Every person experiences the spaces around them in a unique way. That is the power of the environment around us. Architecture has been a beautiful amalgamation of art, technology with psychology, and human behavior. It is more of how we decode the spaces in which we exist. One of my professors once stated- “We design for the end users of a certain space. We must keep in mind the effect the built-unbuilt environment will have over the mind and state of the people who will eventually use the space”. The very basics of design elements like colors, volume, textures, and light have a direct neurological impact-resulting in what is known as the ‘quality of the space’. Our minds along with physical bodies experience the space that we are surrounded by. Why does one want to rush to their home after having a hard day at work? Why do people prefer visiting sacred spaces to feel peaceful? Why do humans tend to form an emotional bond with their childhood home or their favorite spot on the college campus? It is because the space contributes to your emotional experiences and has a lasting impact on your thoughts.
Free or trapped?
‘Emotions of a space’
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” -Winston Churchill
The spatial energy of a space is experienced and interpreted by individuals on a personal level. The materials used in construction or the color combination play an integral role in shaping the thought patterns of an individual. Thus architecture is more of contributing to a person’s experience. Hospitals usually have integrated landscapes and interiors with natural light and soothing colors. This contributes to recovery and subconsciously impacts the well-being of the patients. Architecture is not always a loud way of expression but a way of living. We might find it challenging to explain the emotions of space to someone because some things are better experienced. More and more people have now understood the importance of being surrounded by good quality spaces.
Our daily spaces largely contribute to our cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, and physical well-being. Well-lit and ventilated areas having a good balance with nature would make the inhabitants of the space feel positive thus affecting their energy and productivity. Dark, dull spaces have been proven to have ill effects on humans without underlying medical reasons. This is because the mind is so powerful that it can translate emotions directly into our physical reality. The sick building syndrome is one example of poorly designed spaces or buildings that negatively impact the masses.
Evolution is inevitable, and with it comes the advancement of technology resulting in various trends that we witness today. Due to these fast-growing trends -the psychological impact of architecture is often overlooked. With the concrete jungles populating the major cities today, we can see the impact it has on the quality of life of humans. The 21st century has witnessed an alarming rise in cases of depression, anxiety, suicide, and other mental, and physical issues. The contribution of the spatial quality of architecture today to these issues cannot be sidelined. Architects strive to balance the need for quality spaces and the never-ending(sometimes unrealistic) expectations. It is crucial that professionals from all the allied fields also realize the degree of responsibility we all bear in the future. The urban fabric today depicts a horrifying situation with crowded, unsustainable structures, and poor choices of materials that have disturbed the emotional link between the mind and spatial experience. This has an impact on the health and well beings o the inhabitants- who tend to have psychological disruptions along with a poor lifestyle. People travel to the suburbs, or a nature retreat to rejuvenate and feel alive. Architecture is an ongoing experience and not a short-term stimulus. Architecture in itself is a medium through which humans can heal, rejuvenate and co-exist with nature. Mindfully designed structures with a perfect balance of natural elements tend to have a phenomenal positive impression on the mind.
“Architecture is the very mirror of life. You only have to cast your eyes on buildings to feel the presence of the past, the spirit of a place; they are the reflection of society.” –I. M. Pei
While many architects are working towards designing quality spaces with cognizance of modern-day needs, architectural impact on the mind must not be taken for granted. It is a matter of great responsibility to have the power to bring real change to the present and future of humankind. And architects are an integral part of this responsibility. The need for shelter has been one of the most basic requirements of humans. But as we progress it is also important to understand the contribution of architecture to the holistic growth of an individual.
Architecture is for the people- for them to complete it and give it meaning. It is a silent expression that adds value to your daily experiences. A space responds to our needs if it is designed with a mindful approach. For years architecture has been an integral part that contributes to the social, cultural, and political scenario of that place. The beauty of architecture is visually perceived and emotionally processed. It is interesting to observe people enjoying the architecture, as it is the sole intent of the space. Every place we visit has an impact on our minds which eventually contributes to shaping us as better people. This is the power of space- to add value to the growth and development of humans on a deeper level.