How architecture influences the way we feel?

In topic: Architecture

Thanks to the advance of psychological studies, we have today a much better idea of the kind of influence buildings and urban environments have on our moods. The era of “neuro-architecture” is rising.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have managed to measure the physiological impact of architecture on people. One of the most astonishing findings of the research was that facades seriously affect our mood. This came up after measuring subjects’ physiological responses in situ. When a group of people with wearable devices such as bracelets that monitor skin conductance walked past a long, smoked-glass frontage of a department store their mood took a dive according to their wristband readings. They also quickened their pace. The exact opposite happened when the group walked in front of a stretch of diverse restaurants and stores. Blank, cold facades seriously damage urban conviviality.

Meditation center at Stanford University ©

Visual complexity in public spaces

Another important finding – though not so surprising – is that access to green spaces offsets some of the stress of city living. A theory in favor of that, states that generally, visual complexity in architecture acts as a kind of mental balm. Visual complexity can be an attribute of both natural and urban environments. Enriching public spaces, whether green or not, will help make city residents feel more engaged and comfortable with their surroundings. Placing benches in large squares is an excellent start to make people socialize and spend time in an otherwise indifferent space they would easily pass in a hurry.

Direction and navigation in large buildings

In the real world we are able to move from point A to point B via one route, which we can also take on our way back from point B to point A -if we wish to. Buildings that force people move in and move out in different ways are a disaster. The one-way escalators in public buildings that only move up without providing obvious means of descent, increase dramatically our anxiety levels. In such cases most people spend their time trying to figure out how to get out of the building. Navigation should be easy and obvious. People require a layout that creates better flow. This should not be an issue at any point.

More light and art

Both public spaces and homes should offer natural light and the ability to glimpse outside. The human body (and brain) needs to have access to the sun’s rays. The improve one’s mood and mental health. So does individuality too. Incorporating beauty and mindful design through artwork can create a calming environment that positively impacts our mood.

15 / 10 / 2021