit the studio Process page.