The Art of Designing Thresholds: Connecting Spaces and Shaping Experiences


Hatched by Shalom

Dec 18, 2023

3 min read


The Art of Designing Thresholds: Connecting Spaces and Shaping Experiences


In the world of architecture, thresholds hold immense significance. They serve as the transition points between different spaces, defining and connecting them in unique ways. Architects like Denys Lasdun have excelled in creating concrete structures that not only reveal new possibilities for social life but also establish a profound relationship with their surroundings. This article explores the concept of thresholds and how they can be effectively designed to enhance the overall architectural experience.

Defining Thresholds:

A threshold is more than just a physical element; it is a symbolic representation of the connection between spaces. It can be seen as a boundary that separates, filters, or unites different environments. By defining thresholds, architects have the power to shape how people perceive and interact with a building.

Denys Lasdun's Approach:

Denys Lasdun, known as the "king of concrete," was a visionary architect who believed in forging his own style and language. Inspired by castles, fortifications, and rock strata, Lasdun utilized concrete as his primary material. His designs aimed to create urban landscapes that seamlessly integrated with their surroundings. Lasdun's attention to detail and his focus on how people experience a building allowed him to create structures that were not only visually striking but also functional and inviting.

The Role of Experience:

Designing a threshold involves considering the entire experience of moving from one space to another. It is not just about the physical elements but also about the emotions and sensations that individuals experience. For Lasdun, the journey from Waterloo Bridge into his buildings was of utmost importance. He wanted people to connect with the river, experience iconic landmarks like St. Paul's Cathedral, and feel drawn towards the building. This attention to subtle nuances ensured that every aspect of the design was meticulously crafted to enhance the overall experience.

Incorporating Design Changes:

Lasdun's dedication to his craft extended beyond the drawing board. He was actively involved in the construction process, constantly seeking perfection. If he wasn't satisfied with the work of the carpenters, he would have them redo it until it met his standards. This commitment to excellence resulted in forced design changes that ultimately improved the final outcome.

Designing Thresholds: A Creative Process:

When it comes to designing thresholds, architects are tasked with creating spaces that bridge gaps between different environments. It requires careful consideration of the elements on either side of the threshold. Is it the transition between public and private spaces? Does it connect a vast, open volume with a small, intimate area? Or does it exist subtly through changes in materials or elevation? The possibilities are endless, and architects must harness their creativity to design thresholds that are both functional and visually appealing.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Understand the Purpose: Before designing a threshold, it is crucial to understand its purpose within the overall architectural context. Consider how it will influence people's movements, emotions, and perceptions.
  • 2. Embrace the Surroundings: Incorporating elements from the surrounding environment can enhance the experience of a threshold. Whether it's capturing iconic views or integrating natural elements, the design should harmonize with its surroundings.
  • 3. Iterate and Refine: Like Denys Lasdun, architects should be actively involved in the construction process. Regularly review and refine the design to ensure it meets the desired standards. Don't be afraid to make changes if necessary.


Thresholds play a pivotal role in architecture, connecting spaces and shaping the overall experience. Denys Lasdun's approach to designing thresholds demonstrated the importance of considering every detail and ensuring a seamless transition between different environments. By understanding the purpose, embracing the surroundings, and actively refining the design, architects can create thresholds that not only serve their functional purpose but also leave a lasting impression on those who experience them.

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