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Acknowledgements My sincere thanks to my tutors Sabine Coady Schaebitz and Frazer Bufton for helping and inspiring me to create this work. I am profoundly grateful for the effort and dedication they have put in advising and coordinating the development of this study.

Table of Contents INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................................................... 4 The story ................................................................................................................................................. 8 1. It’s all in the mind; Neurogenesis ........................................................................................... 12 2. Between space and emotion .................................................................................................. 16 3. Seduction; the aesthetic of intoxication .................................................................................. 22 4. Against the panopticon ............................................................................................................ 28 5. Paths through shadows; Let it be light! ................................................................................... 34

CONCLUSIONS ....................................................................................................................................... 37 BIBLIOGRAPHY ...................................................................................................................................... 39 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS......................................................................................................................... 42

INTRODUCTION Architecture is the art that defines space and time, being used and created by man. To understand its implications it is extremely important to study the relationship between man and space, how one influences the other. Both are complementary, each having a direct relation to the other: man defines the spaces he lives in and space in turn defines the man’s activities. That is how architecture serves the man and it creates a space for his body and for his mind. The body is the centre of space, and with it we use our senses to contemplate, touch, hear, and perceive the world around us and give to the building its human scale. But has the architect always used the human as his focus when designing a building? Did he actually create spaces for human wellbeing, or just for aesthetics or practicality? This essay stresses the importance of the built environment on our wellbeing and health, and tries to show, starting from a concrete example, that space has got the capacity to push the mind to promote health or illness, cure or cause.. It debates this theory, by bringing forward arguments and ideas that can eventually make us think seriously about the implication of the quality of the spaces that define our life. Space can touch us, not literally but metaphysically, it can drag emotions from us and bring back memories, or it can just release certain emotions in the moment of occupation, such as a sense of scale, or a feeling of safety or unease. Moreover, it can influence our mood through various factors like colour, light and shape. Studying these issues about space, I aim to gather information about our perception of the surroundings from a theoretical and psychological point of view. I will explore how these theories can be “taken” forward to improve the quality of the built environment and thus, the quality of our lives. There hasn’t been much research into this topic, even though the roots of metaphysical healing go back into antiquity, through theories about the power of the Gods and energies, which were implemented into the monumental buildings built for meditation and recovery. Architecture has always been approached from a rational point of view, as something

palpable, something that is created only for the physical purpose of giving shelter. The hypothesis of his essay, is that behind the creation of architecture lies a more profound subject, one that is capable of generating emotions and feelings that have a major impact on our mood and by implication on our health.

Research question How can architects design spaces capable of bringing happiness and speed healing? What are the architectural means to create these healthy atmospheres?

There is a dual resonance of the term healing and thus the whole study. The title could be read in two different ways. The first one, which also refers to the first question from this research, sees healing as the process of overcoming a physical or psychological illness. This is why the tile could be called “Healing through architecture”. The second perspective, or the second title of this study is “Healing Architecture” which is looking at ways of improving the field nowadays, exploring the idea of creating “healthy” designs that could improve the quality of living. -

Chapter 1, , “It’s all in the mind; Neurogenesis”. Presents a clear, concise and easily understandable argument for which is important to research into neuroscience: neurogenesis, birth of new neurons.


Chapter 2, “Between space and emotion”, explores how and through what mediums the space influences our mind. These are stimuli perceived by us and which generate feelings and emotions within us.


Chapter 3, “Seduction; the aesthetic of intoxication”1, reveals the importance of aesthetics in architecture. The difference between construction and architecture is actually the use of detail and aesthetic, architecture being an art that gives emotions.


Leach, 1999


Chapter 4, “Against the panopticon”, looks at the actual healing space, the place where architecture and medicine meet (hospitals); it is an exploration of how hospitals have developed and in which direction the evidence based design is leading.


Chapter 5, “Paths through shadows; Let it be light!” concludes this study with a discussion of the way architecture is seen today with regards to the theme of health and wellbeing and the trends this field is surpassing at the moment.

