When people hear architecture, one thought comes to mind – “shelter”, and rightfully so. However, it goes way beyond that, and subconsciously holds such a profound influence on our lives. It is the one art form combined with a social conscience that has the power to last decades and centuries, evoke certain emotions and feelings, and create a long-lasting emotional impact that gives the opportunity to dream, inspire, and lift people’s spirits. Have you ever questioned the depth of space? How do our built surroundings and the areas we visit and inhabit every day make us feel? Or how it inadvertently directs the way we lead our lives?
Architecture and its impact on the mind
Roger Ulrich, a social science researcher, conducted a hospital study between 1972 and 1982, investigating the effect of a view from windows on patients recovering from the same type of surgery. The hospital had two rooms on either side of the corridor; one side had windows overlooking a beautiful courtyard and trees, and the other was facing a brick wall. His studies showed that the patients recovering from the same surgery who were in the rooms facing trees required less pain medication and had shorter hospital stays than those whose rooms were facing a brick wall. Although doctors unconsciously placed the patients in that manner, it made all the difference.
We can all agree that all beings are the foundation of every aspect of life. Entertainment exists for the sole purpose of entertaining people, art is created and displayed for people to observe, reflect and ponder on the deeper meaning behind it. Architecture subsequently follows that sequence, it’s part of the built environment and cannot be thought of as independent, if anything, it is interconnected with all that is existing; human behavior, human senses, human perceptions, human memories, and the humans’ psyche. Architectural design determines whether we are happy or dull, whether we are productive or lazy, how we learn in schools, how we can focus or be more creative at work, how we heal in health care settings, every little detail, and the relation to all the pieces of design has the potential to create who we are, impact our being and define us. It is an extension of ourselves in our bodies and minds.
Moods and feeling in symbiosis with spaces
This beautiful creation that stands tall and cradles thousands of lives, careers, and businesses has the force to impact change, and have a huge effect on everyone. On a day-to-day basis, we go through an experience, we move from one space into another, spaces that give a sense of protection, love, belonging, acceptance, refuge, togetherness, spaces that trigger people to feel better. It’s a vessel in which we live our lives, if it promotes goodness, it can have a ripple effect of that and if it doesn’t then it can be detrimental.
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”- Winston Churchill
Prisons for instance are institutions for punishment, but does that mean they should be designed with so much darkness? In the past, they were designed without a humane approach but there has recently been a shift. One example is the Storstrøm Prison in Denmark, whose aim was to design a space that contributed to the inmate’s social rehabilitation and improve the transition into reintegrating back better into society. The design alone can impact the course, mindset, and mental state in which the inmates will lead their lives once their penance is paid.
All components of spaces in architecture, such as greenery and plants, the right amount of lighting, materials, furniture, colors used, avoiding dead areas, and the adjusted temperatures, will transfer a feeling onto us users. A sense that puts us in either a relaxed mental state of mind or an uncomfortable one. If we are relaxed, the sky’s the limit, and if we aren’t, we feel stressed, our body tenses up, which in turn can lead to depression. One thing is sure, it affects our mental state of mind.
The intention behind spaces designed impacts our mood and attitudes; it won’t change our personalities and may not completely change our moods, but it is a contributor and the one thing that can tip the scale to one side or the other. Our interactions with one another, our bonding, or lack of is all relative to architecture and the surrounding environment, which in the end, results in creating long-lasting memories that will forever be intertwined with the moments we shared.
Architecture matters, it contains the power to make people grow into their very best selves.
“The more we can make special moments, the better life is” – Jim Olson.
- Adrian Welch, A., 2020. Architecture and its effect on human behavior and psychology. [online] E-architect.com. Available at: <https://www.e-architect.com/articles/architecture-and-its-effect-on-human-behavior-and-psychology> [Accessed 18 March 2022].
- Goldberger, P. (2009). Why Architecture Matters. New haven and London: Yale University Press publication.
- Ulrich, R., 1992. How design impacts wellness. [ebook] Pubmed. Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/13177406_How_Design_Impacts_Wellness/link/54b3afd80cf26833efcea0e3/download> [Accessed 18 March 2022].
- Bond, M., 2022. The hidden ways that architecture affects how you feel. [online] Bbc.com. Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20170605-the-psychology-behind-your-citys-design> [Accessed 18 March 2022].
- urbanNext |. n.d. Storstrøm Prison: a Modern, Human, High-security Prison that Uses Architecture to Promote Prisoners’ Social Rehabilitation | urbanNext. [online] Available at: <https://urbannext.net/storstrom-prison/> [Accessed 18 March 2022].
- Youtube.com. 2011. Jim Olson: Why Architecture Matters. [online] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGsQqw0KfjI&list=PLuJj3iQpiK3sRolYXo6o-BxXDFgCHFrjM&index=2> [Accessed 18 March 2022].
- Architecturever. 2020. Psychology of Architecture and its effects on humans | Architecturever. [online] Available at: <https://architecturever.com/2020/09/25/psychology-of-architecture-and-its-effects-on-humans/> [Accessed 18 March 2022].