It smells… delicious: Applied Phenomenology


Architects study objective and subjective aspects of the built environment. Objective subjects are easily observed and quantified. A bridge structure collapses when subjected to a certain amount of load. Phenomenology is a philosophical approach to more subtle qualities of our surroundings, and has been adopted by architects as a useful framework. It acknowledges that we experience our environment with all senses, and explores conscious and subconscious reactions to various inputs. We may have strong reactions to a place that subconsciously triggers certain associations.

The sense of smell can transport us back to long forgotten memories. It is directly connected with the sense of taste, and it comes to no surprise that it should be of special concern when designing a dining facility.

Fresh bread comes out of the oven at Model Bakery,  Oxbow CA Public Market.

First impressions when approaching the front door of a restaurant are affected by smells reaching from old liquor, burnt fryer oil, chlorine bleach, artificial air freshener, or neutral, to subtle smells of wood, caramelizing onions, baked apple, fresh baked bread, roasted garlic, and fresh croutons  fried in butter.  Careful planning of food preparation locations, as well as air supply and exhaust systems make a big difference. Conscious distribution of “smells” during opening hours such as serving baskets of fresh bread, accompanied by some herbed butter can make all the difference.

Provided by Spark Architecture

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Sophia Sparklin

Growing up in a family with generations in medical practice, Sophia discovered her passion for architecture during an internship 1996. Since then Sophia received formal and informal education in Germany and the US. At Arizona State University she was honored by the Henry Adams Certificate for graduating on top of her (Master of Architecture) class in 2005.