Buildings constantly surround us and frame our lives, and architecture is the art behind their construction. It is no wonder that architecture has a major affect on our mood and behaviour. “To be a good architect, you need to have a deep appreciation of human character and its capacity for transformation,” says Adrian Lahoud, dean at the Royal College of Art.
“The impact architecture has on a person’s mood is huge,” adds Dr Melanie Dodd, programme director at the Central St Martins art school. “Arguably these are the fundamentals of architecture: not how it looks, but how we feel it, through the way it allows us to act, behave, think and reflect.”
From the materials used to the direction of the windows, everything is taken into consideration when designing a building, since it all has a psychological affect. Space, for instance, has a huge impact on us, with small rooms inciting feelings of confinement and bigger rooms inciting feelings of freedom.
The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, in Oslo, seamlessly merges with the landscape around it, as seen in the featured image. Designed by the architect firm, Snøhetta, it is made from white marble and glass. Although it is aesthetically pleasing, the Opera House has grown into a public square for locals, who use it for dog walking, picnicking, and even Tai Chi. Snøhetta has two principals, Norwegian Kjetil Thorsen and American Craig Dykers. Thorsen describes the firm’s ethos as, “open, direct, accessible, egalitarian”, and you begin to understand his words when you look at the Opera House and the effect it has had on the locals, and how it has pulled a community together.
Another architectural feature is light. “Light certainly has a physiological impact on people,” says Dr Alan Lewis, a lecturer in architecture at Manchester University. “Research has shown that visible light helps the human body to regulate the production of the hormone melatonin, which in turn helps to regulate our body clock, affecting sleep patterns and digestion. Visible light also helps to stimulate the body’s production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can reduce the symptoms of depression.”
Colour has similar affects to light, with lighter colours having a more positive affect on moods than darker colours. A study published in 2009 discovered how the colour of interior walls influenced the imagination. Red encouraged accuracy and attention to detail, while blue encouraged twice as much creativity than those surrounded by red walls.
As with all things, architecture affects us all differently and is subject to what we personally associate with. We change daily and the buildings we come into contact with change with us. Similar to humans, buildings need care and company to operate well, as Dr Raymond Lucas, head of architecture at the Manchester University, explains, “Buildings are never truly ‘finished’. They require constant maintenance and occupation in order to function well.”