Architecture is a ‘built environment’ and Psychology is an ‘individual experience of the physical environment’. Hence, architectural psychology is a study based on the interaction of people with the spaces and interrelationship between humans and their surroundings. This tool examines the effects of built-in cognitive, behavioral, tangible, intangible, and affective layers on human experiences. 

The lack of understanding and sensitivity of human, space, and environmental psychology during the due course of student life make many take swirly decisions leading to insensitive approaches. 

Following are a few books (in no particular order of preferences) related to architectural psychology from various points of view allowing every individual to question the impact of architecture and opening minds to think. 

1. Why architecture matters | Psychology in Architecture

Author – Paul Goldberger
Year – 2009

Paul Goldberger is a generous mediation on the art of architecture for architects to read. The book aims to make people understand how things feel to us when we stand in front of them, how architecture influences us emotionally and physically. ‘Why Architecture matters’ is no dictionary or guide for how to design or a historical work rather with examples of works from small Cape Cod cottage, Prairie houses of Frank Lloyd Wright. Lincoln Memorial, Guggenheim Bilbao, and the Church of Sant’Ivo is an example of simple geometries reflecting embracing complexities of imaginations.

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Why architecture matters ©

2. Psychology for Architecture | Architectural Psychologist

Author – David V.Canter
Year – 1974

Psychology for Architecture is dedicated to how people interact with space and architectural buildings around them playing an important role in human psychology. David Canter was a psychologist, careered in architectural psychologists after he published ‘Psychology for Architecture’ psychology of architecture became a stream of its own with principles. The book might be a hard read for some but the cross-referencing of philosophies of humans, environment, and building with examples to the real world enhances the understanding.

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Psychology for Architects ©

3. Color Psychology and color therapy; A factual study of the influence of color on human life

Author – Faber Birren
Year – 2016

The purpose of the book is to understand the influence of colored spaces on humans. Biological and non-biological use of elements in a space with color creating varying emotions. The author speaks of topics like color symbolism of the Americans, the Indians, the Egyptians, and the odyssey in their lifestyles. Also includes color symbolism of primary and secondary colors for healing and changing moods and emotions. The terms color and light are interchangeably used to highlight the essence of the color in the presence of light and darkness. Few real-life examples and guidelines featured to make the understanding connected to real life.  

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Color Psychology and color therapy; a factual study of the influence of color on human life ©

4. Welcome to your world: How the built environment shapes our lives.  

Author – Sarah Williams Goldhagen
Year -2017

The author draws reference from recent researches in cognitive neuroscience and psychology to demonstrate the effect of building spaces and their experiences playing a key role in wellbeing, health, and happiness in people’s lives. Goldhagen presents a curious case of societies to rethink what and how they build, in need of respecting the world’s need for healthier environments addressing human and social needs. ‘How the built shape our lives’ rightly said with the population growth there will be no end to construction growth capturing and exploiting all the natural resources. Wise and beautifully written with illustrations and photographs, an eye-opening guide for mental and physical human experience.

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Welcome to your world: How the built environment shapes our lives.

5. Art as Therapy | Psychology in Architecture

Author – Alain de Botton and John Armstrong
Year -2013

‘What can art be?’In the engaging and controversial book, authors propose a new way of looking at art which is far more than mere aesthetics and pleasure. Art a therapeutic tool for inborn weaknesses referred to as psychological frailties. Alain and John demonstrate how art can console and guide in helping us for better understanding art and ourselves by stating seven core psychological functions of art; Remembering, hope, sorrow, rebalancing, self-understanding, growth, and appreciation making believe art exists to make people better versions of themselves and healing lives. The book aims to introduce a new way to interpret art: art as a form of therapy.

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Art as Therapy ©

6. The Architecture of Happiness

Author – Alain de Botton
Year -2006

‘What is a beautiful building?’ Alain de Button writes about the happy result of architecture around us. The book tours through the philosophy and psychology of simple things in architecture contributing to changing the way we preserve homes, streets, and ourselves. The highlight of the book is not about the architectural charm of space, volume, and plan rather the emotions, moods, and experiences attached to those spaces. The beauty of each element of the space like light, shadow, chair, odor, furniture, etc. is in harmony and balance. The author wants to encourage the locals and architects to give more importance to the psychological consequences of an architectural outcome that directly affects the lives, wellbeing, and happiness of the people and not just on mere aesthetic beauty.

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The Architecture of Happiness ©

7. The Psychology of Place | Architectural Psychologist

Author – David V. Canter
Year -1977

The idea of place and space motivated the author to write this book. How people make sense of their surroundings and nature associated with an ‘imaginary picture in the head’ or an ‘urban image’. The wide range of studies related to geography, planning, culture, architecture, sociology, etc. are diverse yet share a common interest in ‘places’. The aspect of ‘place’ was further considered the desire to understand by comprehending and representation in our heads. The aim of the book provided an attempt to explain how we conceptualize places, outline methods for studying the concepts and look for directions for the applications to decision making of the outlined methods.

8. Psychology of Architectural Design

Author – Omer Akin
Year – 1989

Psychology of Architectural design by Omer Akin writes that our present knowledge of design and its process is unreliable and unscientific, based on introspection, personal opinions, and the result of transfer data from other fields. This book attempts to provide theoretical fundamental scientific evidence from cognitive psychologists and computer scientists.

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Psychology of Architectural Design ©

9. Headspace: The Psychology of city living

Author – Dr. Paul Keedwell
Year – 2017

Headspace raises questions related to the unstoppable urban growth, concerning habitats, responses to cities and towns, what are its effects on an individual? How does the urban landscape affect us? The author highlights the relevance of our home and our building, how it affects daily lives and happiness from micro to macro scale. Surveys and studies put forth many studies about buildings affecting our behaviors, moods, and feeling’, headspace understandably presents these scientific studies. Various projects by renowned architects with the literature of psychology are explained throughout the book.

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Headspace: The Psychology of city living ©

10. Handbook of environmental psychology | Psychology in Architecture

Author – Robert B. Bechtel and Arza Churchman
Year -2003

The book features research, concepts, and conclusions by a team of leading international scholars and practitioners critical to environment and psychology. The handbook is divided into five organized sections with theories, disciplines, methods, applications, and future subheads on various aspects related to environment and psychology interacting with attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

Handbook of environmental psychology ©

RuchiKumbhani is currently a final year B. Arch student at PVP College of Architecture, Pune. She is a curious mind & travel enthusiast. With few days of intense binge indoors to days of cycling outdoor, she loves to observeinterrelationship of different settings/spaces and penning her thoughts over it.