Greg Whistance-Smith, M.Arch, MA, is a designer and scholar rooted in Edmonton, Canada. I’m currently an Intern Architect at AVID.
My design practice is driven by a desire to understand how spaces and objects can positively impact their inhabitants and users. I believe that design has a key role in constructing a more egalitarian society, and that good design shouldn’t be a luxury only affordable to some. The way I conceptualize and practice design has been strongly influenced by the work and writings of Alvar and Aino Aalto, Kenya Hara, and Rudolf Schindler, and by my time at Dalhousie University’s School of Architecture.
My scholarly work is concerned with the relationship between design, technology, and culture, and how built environments serve to mediate these factors. My first book, Expressive Space: Embodying Meaning in Video Game Environments explores how virtual spaces can be designed to communicate particular meanings to their players, using a set of theories from the emerging field of embodied cognition. This area includes work in cognitive science, philosophy, linguistics, and psychology (among other disciplines), and it argues that human cognition is grounded in our bodily engagement with the world. The theories and findings of embodied cognition have strong implications for architecture and design, and they also drove my earlier M.Arch research exploring how public libraries can embody and communicate cultural values to their inhabitants.
Additionally, I’ve been involved in the independent video games scene since 2007 as a hobbyist designer/developer (with mostly unfinished prototypes to show for it). The expressive potential of this new medium is immense, and it shares a number of striking and under-appreciated parallels with architecture.
I can be reached at gwhistancesmith [at] gmail [dot] com.