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University of the Arts London

A phenomenological approach to primary research in Spatial Design


This case study advocates a phenomenological approach to site-specific documentation and evaluation, placing human psychological needs and lived experiences at the centre of Spatial Design education. The project, with 2nd year students from the BA (Hons) Spatial Design course at London College of Communication, delineates how primary research methods are introduced as a prelude to sensory driven design iterations. It showcases how a public space became a pedagogic environment for students to bridge the gap between studio practice and lived experiences through active learning. It also underlines how introducing practices informed by academic research enhances the students’ learning experience.


Primary Research, Active Learning, Spatial Design, Sensory Experience.


Author Biography

Valerie Mace

Valerie is Course Leader of the BA (Hons) Spatial Design at the London College of Communication. This innovative course integrates multidisciplinary practices to inform the design of experiential environments that cater for the diversity of human needs for sustainable futures. Previously, Valerie ran the FdA Graphic and Spatial Communication and the Interior Design Diploma courses at LCC. She also created a digital drawing virtual learning environment for the University of the Arts' Centre for Teaching and Learning, and taught on professional courses at Chelsea College of Arts.

As Senior Lecturer Valerie has gained extensive experience in teaching and curriculum developments for interior and spatial design practices. She also initiates collaborations with external partners, recently working with the Southbank University acoustic lab, Wimbledon Station, Team London Bridge and National Park City London. Valerie also develops international partnerships for Spatial Design at LCC and has set up a network with universities across Europe and further afield in Indonesia, Australia and India.

With a background in interior design for leisure and cultural environments, Valerie's work centres on experiential design, sensing and atmosphere. She draws on a variety of media, from mapping techniques to 3D digital environments, model making, photography, film and animated narratives.


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