UIC Barcelona Architecture lecturers Jordi Roviras and Cristina Garcia Castelao, founders of the Roviras Castelao Architecture Studio and specialists in healthy architecture, point out that neuroarchitecture will play a key role in the short-term future of construction. 3 October is World Architecture Day, under the theme of Architecture for well being
While Roviras points out that the percentage of buildings being designed according to the neuroarchitecture principles is still quite low today, he believes the trend is on the rise. “We are convinced that, in the near future, the vast majority of buildings will be designed and built under parameters of neuroarchitecture and bioconstruction. There is beginning to be an important demand by society for the constructions of spaces that are more respectful with the person,” the specialist in healthy architecture says.
“Neuroarchitecture can help us much more than we can imagine,” explains Roviras, who points out how the environment we see influences our emotions, what we feel and how we behave and can help us reduce stress or increase creativity. Garcia Castelao emphasises the importance of considering people’s characteristics: “the definition of the interior environments has to be well defined, always in relation to the exterior environment and in line with the biological and vital needs of the people who will live in these spaces.”
The feeling of being closed in creates stress and lowers productivity, while exterior views of buildings and vegetation often improve mood. In this sense, the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture lecturer points out that “the objective is always to generate spaces that are comfortable, promote a sense of well-being, peace and tranquillity and along this line, the texture and colour of the materials, the light (respecting the circadian rhythm as much as possible), ventilation and the geometry and composition of the spaces are always of vital importance.”
Light, colours and temperature effect the mood
In general, according to the experts, natural light helps people to concentrate and often creates a kinder atmosphere than artificial light. “The lack of or excess of permanent light should be avoided and gradual changes between light and darkness should be encouraged. A permanent lack of light causes or worsens low mood, pessimism, melancholy… The excess of permanent light causes or aggravates nervousness, neurosis, phobias, insomnia. Gradual changes should be provided between quality and darkness that cause or stimulate the joy of living, optimism, participation, and so on,” Roviras says.
The expert points out that colours also affect people’s mood. “It isn’t advisable to use too many colours or too extreme contrasts as this can cause a sense of uneasiness (chaos) and nervousness. The aim is to combine different colours in harmonious tones with a pleasant atmosphere. Colours of similar hues produce vivid and harmonious spaces,” he says.
According to Roviras, temperature is another important element to consider. Studies suggest that high ceilings would encourage creative and artistic activities while low ceilings promote concentration, routine work and a sense of security to sleep.
“Architecture is more than something seen, it’s something felt”
Architecture has to be focused on people’s health and well-being, taking into account their particularities and needs. Architecture, to some extent, becomes a sensory experience. “We always tell out students that architecture is more than something seen, it’s something felt. Being aware of the direct relationship between physical and mental architecture, we have to create spaces where people really feel well,” concludes Garcia Castelao.