The first thing I do when entering a house is to look out the window. Every time I had to look for a place to live, clarity and the ability to see outside have been my top priority.
I’ve always thought that the instinctive annoyance response to dark dwellings was just a whim. Until i reada neuroarquitectura, a discipline that studies how architectural spaces affect our mental processes
It is an interdisciplinary field. neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, architecture and urbanism Trying to apply what they learn in the design and construction of spaces that increase our quality of life, not limited to findings.
“These neural responses can directly change the mood and behavior of users in any field, both in the short and long term,” wrote architect Audrey Migliani at ArchDailyer.
Neuroscientists and architects work as a team and all design decisions are made according to the brain functions of the residents of the buildings, from the layout to the color of the walls.
The challenge for experts is to understand why certain areas stimulate or inhibit certain moods of the user in order for the design to fulfill the stated goal. These goals can vary widely.
A person with agoraphobia will feel safer if they have great privacy in their home and physical boundaries such as walls. However, the decision to build a wall will not be an assumption, it will be made after evaluating the brain responses of that phobic person to similar areas.
Well-being in times of crisis
The pandemic has taught us great truths. And one of them is that the space around us affects mental health. Several studies have shown that teleworking and mobility restrictions are most pressing in confined spaces, far from nature. And this need not be said by experts, we feel it on our skin.
So it’s not surprising that cases of anxiety and depression are skyrocketing in big cities like Mexico City, where 21.45 million people live.
I did not feel burdened during heavy prison sentences, but the health crisis increased my need to feel comfortable at home. Not only because I spend 90% of my time working from home under one roof, but also because it is a must, not a choice.
Living in a corner and in an apartment with large windows makes me feel protected and at the same time connected with my community. And this factor, which is very important to me, makes me overlook many aspects of the design and layout of my home, which would definitely be different if it had been designed for me.
That’s why people who can afford to hire an architectural firm to design their homes are betting on neuro architecture. It uses advances in neuroscience and modern architecture to create environments that support well-being.
And it’s a trend that is taking shape. The newspaper El País reported that Spain has at least 35 neuro-architectural projects completed or under construction between the Costa del Sol and Madrid.
These are huge houses where space is not a limitation to make their owners feel comfortable.
Footballers are part of the elite who can invest in a home of up to 3,000 square meters, designed to match their neuronal reactions. The lucky ones include former Betis player Arturo García Muñoz (Desire), Liverpool goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel and FC Cartagena defender Raúl Navas.
Decipher the emotion
There cannot be two identical projects in neuro architecture because no two people are the same. Architects understand that each user receives and resolves the stimuli of the environment in a unique way. So they don’t follow the rules, but they do observe some general aspects.
One of them is that people need a sense of belonging to feel grounded.
Neuro architecture reexamined the attachment theories of the American psychologist Abraham Maslow, who argued that we should all feel part of a social group. By bringing this concept to design, neuroarcities suggest that all people should feel part of a physical space.
If good memories are positively resolved by our brains, it is important to include elements that can evoke those memories in the design. smell, visual or auditory, so users really feel at home.
Temperature, color, light intensity, pavement design and natural scents are subtle factors that affect people’s emotional state and their relationships with the environment.
How do they do it?
Architects and scientists should know well the future owners of the house to be designed. Interviews about their tastes, childhood memories, favorite scents and colors, acoustic, tactile and olfactory preferences provide important information.
Then comes the collection of difficult and pure data. We’re talking about organic responses recorded by technology, for example facial recognition techniques, electroencephalograms, and galvanic skin responses (GSR) Measuring changes in the electrical properties of the dermis caused by different factors such as sweating.
Activity bracelets have helped in this regard, although they are widely used physiological recording devices. cognitive-emotional discovery process because the person can stay connected while traveling in different areas.
In an interview with La Vanguardia, a neuroscience consultant for ARK Architects, Antonio Ruiz explained some of the general reactions most of us have to certain environments, although not infallible.
Large fields and natural light increase the activation of alpha waves in our brains, these are those that are activated when we do not have complex thoughts and when we are relaxed, calm and clear.
Another feature of natural light is that it activates the biological clock and regulates circadian wakefulness and sleep cycles. The type of light and the direction of artificial light can also alter the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.
Proper design of types and light sources is essential to ensure a good night’s sleep in a room.
Ruiz explained that direct contact with nature is linked to better working memory levels and greater concentration.
Another element that cannot be ignored is temperature, and for this it is important to know whether the user is a person sensitive to cold or heat. In any case, healthy areas should have a comfortable temperature and no major changes should be made to prevent the amygdala in the brain from being stimulated in a way that could alter the immune system.
My ideal home in an ideal world
And since it costs nothing to dream, a house designed for me will have inner courtyards that allow natural light and ventilation in all rooms of the house. I would also have jasmine-like pots or flowers next to the windows to smell naturally, and even in the midst of a European snowfall, I would use underfloor heating to feel in my native Caribbean.
Ideally, more and more companies and institutions are using neuro architecture to design more pleasant and healthy homes and workplaces.
One of the pioneers in incorporating these principles was Google more than a decade ago, discarding individual offices and creating open spaces to create greater transparency from visual perception to their processes.
Neuro architecture is just beginning and its applications are endless.
I imagine the future will be filled with smart buildings that encourage children’s creativity and learning, and hospitals where patients recover faster in cold, impersonal rooms where they can feel embraced and unafraid.
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