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Capture the moment! Draw upon your sharpest tool- your memory. Close your eyes and take a deep look within your inner soul. Where have you been? Which place has left its mark on you? What can you remember about the light, the color, the sounds, the smells and the views? Draw upon your memory frames of full body perception- all senses working together…the first moment of approach, the threshold or entry, the look around, the contemplative moment. Sequence, or put in order, your memory frames, significant views and moments in time. With all your senses, sharpen your powers of observation and reveal the true essence of the world around you. Designers have ‘fly eyes’ observing the world and people. Designers who use all their sense powers have full body experiences with places!

Embrace place time! Build your memory power!

Activity 1 – Describe the Best and Worst Spaces You Have Experienced

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Think of the best and the worst space that you have ever been in. Take time to remember it in detail - visually, tactually, and auditorially. First, map a word web with the name of the place in the center. Choose descriptive adjectives to color your verbal picture. Do the same map for the negative space. Equally choose critical adjectives which point out the unpleasant and undesirable aspects of the space. Record your memory through writing ten sentences of observations for the + place experience and for the – place experience, highlighting descriptive words and phrases which give + or – value to your experience. Then use 4 x 6 cards to draw a colored picture of both spaces. Cut and paste the + and – spaces and descriptions in your journal.

You are now a space critic!

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Activity 2 – Picture a Place

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Do you have old vacation photographs? When you look at the picture, what do you remember? Can you see where they were taken? Can you hear and smell the place? Can you place the time they were taken and with/by whom? Why were they taken? See how many pictures you can look at.

A picture is worth a thousand words!

Activity 3 – Annotate a 5-Minute Walk

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As we experience spaces and environments, our senses work in isolation and in tandem. What we remember is what our senses have recorded and built into tangible scenarios. Take a virtual tour of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay (in resources). Note the long views and up close attention to detail. Both the long and short views make up an experience and influence how we interpret and select things to remember.

Stepping outside, take (20) 4 x 6 sequentially numbered (1-20) postcards and start out on a 5 minute walk. Stop every 15 seconds and take a moment to concentrate on a mental picture. Next, take a moment to record a quick sketch of what you want to remember. Also make a verbal bank of descriptors of what you are seeing and feeling in that space on back of the same card. Try to focus on the task at hand. You can record your directed gaze and touch and hearing as well as your peripheral attention to details or + or –. Return inside and piece together your 20 freeze frames. In your journal, using your sketches and your notes, re-draw the sequence of your journey in 20 steps. Beside each sketch, add verbal notes about what was important in that moment in time.

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Activity 4 – Imagine a place!

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Close your eyes. Hold your breath. Imagine a space that you have never seen, experienced or been in. What kind of space can you imagine? Is it small or large? Is it quiet or loud? Is it for dreaming or making? Is it for resting or an activity or several activities? Who is your space for? What is the floor or ground material? What are the surrounding walls or structures; are they open or closed? Is there a roof or do you look up into the sky (or a painting of the sky?). Is your space in a cloud in the sky or in a water drop in the ocean? Is it a black and white space or is it multi-colored? What textures and patterns make up your space? Make an extraordinary imaginary space!


  • Perception means to become aware of your surroundings.
  • The continuum of experience in which events pass from the future through the present to the past is:
  • To order or arrange events is to:
  • Our senses build into cognitive processes which record experience.
  • Careful word choice helps clearly express ideas.
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