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10 January, 2024
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10 January, 2024

Approaching to «neuroarchitecture»


The history of «neuroarchitecture» dates back to the 1950s with Jonas Salk, a virologist in search of the polio vaccine, who faced significant challenges during his research process. After several years of work in his dark and enclosed laboratory, Salk realized he was stuck and decided to take a break. In his quest for something to reconnect him, the scientist temporarily sought refuge in the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi in Italy, where he experienced moments of peace that provided the mental clarity necessary to successfully develop the vaccine.

Deeply convinced of the influence of the environment on the creative process, Salk, along with architect Louis Kahn, founded the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 1965, located in a California neighborhood. This center became the place where the first scientific studies were conducted, demonstrating the close relationship between space and productivity, giving rise to what we now know as neuroarchitecture.

Years later, in 2003, neuroscientist Fred Gage continued this work and founded the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture in San Diego (ANFA), contributing advances on how the environment we inhabit directly impacts the brain and our emotions.

Regarding the definition, it can be said that this branch of architecture is based on measuring and analyzing human responses to architectural space, considering factors such as shapes, vegetation, furniture distribution, wall color, and ceiling height, among others.

The key to this type of work lies in collecting involuntary physiological responses from the subject within a laboratory. To achieve this, virtual reality is employed as a tool to visualize and modify spaces in a controlled manner (variables), while various tools such as skin sweating, electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram, and eye-tracking methods are used to measure the subject’s responses.

Additionally, traditional psychological methods like focus groups and questionnaires are used, allowing for conscious and voluntary information from participants. Thus, the combination of neuroscience and traditional psychology approaches enables a comprehensive understanding of how the architectural environment affects both conscious and unconscious responses, providing a complete perspective on the impact of spatial design on human behavior and emotions.

It is important to note that discussing neuroarchitecture requires the application of neuroscience tools in the research process. Otherwise, it would be a different kind of approach, not neuroarchitecture.

Here is a link to an article that delves into this topic: “Space and Brain: An Approach to Neuroarchitecture and Evidence for Responsible and Conscious Design.”