“Sentient” obviously refers to our senses. But it’s a word with deeper meaning. It also means being consciously aware of how we feel.
How do you design a home with feeling? With emotion? Christopher Travis, an architect from Texas who also has a philosophy degree, has crafted a psychological and aesthetic compatibility tool for his clients who believe, as he does, that a home does not have to be just a building. It can be an emotional experience.
Travis calls his trademarked process, “TrueHome.” At least 70 happy customers are living in homes that truly belong to them. They are “suites of emotional responses” emerging from the brains of the folks who live there. It’s why the New York Times called an article about Travis’s work, “Home is Where the Head Is” (July 17, 2008)
By referring to clients’ carefully answered questionnaires, Travis designs a home reminiscent of their happy childhood memories and avoids design elements that brought stress. By learning about the home-owner’s parents, siblings, relationships, childhood issues, life experiences, he tries to avoid what he calls “design dysfunction.” Travis doesn’t do these emotional profiles alone—a clinical and neuro psychologist help him. His 100 page client questionnaire has questions such as “if your partner’s messiness was behind closed doors, would you be willing to accept it?”
He read Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language and his website, sentient architecture.com has a blogspot Alexander, himself, would no doubt approve, called “Architecture of Life.”
In a recent blog, Travis writes about “Transforming Responsibility.”
“It may seem impossible to make any real difference. It may seem too overwhelming to even contemplate, but truthfully you do not have to know what to do or how to do it to make a powerful commitment.
All you have to do is pick yourself up, realize you have the power to control your words...and change the conversation”
Reflective of his own design process, Travis adds, “People must first see the possibility of a positive change before they can strive towards it. Human beings are profoundly emotional. They are profoundly social and collaborate instinctively. These facts mean we must give up the ‘one size fits all’ stereotypes we use to fix blame without ignoring the realities of human nature.”
We are now in the midst of changing many conversations. Travis, Alexander and others are changing the conversation about how we construct the spaces in which we live, the powerful places we call home.