The Bartlett School of Architecture


Ava Aghakouchak

Image from the Op.12 Experimental Performance. 2018. Source: Ava Aghakouchak



Performing Spaces; An Attention Oriented Study of Human Perception

First and second supervisors 


This research focuses on the potential of artificial synesthesia in studying the information-reduction mechanisms of the body-mind. Human’s fixed capacity for analyzing sensory information alongside the effects of environmental attention results in lower resolution perceptual experiences of the environment than reality. Therefore, we introduce human-machine amplifiers as tools for redirecting user’s attention to certain architectural elements which might enhance user’s spatial perception and their sense of presence. 

Through research on the most affective mediums of transmitting spatiotemporal information to the body-mind, we aim to deepen user’s internal somatic experience. During the first stage of this research, a set of live performances aims to capture both the effects of directed attention on performer’s internal somatic experience and their external behavior.

The research on the body-mind composition and methods of translating internal somatic experience to external bodily representations, in the form of “performing spaces”, is used to illuminate whether enhanced perception can turn a dancer’s movements into a more spatially engaging performance. In the second stage, we aim to construct a Virtual Reality platform that can help the performer’s body-mind familiarize with the interface for a longer period of time.

By the end of the research period, we aim to have achieved a better understanding of how thought synesthesia can help the body-mind construct new cross-modal sensory experiences and how this enhanced level of perception can be used to augment the external behavior of a user within the environment. 


Ava Aghakouchak is an architectural and interaction designer. She is currently a PhD candidate at The Bartlett School of Architecture where she is carrying out her research on the effects of active wearables on the loop between the body-mind, machines and the built environment.

Ava’s interest in designing human-machine interfaces resulted in her MArch graduate design project “Sarotis”, which was highlighted by Domus as one of the top ten design projects of 2016. Since then, she has shared her research progress at venues such as Here East (2018), Resonate Media Arts Festival (2017), The Bartlett School of Architecture (2017), King’s College London (2017) and Royal College of Art (2016).

Ava is a member of the Interactive Architecture Lab, UCL, where she supervises Design for Performance & Interaction (MArch) thesis reports. She also teaches BA Architecture and Interior Architecture & Design at Canterbury School of Architecture, UCA.


Image: From the Op.12 Experimental Performance, 2018, by Ava Aghakouchak