Conflicting recommendations around sensory issues

Conflicting recommendations around sensory issues

The demands posed by different sensory issues may be contradictory. Most of those conflicts are rather obvious, so we’ll discuss just a few examples.

Roughly finished walls absorb sounds better, so they are to be preferred  from the point of view of noise reduction. (Among others recommendation 76, Muted reverberation at school.)
On the other hand smooth, touchable walls are recommended for those who like to use their sense of touch, going with their hands along walls, to orient themselves in space. Moreover, smooth walls create less injuries or pain when one falls or bumps against them (motor awkwardness).
Depending on the type of users, one will choose smooth or rough walls.

Measures against smells and noise often conflict with one another. On the one hand ventilation is by far the most important remedy against smells; on the other hand, air systems are a prominent source of noise. The latter is particularly well-documented in schools. Because both smells and noise are nearly insurmountable problems, hardly any other solution is available than installing much more costly, higher-maintenance, silent ventilation systems.

Natural light is generally advised as it is healthier and more quiet than artificial light. Windows which let in this light, however, can invite distraction where there is an outside view. Furthermore, direct sunlight is also discommended. These circumstances should be taken into account in placing windows and filtering both the view and the light.

Of course recommendations which have little to do with the senses may – or seem to be – contradictory too. An example is the general advice to keep rooms uncluttered and to store most stuff behind cupboard doors. Some people however tend to forget things which are out of sight. When the last banana is gone, the concept of ‘banana’ may (temporarily) vanish too. This is an instance of a visualization by the object itself. (See Landships example in visualizations.)

(Conflicting recommendations should not be confused with dilemmas in their application.)