by Gillian Holl
There is a reason why some buildings and interiors make us feel at ease and happy while others affect our mood negatively. It is because there is a part of the human brain that picks up on geometry and how spaces are organised. This, of course, happens unconsciously and that is why we instinctively feel comfortable or uncomfortable in a space. Humans also intuitively have an emotional connection to spaces based on memories, what their senses pick up from the environment etc.
Together, all of these “feelings” have created an architectural discipline that is reshaping the way architects are thinking about design. This discipline is called Neuro-Architecture.
Neuro-Architecture examines the brain’s responses to the built environment, and helps architects design buildings that will have a more positive effect on our mood and senses, and ultimately our wellbeing.
In Neuro-Architecture, technologies such as Virtual Reality and sensors, and science come together to measure a person’s heart rate, body temperature, brain waves, eye movement and “arousal”.
This way architects can build spaces that contribute to the health of their clients on a deeper, more complex level.
“Buildings of the future will be shaped by you”
In his talk entitled “Buildings of the future will be shaped by you”, American architect Marc Kushner says: “Architecture is not about math, and it’s not about zoning, it is about those visceral, emotional connections that we feel to the places that we occupy.”
Consider for a moment: How much time you spend in and around built environments? At home, the office, shops and schools… Studies have determined that the average human spends around 90% of their time surrounded by buildings.
“We want to live and work in houses, offices and urban areas that are efficiently designed to elevate our mental health towards a happier and more pleasant lifestyle,” says Dr Amirhosein Ghaffarianhoseini, a leading researcher at Auckland University of Technology (AUT).
The built environment has the power to reduce stress and anxiety. And therefore the question architects should be asking isn’t whether or not we should build with humans’ mental state in mind, but rather why on earth we wouldn’t?
What do humans want…
There is no one answer to this as preferences are dependent on many things including age, gender, personality, cultural background etc. What is even more interesting is that our feelings towards exteriors and interiors can change over time.
However, in its most basic, primal form, when it comes to choosing a home, humans are looking for circumstances favourable to their survival. A place of refuge with the ability to observe their surroundings, located nearby resources (food…water…nature…).
Other common findings…
So far, studies in Neuro-Architecture have made some other interesting discoveries, namely:
- Views of nature have the ability to help humans recharge, disconnect and heal on psychological and physiological levels.
- Humans are more attracted to symmetric, textured and interesting building facades.
- Curvature in buildings is also more favoured whereas pointy, sharp edges create stress.
- Square rooms trigger anxiety and feelings of being enclosed.
- The use of the colour green reduces heart rates and relieves stress.
- The colour red creates positive mental awareness and cognitive stimulation.
- Natural light (bright morning and soft warm afternoon light) triggers various positive feelings whereas artificial blue light has the opposite effect.
At Veld Architecture we get excited by innovations like Neuro-Architecture because we are inspired by two things: you and nature.
We are committed to designing “healthy homes” that delight occupants and instil happiness and wonder.
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