Have you ever wondered how some spaces can induce feelings or develop a sense of emotion in us? Parks, movie theaters, shopping malls make us happy, energetic while on the other hand hospitals, colleges or government buildings might induce a sense of sadness, depression.
Have you ever heard of Neuroarchitecture? What if our buildings become smart environments which tweak and influence our minds to be more creative, energetic, and make us feel happy?
Designing efficient environments based not only on technical parameters of legislation, ergonomics and environmental comfort, but also on subjective indices such as emotion, happiness and well-being is called Neuro-architecture.
Architects are always aware of the fact that their designs influence the people that use them and how they experience a place. we all know that elements such as the lighting or color of a space determine the sensations that we have when we experience the design
How many times have you been to a place, whether it is a park, a housing project, a mall, a house, a building, and felt depressed and anxious, or the opposite, happy and excited?
Religious spaces emulate a sense of peace and calm and positive vibes. Gothic cathedrals, ancient religious monuments and historic temples and religious complexes all have us looking up to the heavens, be it through high ceilings or a raised steeple or mounted statue or shikhara or viharas , to aid the inspiration felt when entering the building. The physical act of looking upwards aids the brain in processing the meaning behind the action, such as ideas of heaven up above and hell down below.Lifting one’s field of vision brings with it a sense of space, comfort and contemplation.The humongous volumetrics is governed to give the sense of deity or ruler being the almighty and undefeatable entity.
Similarly, work spaces now are changing their definitions and these spaces are designed to encourage more productivity and creativity from the employees. Bright colored walls and furniture, wide open spaces and no barrier work-desks/ tables, biophilic approach to campus all add up to better health and longer productivity. There are many architectural features such as color, shapes, sizes and proportions, layouts, visual and acoustic isolation to list a few that can contribute towards designing a more effective workspace. Any design done taking into consideration who are the professionals who will occupy that space and what tasks will be executed there results in more effectiveness. Some practical examples can be presented: the use of elements that remit nature can diminish stress levels and improve concentration, sensory richness obtained due to the use of combined textures, colors, shapes and smells stimulates learning and memorization (not only memory formation but also its recall); the layout can be designed in a way to stimulate collaboration and communication between teams; the creation of alternative spaces of occupation, like meeting rooms and phone-call rooms, improves the feeling of control among employees, decreasing stress levels and creating alternatives to improve privacy and, consequently, concentration.
Winston Churchill quote “We shape our buildings therefore they shape Us”.
Neuroarchitecture has now been extended to only individual units, but also city/town planning. The architects are now designing cities and homes based on how a human brain would react to a particular setting. The aim is to provide an environment that stimulates the mind, eases your nerves and makes the environment a better place for future generations. So, moving ahead of the trends that are short-lived, with Neuroarchitecture, architects want to achieve a structure that is more about the people who will inhabit it.
Imagine how stressful it can get in urban cities that are highly populated, noisy and polluted. So what if this study could help design architecture that not only is functional but also allows the mind to connect with the environment. With many people suffering from neurological and psychological ailments, a city developed keeping in mind how a human brain would react could help achieve overall well-being. While this could help at a macro level, when implemented in individual homes the impact would be cascading.
In conclusion, An effective design should maximize freedom of behavior, mobility and flexibility. It has been shown that closeness to elements of nature like pools, plants and trees make people feel more relaxed, while a more constricted environment like office cubicles or cramped spaces limit creativity. This is where the concept of neuroarchitecture comes into the picture.
Any Space can serve different purposes to different or the same human depending on various factors, for example, a hospital can be a living space, a workspace and a personal space to different people. This can be seen as an element of challenge for neuroarchitecture in the future.
The purpose of neuroarchitecture is to empower people living in their environments.
Ar. Dhanashree Raju
Assistant Professor at Smt. K. L. Tiwari College of Architecture