UCL News


Art meets science in a novel prototype that will put the scents into architectural design

21 August 2002

Fancy placing a scent in a particular part of your house or office as easily as moving a table or chair.

Or how about altering the smell of a working environment so that its is more conducive to confronting tasks at special times of the day.

Manipulating scents with pinpoint precision is now possible thanks to an interesting collaboration between UCL architects and scientist who have produced a proto-type scent chamber which can model many of the innovative ways that smells are being used to define and humanise architectural spaces.

The chamber - on display on the classic portico of University College London, Gower Street, has come about through a £10,000 grant from the Wellcome Trust to develop creative relationships between artists and scientists. In this case Usman Haque and Josephine Pletts of young architecture firm Pletts Haque and Dr Luca Turin at the Department of Physiology at UCL.

Speaking today Usman Haque said: "Smells are now as much a part of the architectural armoury- just as much as light or shape. In this world of open plan offices and hot desking, for instance, the need to ensure private space but integrated working can be helped by using the precise placing of scents to create non physical boundaries and zones which can designate personal space."

Josephine Platt said: "Particular smells can create a sense of openness and freedom - like the smell of freshly cut grass, and others can produce different responses. Because we always describe smells in metaphorically, manipulating them within particular architectural settings can prompt particular mental outlooks, altering behaviour and even moderating moods."