The term “neuroarchitecture” is used to describe architecture and interior design that is devised in a way to shape and influence human physiological and psychological responses. Most architects and interior designers practice some amount of neuroarchitecture when they design with human emotional responses and well-being in mind.
Neuroarchitecture is similar in its premise to “neuroaesthetics” in the visual arts and “neurourbanism” in urban planning.
Some examples of architectural and design elements that neuroarchitecture might account for are:
- Spatial configurations
- Continuity and transparency
- Access to art and nature
To put some of these elements into perspective, one article argues that such religious monumental architecture buildings were intentionally designed with structural factors such as large scale, vertical position, upward height, and ceiling height to target sensory biases and trigger awe.
The asclepieia healing temples built in Ancient Greece are another example of neuroarchitecture. Their therapeutic landscapes were strategically designed to help healing and well-being, considering architectural factors such as the natural setting, the built environment, sense of place, and symbolic landscape.
From biophilic principles to visual art, explore neuroarchitecture examples across healthcare, the workplace, and educational spaces.
Neuroarchitecture in Healthcare
With the critical care and urgency involved in healthcare settings, it’s no surprise that neuroarchitecture, along with evidence-based design and therapeutic architecture, is consistently set as a priority over aesthetics.
Here are some examples of how neuroarchitecture can be applied to healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and assisted living facilities:
- Access to nature: Integrating exterior views or therapeutic gardens has been a design strategy since at least Ancient Greece. One study showed that patients with views of nature recovered more quickly from surgery and needed less pain medication than those who had a view of a brick wall.
- Positive distractions: Much like nature, environmental stimuli such as the right visual art can assist in reducing stressors. Spaces without such positive distractions – like clinics with white walls – might encourage patients to focus on their health-related fears and pain. Research has also shown that such positive distractions can even influence physiological systems, namely blood pressure.
- Natural light: The presence of natural light in healthcare as well as window orientation have been associated with shorter duration of in-patient stays, accelerated post-operative recovery, more effective pain alleviation, and boosted employee morale.
- Colour cues: Colour across signage and zoning can help in wayfinding and orientation, which is a crucial consideration when designing for elderly and dementia care.