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Neuroscience: The Latest Architecture and News

What Neuroscience Says About Modern Architecture Approach

This article was originally published on Common Edge as "The Mental Disorders that Gave Us Modern Architecture".

How did modern architecture happen? How did we evolve so quickly from architecture that had ornament and detail, to buildings that were often blank and devoid of detail? Why did the look and feel of buildings shift so dramatically in the early 20th century? History holds that modernism was the idealistic impulse that emerged out of the physical, moral and spiritual wreckage of the First World War. While there were other factors at work as well, this explanation, though undoubtedly true, tells an incomplete picture.

Neuroarchitecture Applied in Children's Design

Jardim de Infância SP / HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro. Image © Studio Bauhaus, Ryuji InoueEscola Nía / Sulkin Askenazi. Image © Aldo C. GraciaPlayville Day Care / NITAPROW. Image © Ketsiree WongwanBiblioteca da Escola Umbrella / Savana Lazaretti Arquitetura e Design Sensorial. Image © Renata Salles+ 21

It is unquestionable that environments directly influence the behavior and emotions of their users. Human beings spend approximately 90% of their lives indoors, making it imperative that the spaces we inhabit stimulate positive behavior and emotions, or at least don't influence us negatively. There exists a specific term describing the stimuli that the brain receives from its environment: neuroarchitecture. Several studies have been published on this topic, most focusing on its impact on work environments. This article approaches this concept through a different, yet essential lens: emphasizing its importance in the design of spaces for children in early childhood.

Open Call: Conscious Cities Anthology 2018: Official Publication of the 2018 Conscious Cities Festival

In anticipation of the 2018 Conscious Cities Festival this October, we are delighted to announce an open call for submissions to its official publication - showcasing the diverse and impactful thinking by Conscious Cities practitioners.

For this issue, we are soliciting submissions related to the Conscious Cities manifesto from both festival participants and the general public. Festival participants have the freedom to submit any piece of work, regardless of what they plan to present. Casting this wide net will not only further demonstrate the vital and diverse work being done within the Conscious Cities movement, but also serve as a way

Here's What You Can Learn About Architecture from Tracking People's Eye Movements

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Game-Changing Eye-Tracking Studies Reveal How We Actually See Architecture."

While many architects have long clung to the old “form follows function” adage, form follows brain function might be the motto of today’s advertisers and automakers, who increasingly use high-tech tools to understand hidden human behaviors, and then design their products to meet them (without ever asking our permission!)

Biometric tools like an EEG (electroencephalogram) which measures brain waves; facial expression analysis software that follows our changing expressions; and eye-tracking, which allows us to record “unconscious” eye movements, are ubiquitous in all kinds of advertising and product development today—beyond the psychology or medical departments where you might expect to see them. These days you’ll also find them installed at the behavioral research and user experience labs in business schools such as American University in DC and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts.

What happens when you apply a biometric measure like eye-tracking to architecture? More than we expected...

From Smartphones to Smart Cities: What Happens When We Try to Solve Every Problem With Technology?

In order to be successful in any field, professionals must stay ahead of the curve—though in architecture nowadays, technology progresses so quickly that it’s difficult to be on the front lines. Virtual Reality can transport architects and their clients into unbuilt designs and foreign lands. Smart Cities implement a network of information and communication technologies to conserve resources and simplify everyday life. Responsive Design will give buildings the ability to be an extension of the human body by sensing occupants' needs and responding to them.

With the technology boom, if architects want to stay in the game they will inevitably have to work alongside not only techies but scientists too. Neuroscientist Colin Ellard works “at the intersection of psychology and architectural and urban design.” In his book, Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life, Ellard examines how our technology-based world impacts our emotions and behavior to try to figure out what kind of world we should strive to create.

This World-Leading Building Researcher Believes That Architecture Is Afraid of Science

Steven J Orfield in his anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs, which has been certified by Guinness World Records as the quietest place on earth. Image via screenshot from <a href='http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/06/26/finding-minnesota-orfield-laboratories/'>a WCCO video</a> about the chamber
Steven J Orfield in his anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs, which has been certified by Guinness World Records as the quietest place on earth. Image via screenshot from a WCCO video about the chamber

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "A Top Building Researcher Asks: Why is Architecture Afraid of Science?"

Recently we’ve written a fair amount about the state of architectural research. The general consensus appears to be that it lacks rigor and, even more importantly, is not grounded in good science. Steven J Orfield has some strong opinions about architectural research. He’s been conducting it—for architecture and design firms, as well as Fortune 500 companies—at his Minneapolis-based Orfield Laboratories for more than three decades now. Late last week I talked to him about why architects are afraid of science, how he would introduce it into the schools, and his work in the field of universal design.

Event: Conscious Cities Conference

Conscious Cities is a one-day conference organised by MoA and THECUBE that aims to explore the relationship between neuroscience and architecture. By bringing together neuroscientists, architects, engineers, planners and developers, the conference aims to offer necessary tools for understanding how the built environment impacts our cognitive functions, while also showing how professionals can use research in neuroscience to design better spaces and cities for the future.

Can Good Architecture Be as Calming as Meditation?

If ever architects needed a little vindication in their work, this might just be it: a team of neuroscientists have found evidence that good architecture can positively affect the human brain. Testing a highly susceptible group of subjects (i.e. architects), the team demonstrated that so-called "contemplative architecture" can have similar effects to meditation - except with much less effort on the part of the person experiencing it. This article in the Atlantic discusses the team's work at length, delving into the science behind the discovery, but also uncovering an interesting oddity in the world of architectural neuroscience: it seems not much is being done because "it’s difficult to suggest that people are dying from it." In the case of the current study, the team "totally loaded the deck" by only selecting architects as their subjects, apparently not aiming to prove anything but simply to secure further funding. Read the full article here for more on the latest in architectural neuroscience.

Straight Lines or Curves, Which Do We Prefer?

Do we prefer straight lines or curves? According to Eric Jaffe's article on Fast Co.Design, it seems we subconsciously prefer the latter. Our brains, he claims, have evolved to perceive potential threat in sharp edges. "Square watches, pointy couches, and the like activate the amygdala. The part of the brain that processes fear." Thus, our feelings, buying habits and favorite buildings are subject to our affection of curves. Investigate for yourself and make sure to read the full article here, “Why Our Brains Love Curvy Architecture.