Neuroarchitecture – How the environment impacts our mood and behavior

Neuroarchitecture – How the environment impacts our mood and behavior

Scientific advances prove, physical characteristics of the environment we are in awaken sensations and influence our behavior. Learn a little more about this area of ​​study and how to apply this knowledge to your home decor.

Google offices in Moscow, an example of corporate neuroarchitecture.

Neuroscience is the science dedicated to the study, analysis and observation of the nervous system, that is, the behavior of our brain. In addition to architecture, neuroarchitecture aims to unravel the effects of the environment (spatial perception, light, colors, temperature…) on the brain and consequently on human behavior.

It is not difficult for us to remember sensations aroused by the environment we were in. Who has never felt uncomfortable and apprehensive in the strong, cold light of a dentist’s chair, or small in front of the majestic and imposing altar of a church?

According to Sarah Williams Goldhagens, author of the book Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives, these sensations are just the tip of the iceberg, as around 90% of cognitions are unconscious, that is, environments transform our mood and behavior without us noticing.

It is common to observe restaurants and stores that, aware of the power of influence of the environment in our decisions, use techniques in order to attract the desired public and encourage consumption.

This knowledge, however, can be applied to several other fields in order to improve people’s quality of life.

Building a welcoming environment that generates a sense of security and well-being can help patients recover in a clinic, for example. The school environment can also promote creativity, concentration and socialization through physical and visual elements.

A place to create and produce

The meteoric growth of technology companies and startups, revealing the triumph of the new, of the disruptive over the traditional, has made the application of neuroarchitecture in corporate environments more notorious. Today, the famous Google and Facebook offices are role models for those who believe that friendlier environments produce happier, more productive, and more collaborative employees.

Considering that work is sometimes where employees spend most of the day, it’s smart to create an environment they want to be in, with outlets for stress and fatigue, encouraging socialization and creativity.

Google's Tel Aviv office.

Google’s Tel Aviv office

Google’s Zurich office.

Neuroarchitecture on the urban scale

“Urban life can change brain biology in some people”

Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, University of Heidelberg

Little is said about the influences of urban design on human behavior, but important studies in the area reveal how the city and its proportions impact our physical and mental health.

In 2017, the Conscious Cities Conference, in London, brought together professionals engaged in uncovering and monitoring how urban structures, such as buildings, skyscrapers and empty spaces, psychologically affect citizens, their mental states and mood.

Urban structures influence our mood. Urban structures influence our state of mind.

Colin Ellard, a researcher at the University of Waterloo in Canada, noted that people are strongly affected by building facades. They quicken their pace in front of a monotonous facade as if they were fleeing that dead zone, but they feel stimulated and engaged in front of complex and interesting facades.

Proving that proximity to nature can chemically and biologically alter our organism, a study carried out with the population of England in 2008 found that the vulnerability and risk of circulatory diseases among the poorest population is lower in greener areas.

Vancouver is often considered one of the best cities to live.

Vancouver, often considered one of the best cities in which to live, has a construction and development policy focused on green areas and valuing nature.

Neuroarchitecture applied to your home decor

Even without being an architect, with some basic knowledge, it is possible to apply the principles of neuroarchitecture to your decor. Write down the following tips to create a warm and familiar environment that conveys a sense of security and warmth in your home.

Affective decoration, personal objects create an atmosphere of belonging. Affective decoration: invest in elements loaded with meaning.

Personalization: Objects that tell your story – family objects, photos, travel souvenirs – awaken the feeling of familiarity and belonging.

Stimulate the senses: Vision is not the only sensory pathway to explore. Aromas and textures are also tools that enrich the environment.

Touch and smell: sensory stimuli enrich the experience of being at home. Touch and Smell: Sensory stimuli enrich the experience of being at home.

Colors: Colors stimulate our brain in different ways, so they are a fundamental part of the decoration. Earth tones work well in creating a warm and welcoming environment.

Lighting: Escape the cold light if you want to create an atmosphere of rest and relaxation. Warm light is ideal for bedrooms and living rooms. By day, natural light brings comfort as well as health benefits.

Acoustic comfort: Noise and noise are also stimuli that impact our mood, so the acoustic comfort of our home should not be ignored.

Vegetation and natural light bring a bit of nature into the home. Vegetation and natural light bring a bit of nature into the home.

Natural elements: Contact with nature generates well-being and positively impacts us. It is worth investing in plants for indoor environments or natural coverings such as stone and wood.