Have you ever stepped into a building, a room, or a school and suddenly felt a certain way? Your senses seemed more in tune with that environment, even if you couldn’t put your finger on it. You felt more relaxed, productive, and in a better mood. If this sounds familiar, you may have been exposed to neuro-architecture without even realizing it.
Simply defined, neuro-architecture is an interdisciplinary field that integrates modern architectural design and neuroscience to create a sensory experience within an architectural space. There is science behind the brain’s reactions to design, particularly in the ways both body and brain respond to the built environment. Neuro-architecture is more about people and building spaces that encourage happiness, well-being, and productivity than traditional architecture.
How Does It Work?
In a study based in Spain, the Society for Neuroscience had participants lie in an MRI machine while looking at 200 images of interiors of differing characteristics. According to the researchers, participants preferred environments with high ceilings, rounded shapes, and windows or other openings. When participants found these environments beautiful, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex—part of the brain’s reward system—was activated.
The History of Neuro-Architecture
While the discipline of neuro-architecture dates back to the 1950s, anyone can equally state that it has existed since the dawn of time. Even if the name didn’t exist, the goal remained the same. As a means of survival, primitive humans tended to choose particular habitats in which to live. With that in mind, the current hypothesis holds true: people have always psychologically reacted to spaces, as evidenced by the habitat selection of the environment that made early humans feel safer.
Why Is Neuro-Architecture Important?
Neuro-architecture makes us feel comfortable, safe, productive, and a slew of other feel-good emotions—and optimizes our environment.
And doesn’t every person want that?
But let’s take things a bit further. Consider nature and its role in helping us to cope with psycho-physiological stress. According to The Role of Nature in Coping with Psycho-Physiological Stress: A Literature Review on Restorativeness, exposure to nature lessens the adverse effects of stress by increasing good emotions while decreasing the negative.
This specialization creates spaces that people want to hang out in. Neuro-architecture can enrich anything from healthcare environments to school settings—all areas, including cities. This is critical for increased learning, productivity, mental health, and overall human health and experience.
Examples of Neuro-Architecture
Much attention is paid to the structure itself, but neuro-architecture extends to interiors too. Maybe you’re wondering how you can incorporate this into your home, home office and office furniture, workplace setting, or any situation in which people want to feel better about (and in) their surroundings.
Your personality will, to some extent, dictate your preferences. The design will not provide a blanketed positive emotion in all humans, as our tastes are different. However, there are many techniques that increase overall happiness, wellness, and experience within a space.
Break up the squares and harsh edges
When implementing neuro-architecture into the design, look around your space to discover how many objects have straight lines. Rectangular sofas, coffee tables, office furniture, artwork, and other squared elements are likely to be found in abundance in your rooms or areas, adding to the already straight lines of the architecture.
Long, straight lines are broken up and softened by adding round elements. Choose spherical shaped objects in the space to break up the hard lines, such as:
- Accent pillows
- Cabinet knobs
- Coffee tables
- End tables
- Light fixtures
- Office chairs
- Plants or planters
Bring in the green
Nature, without a doubt, has the ability to heal and create tranquillity. Whether it’s windows that feature a view of outside vegetation or indoor greenery, the impact will undoubtedly outperform a space without it.
If plants are not an option, there are plenty of ways to welcome green into your space. Artwork depicting natural settings, landscapes, or plants are great substitutes. Furthermore, whether at home or in the office, painting a wall in a natural shade of green will be a soothing touch that will benefit individuals who enter and interact within that environment. The colour trends for 2022 are overwhelmingly green. Green is a relaxing colour that anyone can use in various ways, including painting a room or updating home or office furniture.
Let in the light
Harsh, artificial lighting can create eye strain, headaches, and overall tension even in a space that’s otherwise welcoming. People are happier in rooms with windows and natural light than in poorly lit spaces. If you don’t have windows, glass and mirrors can help bounce light and create an illusion of a larger space.
Personal taste may also influence which light colour is most appealing. While most people will always prefer natural light, coloured bulbs and light strips are also popular. Blue, pink, green, red, orange, and soft white are all popular colours that can change the mood of a room with the flick of a switch.
Make it make sense
It wouldn’t be neuro-architecture if living or working in the area caused negative emotions and frustration. If your home’s organization is causing you stress, now is the time to make adjustments. Do you serve and eat meals at the kitchen island, only to walk across the kitchen for a plate and then to the opposite side for silverware? You can store plates, bowls, silverware, napkins, and other meal-related items in the drawers and cabinets of the kitchen island. Make your space work for you and your routine so it’s as pleasant and efficient as possible.
Refresh your workspace and office furniture
If you’ve been working in the same environment for a long time, you might need a refresh to feel better about it. For example, you can reconfigure office furniture into various settings or rearrange your desk to improve the atmosphere. Most importantly, invest in a quality office chair that prioritizes ergonomics and comfort.
Many people are working from home, and if you’ve been doing so from the dining room table, you’re probably not happy with the setup and have been using a chair built for mealtimes instead of proper office chairs. In addition, looking at the table may now imply business rather than meals and gatherings. Consider this an opportunity to make this space function for you while positively impacting your health.
Neuro-Architecture Creates Harmonic Spaces
Many buildings start with cost or size in mind. For example, office buildings with square-footage requirements may dictate what stays and what goes. Alternatively, cookie-cutter structures are designed to replicate each other due to time constraints and necessity. Conversely, neuro-architecture considers how people feel in a given setting before constructing a building around what makes them happy and healthy. Although we’re still far from building entire cerebral cities based on neuro-architecture, we’re moving in the right direction.