Spaces of the Mind

Architecture is for the people and by the people, it’s blueprints of a person’s imagination and thinking. Father of analytical psychology, Carl Jung describes architectural drawings as diagrams of human psyche. More than anywhere we spend most of our lives indoors and residing in a city naturally subjects us to the urban life and sculpt our movement around buildings, railway stations, stores and importantly around people.

To look from a psychology point of view we are actually the products of windows in our house and length of our rooms. In the same way color is also medium of forming our psychologically state, a sense of emergency, appetite or peace.  University of British Columbia conducted a study on effects of colors on the human psyche proved that the color red increased concentration and attention on the given work and blue increased creative reasoning and imagination. Simply entering a room with heightened ceiling can induce dominance or a welcoming feeling according to the use of material, color and design of the space whereas a lower celling can make one feel warm and cozy or claustrophobic on how well ventilated and lite the space is.  A major factor in this is our backgrounds and genetic makeup, which affect our perceptions to feel and look at these spaces.

Cognitive thinking in navigation plays a very important role in development of urban spaces according to Prof Kate Jeffery.  With increasing globalization and technology, we forget to take a breath and think. Moving around in autopilot mode affects our thinking capacities. But when there is an obstacle or an unidentified event happening in the middle of the road or on the train, something like “new information detected” starts processing in our brains, which in turn stimulates our sense of exploration.  This results in either extreme frustration on interrupted movement or a sense of curiosity. In the latter case people start coming up with solutions and find their own way. Despite all design, architectural and natural obstacles people are good at finding their own comforts and ways. Prime example of this is people walking through parks and grassy lawns to reach quickly instead of on the long-paved paths. To regulate this thinking part of the brain and make the city and citizens active, more architects and designers should start working with neuroscientists to research effects of mental stress in a place and therapists to tackle the same. Other than these studies on most percentage of the population, a space, color, shape of a wall or even a street sign can evoke different triggers and memories for each individual, making certain places hostile and some welcoming.

“Spaces determine our behavior-for the most part without our conscious perceptions.”

  • Dr. Deinsberger-Deinsweger

Architecture and psychology can create massive shifts in cultural context. Partition and bare minimum windows in Rajasthani kitchens have induced division in gender roles over years. This combination can be used to induce the exact opposite effect to instigate thoughts of equity and freedom for future generations. It can be applied to all buildings types and environments we create. This approach can lead to true architectural designs.

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