Where were you today?
In which buildings, streets, squares, or courtyards did you wander?
We spend all of our lives indoors or outdoors. We take shelter in a shell due to the negativities of nature. Even though we live on the same earth, the time we spend indoors has increased over the centuries. How long do you stay indoors in a day? How do the place and, therefore, the spirit in it affect you? Is your energy dwindling and your creativity stifled, or do you feel refreshed and calm?
Let’s take a better check out of these questions. If the built areas around us are safe and friendly places, we can feel peaceful and healthy, if there is access to green space and large spaces, we can feel spacious. You may feel uncomfortable in narrow, closed, and noisy areas and confused in messy areas. Bad space designs negatively affect your emotions and mood.
The buildings around us affect us not only with their interiors but also with their facades. Colin Ellard researches the psychological impact of design at the University of Waterloo in Canada. One of Ellard’s most consistent findings is that people are strongly affected by building facades. If the facade is complex and interesting, it positively affects people; negatively, if it is simple and monotonous (Bond,2017). Facades are also important to our sense of place orientation because they affect our perception. “A sure-fire way to provoke feelings of anger and frustration is to design spaces that create a sense of being lost or disoriented. In the simplest of terms, people need an awareness of how the things around them relate spatially to develop a sense of direction.” (Jeffrey, 2017)
Architect’s Point of View
Architects put themselves in place of users while developing their designs. They design by considering their needs, their relations with each other, being sensitive to the user, and taking into account their life. User-friendly building designs serve to associate concepts such as perception, meaning, belonging, privacy, space, and ownership with space. They feel that they belong to the buildings they design. So they first design the spaces they feel comfortable with and want to live in. In addition to architectural analysis, they also analyze the emotions and movements of the people who will live there. If the structure produced adds positive value to human life, it is considered successful.
The Impact of the Built Environment and Culture
Human needs and habits that change over time lead to unique solutions and adaptations in each culture. Different ways of protection are produced in every location against the negative effects and dangers of nature. It is decided according to climatic factors. The climatic conditions mentioned here are not only physical but also cultural under social, moral, and economic subheadings. This physical/cultural climate is the basis of the settlements, and the environment is shaped accordingly. Societies express themselves according to their environment.
The places where we were born and raised, namely our environmental conditions, form our personality. Places reflect on our minds, and that plays a role in what kind of person you will be. This is a known fact, but especially after Covid, our exposure to the spaces and the time we spent inside the built spaces has increased much more. Paying attention not only to the present but also to the unpredictable future changes and adapting to the various needs of each society shows the importance of interaction between architecture and humans.
A subject at the center of Environmental Psychology: Feng Shui
It is a conscious design concept based on ancient Chinese architecture that deals with how things around us affect us. In China, people believe in good and bad energy, they think that the energy in our lives depends on living spaces, and they are interested in corresponding geometries in designs. They care about not only making it look good but also making it feel good. “The belief system is based on the patterns of Yin and Yang and the overall flow of energies (Qi or Chi) that present the possibility of positive and negative effects. Feng Shui commonly influences the orientation, placement, and arrangement of objects.” (Smith Brothers, 2021)
The arrangements include five basic elements – metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. By balancing these elements, harmony with nature and energy is created, and nature is respected. The movement of the water, the angle of incidence of the sunlight, the warming of our hearts, the view of the landscape, and a light wind provide a spiritual flow that we cannot see but feel. The relationship between what nature gives to people and what is built by human beings is captured. Thus, it makes you feel well-being, relaxation, auspicious and hopeful through architecture. This can be applied at a smaller scale, such as a room or the scale of a building or urban design.
Where were you today? In which buildings, streets, squares, or courtyards did you wander? How do places and the spirit in them affect you? Spaces are the main factor in our life, and architecture exists to keep people safe. Quality architecture leads to mentally healthy, comfortable, restorative, psychologically well-affected lives and quality architecture helps to establish relationships between people and their environment. Architecture creates direct and unavoidable effects on people’s lives and behavior; therefore, conscious and responsible design areas are needed.
“Bad architecture is in the end as much a failure of psychology as of design. It is an example expressed through materials of the same tendencies which in other domains will lead us to marry the wrong people, choose inappropriate jobs and book unsuccessful holidays: the tendency not to understand who we are and what will satisfy us.”
- Bond, (2017). The hidden ways that architecture affects how you feel, [online]. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20170605-the-psychology-behind-your-citys-design [Accessed 15 January 2022].
- Jeffrey, K.J.(2017). Spatial reference frames and the sense of direction. Anthologies, Conscious Cities: Bridging Neuroscience, Architecture, and Technology.
- Smith Brothers, (2021). Feng Shui & Architecture: Incorporating the Concepts, [online]. Available at: https://smithbrothersconstruction.com/feng-shui-architecture-brief-look/ [Accessed 15 January 2022].
- Botton, A. (2006). The Architecture of Happiness: Pantheon Books