The environment that we live and work in are rarely considered an important factor in our overall well-being. While some may consider the layout of a room a minuscule element, the environment around us can significantly influence our mood, productivity, energy levels, and attitude. We’ve sat down with Colé Brown, Project Staff at BC Architects to discuss the psychological effects interior layouts can have on its occupants. Here is what she had to say:
ON: Why should Architects consider the psychological effects of a space when designing?
CB: Architects aren’t necessarily charged with the health of occupants, however, they are responsible for a design that supports the health, safety, and welfare of others. Since we spend about 90% of our lives indoors, the psychological impact of the design and layout of a space should be considered in the initial design stages.
ON: Is it important to incorporate natural lighting in the design of interiors?
CB: Yes, having natural light in buildings that people will inhabit every day especially to work in or live in is very important. Research has shown that natural lighting helps people be more productive, happier, and healthier. It has been proven that by simply being exposed to natural light for a short period of time can prevent depression in adults as well as children and boost one’s spirits.
ON: We spend most of our life indoors, how do you think the size and spaciousness of a building affects our moods?
CB: Based on my experience with mixed-use projects, variations in size and shape of a building can affect how we process information. Most people probably have not given the height of a room’s ceiling much thought, however it does make a difference in the way we think and react to our surroundings. For example, most art studios or theater rooms have higher ceiling because those areas foster creativity, and abstract thoughts. While buildings with lower ceilings, such as offices allows for a more focus on specifics.
ON: How do you incorporate environmental and interior design psychology into your projects?
CB: When working on residential homes, it is always important to have proper ventilation in each room, and also having windows in the main living spaces and bedrooms. In mixed-use development the same applies to the residential units. To support this statement, patio enclosures says that 47% of the energy used in a home is for space conditioning (lighting and temperature control). Natural light produces energy savings by allowing a homeowner to use less heat, less air conditioning and eliminates the need to use artificial light. In some cases, adding natural light to a home caused energy costs to decrease by as much as 75%.
I like to do designs that encourage indoor out door spaces, because these spaces help to make the room it is connected to feel bigger and lets natural light into the space. But Aside from health and energy saving benefits, letting natural light in with connecting indoor out door spaces also increasing the aesthetics of a space. Architects use natural light to make spaces appear larger, illuminate an interior structure and increase the beauty of a space.
ON: Sir William Churchill once said, “We make our buildings and afterwards they make us”. Do you believe that Architecture influences our human behavior?
CB: Yes, I do believe that architecture can influence our mood / human behavior.People feel more comfortable in spaces that are not dark and cramped and as stated before can get depressed or very uncomfortable in a space that does not proved adequate natural light and ventilation.