Scents of Space

An interactive smell system that allows for three-dimensional placement of fragrances without dispersion (funded by a Wellcome Trust Sciart Award). (With J Pletts and Dr L Turin).

The study of the human olfactory system has progressed rapidly in recent years. However, when architects use fragrance in spatial designs, they tend to do so merely for branding purposes or for suggestive advertising (e.g. pumping the smell of coffee out onto a street to attract people into a store). Such designs fail to pick up on the potentials for developing evocative and memorable experiences using the sense of smell. This project demonstrates how smell can be used spatially to create fragrance collages that form soft zones and boundaries that are configurable on-the-fly.

Airflow within the space is generated by an array of fans. Moving air is then controlled by a series of diffusion screens to provide smooth and continuous laminar airflow. Computer-controlled fragrance dispensers and careful air control enable parts of the space to be selectively scented without dispersing through the entire space.

Vent-Axia generously supplied fans and control equipment for the Pavilion. Oxford Chemicals and International Flavours and Fragrances supplied smell sources. Max Fordham provided design advice for air movement and control.

Video documentation, Quicktime: 24.2 Mb file

November 2013: Please note that Haque Design + Research is now Umbrellium, where more up-to-date information can be found Umbrellium