Throughout history, architecture has been a representation of our society and way of living. Humans have evolved from living in naturally formed shelters to living in constructed environments. As social animals, this constructed environment that humans reside in plays an important role in the behaviour of humans and, in a way, manipulates the way we humans behave in different spaces as an individual and as a community. Architecture has also been an identity of cultures and religions where humans have created spaces for communities and societies which have been part of the social fabric of a town or city. Spaces affect and shape our ability to live, work and create communities. Moreover, these spaces determine whether we are happy in the environment or whether we are simply working around the limitations of the spaces.
As most of the urban population resides in similar home environments, there is a loss of connection with various aspects like a sense of community and belonging in society, culture, and nature. With well-designed urban spaces, these connections could be brought back to life and give rise to better, happier populations. Well-designed architectural spaces will allow us to innovate, play, work and create a community. Architects with the power of designing cohesive and happy spaces can impact the overall growth of an individual, the community, and eventually the nation.
Psychology of Spaces
According to Dave Alan Kopec, the psychology of spaces is “the study of human relations and behaviours within the context of the built and natural environments.” The surrounding environment and spaces have the power to create or influence the mood of a person. The feeling of comfort and stability in space is generated by the presence of nature, calming colours, textures or patterns, and the appropriate amount of light for the space. This feeling will eventually have an impact on the behaviour and actions of us humans in space. Concepts like ‘biophilia’ state that humans tend to seek connections with nature and other life forms, which play an important role in the improvement of mental health and developing feelings of calmness and comfort. Humans have an innate connection with nature. The tendency to escape the concrete, unexpressive jungles of urban development and move towards serene landscapes full of fresh air and ecological bliss proves this connection.
This concept of biophilia has been actively researched and applied at a variety of healthcare centres and hospitals. The design goals of any modern hospital are mostly to ensure proper capacity and along with functional requirements of clinical and surgical procedures. Yet, the main goal of any hospital or healthcare centre is to help in faster recovery in the health of a patient. Interventions that focus on providing connections with nature or inserting greens around the hospital spaces have a positive impact on the physical and psychological well-being of the patient, leading to faster recovery. Along with the well-being of patients, such interventions have a resounding impact on the staff and the families of patients.
Whether it was the Hindu temples built by the Hoysala empire back in the 13th century or the Classical architecture of the public buildings by the Greek civilization, the architecture of each civilization or community has always been influenced by the traditions or cultures of those civilizations. The Greek tradition of having public debates or speeches led to vast architectural spaces like amphitheatres and stadiums. This influence of culture and traditions on architecture leads eventually to an architectural identity of that civilization or community. With diminishing cultural practices and homogenous lifestyles in modern times, there is a loss of unique identity globally. As the focus shifted completely to the functionality of a space, the values of traditions and cultural practices stopped getting reflected in these architectural spaces.
The Wadas of Maharashtra has been the architectural identity of the Peshwa era, which truly reflected the lifestyle of the community and the people residing in the wadas. The spaces responded to the function, climate, traditions as well as artistic practices of that era. The courtyards were a result of both traditions and the climate of the region. Courtyards provided spaces for public gatherings as well as moderated the harsh Indian weather, providing light and ventilation across all rooms. As wadas turned to storeyed units of dwelling and further towards apartments, homogenous units of dwellings led to the loss of culture and, eventually, the architectural identity of a region.
Architecture in collaboration with Culture and Nature
With the world facing issues of climate change and mental well-being, it has become imperative to build and design spaces keeping in mind the impact construction activities will have on the surrounding environment and, eventually, on remaining living species and, lastly, humans. Building in collaboration with nature and creating spaces for community and nature interaction is said to have a profound impact on the lives of humans and their well-being. The use of natural and eco-friendly materials keeping in mind the sustainability factor, as well as being surrounded by greens, leads to better health of the environment and our species. Striving for better relationships between architectural spaces and the surroundings is the new challenge among architects and designers.
- Christele Harrouk (2020).Psychology of Space: How Interiors Impact our Behavior? [Online].
Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/936027/psychology-of-space-how-interiors-impact-our-behavior#:~:text=Environmental%20psychology%20or%20Space%20psychology,spectrum%20of%20feelings%20and%20practices.
- Simona Totaforti (2018). Applying the benefits of biophilic theory to hospital design [Online]
Available at : https://cityterritoryarchitecture.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40410-018-0077-5#:~:text=Modifying%20hospitals’%20design%20by%20humanising,on%20the%20different%20levels%20of
- TED: TED Talk: The Impact of Architecture | Donald Schmitt | TEDxUTSC
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVsCHMj5_Bo
- Sheida Ettehad (2014). The Role of Culture in Promoting Architectural Identity
Available at: https://european-science.com/eojnss_proc/article/view/4181