Synesthetic Research & Design Lab

Cultivating a Collective Learning Process

The Synesthetic Research and Design Lab, (SR&DL), directed by Severino Alfonso and Loukia Tsafoulia within the College of Architecture & Built Environment, is a research-design platform that develops practical and theoretical methodologies that critically frame the interactions between humans, objects, and environments. In meshing scientific expertise with creative praxis, immersive technology, industry, and the lived experience of the community, the projects developed at the SR&DL explore interaction and immersion as a valuable creative praxis in softening established disciplinary borders.

The SR&DL develops research-driven interactive and experiential installations and experimental prototypes as a way to transgress the art, health, and design fields’ boundaries. The lab investigates design systems that provide a layered understanding of embodied spaces —affective and performative— through the experimental meshing of the physical and digital realms. The projects developed at the SR&DL are rooted in theories of embodied cognition and explore dynamic, interactive environments that support neurodivergence. They offer a resource for the future of elastic and inclusive environments as they address accessibility through interaction with technology and sensory reciprocity. 

The SR&DLab collaborates with the Jefferson Health Center for Autism and Neurodiversity, the Occupational Therapy and Neurology Departments at Thomas Jefferson University, and the University College Dublin Inclusive Design Research Centre of Ireland in partnership with SMARTLab teams in Dublin and Cahersiveen, Ireland, and Niagara Falls, Canada. It also partners with self-advocacy communities and industry experts to build collective knowledge that addresses all-inclusive ways of perceptually experiencing our spaces. Through symposia, publications, and applied research, these collaborations stimulate international dialogue amongst artists, planners, designers, therapists, medical field experts, tech companies, educational institutions, advocates, neurodivergent individuals, and their caregivers.

The R&DLab continuously aims to learn from unexpected collaborations, test unconventional ideas, and leverage novel pedagogical explorations to engage young minds from diverse backgrounds.

Past Symposiums