Neuroarchitecture is born from the interaction between neuroscience and architecture. If we want to go specifically, we talk about neuroarchitecture when the design is actually based on neuroscientific research. To be even more precise, the aim of the discipline is to create spaces mentally on a human scale, so that whoever frequents them can obtain a psycho-physical well-being.
The term "well-being" does not only mean comfort and happiness, but all spaces, public and private, which have a positive impact on the collection of information and on the perception of sensitive data that each individual puts into action when he or she comes into contact with the surrounding environment and which causes certain moods. To welcome students into classes that encourage learning; to host patients in hospitals that help recovery; to collect visitors in museums that support attention; to place employees in offices that ease tension and improve efficiency. These are all examples of environments that trigger positive stimuli in the human being.
The research that has been conducted so far shows how light, colours, landscapes, shapes, materials, furniture, rooms, sense of direction, building facades and green spaces send precise signals to our brain, which transforms them into mental associations and generates emotional reactions. In particular, those responsible - both for our positioning and for space navigation in the present and future - are a group of nerve cells present in the hippocampus region and in the entorhinal cortex. To analyze the physiological response of our body, which manifests itself as an alteration of cardiac, cerebral or sweating activity, the instruments used were different. In fact, we go from bracelets and tracking apps to electroencephalograms and biosensors - connected to the GPS - which provide the subject's position and geographical information. In addition, thanks to augmented reality, we have the possibility to test a priori what the impact of an environment could be on the subject in question.
Hugo J. Spiers, Director of the Spatial Cognition Laboratory at UCL, lists some specific features of a building based on the neuropsychological benefit it offers: ensuring good light exposure and good visibility of access to upper and lower floors and exit routes; building a dynamic, sinuous façade; characterizing environments so that they are clearly recognizable; ensuring linear directionality; and providing a broad view of natural elements. Michael Bond seems to corroborate the above thesis when he describes the Pruitt-Igoe neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, USA (which lasted just over a decade) as a negative example of architectural impact on humans: having neglected the "human" criterion in the design, it seems that the plan (33 indistinct and spatially monotonous skyscrapers) has triggered antisocial behavior, increasing the crime rate.
Although neuroarchitecture is a discipline born in the 21st century thanks to the progress of research, it is also true that the pivotal principle on which it is based, namely the human being as such, draws attention to an anthropocentric-humanistic approach, already used in the classical world and the Renaissance. The personalities involved in neuroarchitecture come from the two disciplines that make it up. We can quote: Stai Palti, architect and researcher, Director of Hume (a studio that offers architectural and urban design services based on research in the field of behavioral neuroscience) and of the Center for Conscious Design (interdisciplinary think tank that studies the impact of design on complex socio-cultural phenomena) and ANFA's advisor; Kate Jeffery, Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience and founder of the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience at UCL; Colin Ellard, Director of the Urban Realities Lab (which studies the impact of urban design on human psychology). If instead we focus on the Italian territory we can mention Davide Ruzzon, scientific director of Tuned and scientific director of the Master NAAD (neuroscience applied to architectural design).
Since the human being as such returns to be the core of design, there are many factors that must be taken into account (moreover, without ensuring a final univocal and universally applicable solution). Therefore, it is understandable how the nature of neuroarchitecture is relative and flexible. However, while the need for tailor-made representations complicates the overall picture, a conscious, healthy and sustainable approach bodes well for optimal harmonization with the world, exploring human evolutionary processes and improving the resilience of our planet.
Translated by Camilla Giovanelli