We are related to one another in the expression of our culture, experiences, context, impressions, and values. We created the society based on our understanding thus we are the community responsible for future advancement. Accordingly, it becomes meaningful for designers to observe it as an evolving metaphor composed of a single anecdote crafted through various emotions, perceptions, and values. Our mind acts as a pandora box replenished with various adventures, senses, and perceptions, and the environment creates a prominent role in sustaining such experiences as a memory. Space is never an individual entity and it is always connected to its context, environment, people, and culture. Neuroarchitecture unlocks a comprehensive understanding to experiment the psychological theories and design spaces for adequate comfort and security resulting in human-centric spaces.
Theory of spaces
Gaston Bachelard, in his book The Poetics of Space, describes the poetic image as a property of the innocent consciousness, something that precedes conscious thinking, does not require knowledge and originates from the heart and soul. The house is composed of memories and experiences, yet it evokes a unitary, intimate sense of living when its various parts evoke different sensations. Bachelard finds these experiential qualities in both poetry and prose. It is Bachelard’s belief that home objects are infused with mental energy. Space is more than an arrangement of surfaces of a given size; it is a site of contingent relations, a dynamic document of human existence, in which a multitude of layers of activity, affect, and information are concurrently operating.
“We are never merely in a space, reduced to its bare physical dimensions. Our experiences, our memories, our speculations, our imaginations are always layered atop the space because we bring them with us: we inhabit the space. “Inhabited space transcends geometrical space” (Bachelard 2014, 82).
Philosophies of self
Diverse philosophies discussed the art of understanding the self. Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Islamic philosophies of self are composed in various literature and art forms. Liberation from suffering through knowledge provides the philosophical foundation for Yoga. In salvation, the senses, the heart, and the spirit are liberated from desire, fear, and hatred. There is no way to adequately express Tao or its principles in words, thus it is referred to as ‘The Nameless”. The Taoist philosophy emphasizes authenticity, longevity, health, immortality, vitality, Wu Wei, detachment, emptiness, spontaneity, transformation, and omnipotence. Every aspect of existence is analogous to another: the Universe, the cosmos, the Earth, and mankind are composed of equal parts, forming a whole that is interconnected. A comprehensive understanding of being, knowledge, and values is the goal of Islamic philosophy, based on a love of wisdom and a quest for ultimate truth. A psychological quality influences architectural creation by interconnecting the human mind and senses through the wisdom of these philosophies. Creating the spiritual experience of space through the narrative of the structure connecting between above and below, rare and near – a sense of belonging, through a connection to the natural realm space as a whole. Generally, external influences shape a person’s inner subconscious perception of the world. Memory, childhood and aging, modifications in self-perception, dynamics of relationships, the education process, culture, and society all affect the architect and the space they create.
Considering the following concepts can result in relaxing and therapeutic experiences for users and correlating to the architectural philosophy of spaces.
Thresholds (Inner and outer world/reality)
Light and shadow (Perception, sensation)
Space and volume (Connection and relation to whole)
Scale and proportion
Approach (Inner realm and outer realm)
Connection with nature (Physical elements)
Memory (Past, present, remembrance)
Empathy and focus
The first process of perception begins with the physical nature of light. The process of vision begins with sensation within the eyes, followed by sensory perception in which things are interpreted to gain their specific meanings. There is then a process of cognition, in which more complex interpretations result from the previous one. Various interpretations can be understood such as open space indicates the wisdom and knowledge of the world. The carvings on the wall create curiosity in the user, and jaali is used to filter out natural light – perhaps a metaphor for removing suffering and darkness in order to reach the light and freedom of the open courtyard. Essentially, neuro-architecture consists of four basic principles:
- Sensation and perception: Understanding sight and smell.
- Learning and memory: Understanding movement and shapes.
- Decision making: Neuro-architecture determines decision-making principles based on objects and their storage places. Many of us experience decision fatigue as a result of our modern lifestyles. By implementing some simple changes, you can eliminate some of the micro-decisions our brains make all day long.
- New experiences: We are motivated to explore by dopamine, a chemical in our brain. A brain’s pathways are activated when it is exposed to new environments instead of the same things every day.
“The eye is the principal means by which humans appreciate the infinite works of nature”- Da Vinci
We are made of our experiences, stories, joy, and sadness, making us all unique. Understanding our neurology through various Neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and educators acts as a medium for building community engagement and creating experiences through observing, exploring, experimenting, inventing, and learning through sharing experiences. Learning is a journey of observing in detail, understanding the law of nature, and being curious about everything around us. Throughout the narrative of architecture, history, buildings, and philosophy are widely discussed. But I think the 21st century will be a paradigm shift where architecture should be focused on Humans and their experiences. And Neuroarchitecture unlocks wide opportunities which help to collaborate and understand the spaces and their relations to our minds. As part of our connection with the universe, we are reminded that everyone has a place and role on earth. It is through that knowledge that we find ‘the way.’ The architecture of space defines that path in a tangible and intangible way. It is the journey through the beautiful spaces, the feeling of traveling through them, and awareness of their scale and proportion to the human body that define the user’s experience in real-time. Being able to see the natural elements not just as elements, but as something that an explorer sees, something that is so divine represents a tale.
- Bachelard, G., Jolas, M., Danielewski, M. and Kearney, R., n.d. The poetics of space.
- CBC. 2022. Neuro-architecture: How to design a space that will help you stay sharp and stimulated | CBC Life. [online] Available at: <https://www.cbc.ca/life/thegoods/neuro-architecture-how-to-design-a-space-that-will-help-you-stay-sharp-and-stimulated-1.4624036> [Accessed 11 August 2022].
- Marquez, A. and Marquez, A., 2022. Introduction to Multi-sensory Design — Akna Marquez. [online] Akna Marquez. Available at: <http://www.aknamarquez.com/blog/2017/7/23/what-is-multi-sensory-design> [Accessed 11 August 2022].
- review, G., 2022. Gaston Bachelard – The Poetics of Space – summary and review. [online] Culturalstudiesnow.blogspot.com. Available at: <https://culturalstudiesnow.blogspot.com/2011/06/gaston-bachelard-poetics-of-space.html> [Accessed 11 August 2022].