The World Health Organization estimates that we spend over 90% of our lives indoors, a fact gaining even more significance in the current landscape. The COVID-19 pandemic not only compelled us to rethink our relationship with daily environments but also underscored the importance of designing spaces that are not only functional but also prioritize our mental and emotional well-being. In this setting, neuroarchitecture, a discipline at the intersection of architecture and neuroscience, emerges as an innovative approach to buildings design and our surroundings.
For those eager to delve into neuroarchitecture, its application in architecture and the design of new buildings, and how it transforms our conception and experience of the built environment, read on. In this article from Ekohunters, we delve into what neuroarchitecture is and offer some everyday examples of its application in spaces design.
The Story Behind Neuroarchitecture: Laying the Foundations
While neuroarchitecture cannot be attributed to a specific individual or a concrete point of origin, throughout history, there have been research and contributions that laid its foundations. A precedent is the case of virologist Jonas Salk and his journey to invent the polio vaccine. But how did neuroarchitecture affect this scientific breakthrough that marked a before and after for humanity?
In the 1950s, Jonas Salk embarked on a crucial quest: to find a vaccine for poliomyelitis. After years of exhaustive research in his dimly lit, small laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh, Salk faced a mental block. He decided to take a break and, in an unexpected turn towards inspiration, retreated to the Monastery of San Francisco de Asís in Italy, a spacious Romanesque complex. In this spiritual environment, Salk immersed himself in deep reflection that led him to the key for his research, developing the first polio vaccine.
Salk’s experience in the monastery led him to the conclusion that the work environment plays a crucial role in human’s creativity and the development of new ideas. Convinced of the influence of architecture on creative thinking, Salk partnered with renowned architect Louis Kahn to materialize his vision. Together, they conceived and built the Salk Institute in San Diego, California, in 1965. This iconic space was designed comprehensively, considering the functioning of the human brain and emotions, taking the first steps towards neuroarchitecture.
The Salk Institute stands as a historic space in neuroarchitecture, with its open interior spaces, high ceilings, and a central square overlooking the sea. The rose-tinted pozzolanic concrete building reflects symmetry and harmony, seeking to encourage the creativity and productivity of scientists.
Designing for the Post-Pandemic Era: Neuroarchitecture in the New Normal
A few years and a pandemic later, we currently find ourselves at a crucial point in the history of neuroarchitecture. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a radical transformation in how we perceive and experience our daily space. This shift has catapulted neuroarchitecture to the forefront of design, making it an essential tool to address the new demands of our post-pandemic society.
From spaces designed with cross-ventilation and natural light to homes designed to integrate work areas and environments that alleviate stress, neuroarchitecture adapts to the changing needs of our society. The pandemic not only underscores the importance of considering mental health and emotions in the design of the spaces we inhabit but also accelerates the adoption of neuroscience-based approaches to create spaces that nurture and strengthen the human brain.
From Knowledge to Practical Application: Emblematic Examples of Neuroarchitecture
Exploring specific examples of projects that have successfully integrated neuroarchitecture principles allows us to visualize its real impact. Some close examples from the field of neuroarchitecture are those mentioned above, however, there are much more common examples with which we interact pre and post-pandemic outside the home.
Studies show that a beautiful view of nature and natural light entering a hospital room painted in a specific color range can accelerate a patient’s recovery. It has also been documented that high-ceiling architecture and pastel colors in a school environment maximize concentration. And as a final everyday example of neuroarchitectural design, custom-designed workspaces in offices by their occupants generate more creative and focused employees.
These practical applications demonstrate how neuroarchitecture is not just theory but a valuable tool that can transform human’s everyday experience in various environments.
In conclusion, neuroarchitecture emerges as a significant response to the need to design spaces that reflect a deep understanding of how architecture affects our brains. The pandemic has intensified the conversation around the importance of the architecture of our daily environments and has accelerated the adoption of neuroarchitecture as a practical approach to improving the quality of human life. By integrating science into architecture and design, this discipline redefines how we conceive and inhabit our spaces, offering a path to environments that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also essential allies for the mental and emotional health of contemporary society.