(Article written in collaboration with ArchDaily)
If asked about comfort, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Luxurious finishes, plush chairs and sleek interiors? Few would think of their office, and the likely culprit is a fundamental ignorance of an alternative definition of comfort. When defined as a state of physical well-being derived from the provisions that are necessary for occupants to perform space-specific tasks, it’s apparent that architects play a key role--and that comfort is not just about spaces that are comfortable for leisure activities.
Architects and designers are responsible for the visual, thermal and acoustic qualities of spaces, not to mention the indoor air quality of our offices and homes. This is fundamental considering that the typical 21st century urbanite spends an average of 90% of time indoors. We constantly experience physical, psychological and physiological consequences of the balance (or imbalance) of indoor environmental design .
With this in mind, thermal comfort seems obvious (and it is) but unfortunately comfort as a holistic goal of architecture has not been taken seriously enough. Beyond measuring the acoustic and visual aspects of a built space, architects must have a solid understanding of the underlying concepts that drive the best practices. A solid grasp on how material selections will affect qualitative assessments of conferences rooms, homes, theaters, etc. can improve basic tectonic decision making that can, in turn, create more comfortable spaces.