“There was a time when I experienced architecture without thinking about it. Sometimes I can almost feel a particular door handle in my hand, a piece of metal shaped like the back of a spoon. I used to take hold of it when I went into my aunt's garden. That door handle still seems to me like a special sign of entry into a world of different moods and smells. I remember the sound of the gravel under my feet, the soft gleam of the waxed oak staircase, I can hear the heavy front door closing behind me as I walk along the dark corridor and enter the kitchen, the only really brightly lit room in the house.” 2

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.” 3

2 3

Zumthor, 1988 Dickens, 1861

Fig. 1

The room with a red ceiling

Out of sight, out of mind; times out of mind; put it out of your mind; you must be out of your mind; mind out! It’s all in the mind; it comes to mind; it’s on my mind; at the back of mind; in my mind’s eye. Of sound mind; of like mind; all of a mind. Absence of mind; presence of mind; strength of mind; Make up your mind; know your own mind; speak your mind; change your mind; never mind! Do you mind? 4


Glinn, 1999

1. It’s all in the mind; Neurogenesis The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n. (Satan, in Milton’s Paradise Lost)

Fig. 2

The human brain has always been a mystery for us, how do we see, smell, hear? How do we perceive colour? How can we coordinate our hands, feet, how do we speak? How do we actually function? The purpose of researching into neurology and architecture is to promote an advanced knowledge that links neuroscience research to a growing understanding of humans’ response to the built environment. The attempt is to gain a better insight into the response of the human brain in the built environment and thereby empower ourselves to better design those environments. Architecture tends not to be modest about the abilities that it takes to design a building. Moreover, to add all the considerations that comprise a building the structural, mechanical, acoustical, life safety, materials, can become a complicated process. Despite this process, architecture doesn’t always contribute to health, performance, spirituality, learning,

aesthetic pleasure etc. of the building users. Gaining a deeper insight into how the brain respond to various elements of the built environment can actually help us better design it. Architecture has the potential to influence the way we behave, feel, learn and how we perceive things in our world; understanding the influence of the architecture on our responses means to understand the brain. Neuroscience is a profession that is relatively new and is growing with such a rapid rate, while architecture is an ancient art that grows very slowly. Linking them together could result in a better way of building, like never before. The neuroscience of architectural experience explores what it is about the design space that affects the human brain and how the understanding of the brain’s response might lead us to improvement of architecture in the future. So, the main question would lead to: How to model the brain through architecture? Architects and neuroscientists are seeking a response to how people react to the various elements of the built environment; we perceive the built space through our senses primarily through vision but also hearing and touching. Brain response is obviously complex and there are so many variables that play including: human variation in size, human ability, physical and mental abilities, cultural expectations and so on. THE BRAIN

This basic information regarding the function of the brain is brought in to better explain how the exterior world is being perceived by visual, auditory Fig. 3

and other sensory systems. The brain is formed of approximately 100 billion

nerve cells, called neurons, which have the purpose to collect information. 5


The main three parts of a neuron are the - cell body - if the cell body dies, the neuron dies - the axon - carries the electrochemical message - dendrites - make connections to other cells and allow the neuron to talk with other cells or perceive the environment

The scope of bringing notions about the brain in this research is to better understand the actual phenomena that are generating an entire revolution in the neuroscience field and beyond. For a very long time it has been thought that the neuron is not a reproductive cell but nowadays studies and experiments have proven the contrary. Based on the assumption that the neurons can actually develop through life a new term has been introduced: 6 Neurogenesis – the birth of new neurons –they extend connections to parts of the brain within a month from the time they were born and the remarkable aspect is that they are affected radically by the environment to which they are exposed. If the environment is challenging and stimulating, the number of cells can be increased dramatically. 7 Changing the environment means to change the brain and thus our behaviour.. In conclusion, by combining the two mentioned parts: architecture and neuroscience we are going on the track of a healthy and health providing design.


In 1997, Kempermann has undertaken a test on mice that has shown how important is the environment to promote neurogenesis. He has demonstrated that the survival of newly generated neuronal cells has increased in adult mice which were living in an enriched environment and not in a standard laboratory cage. In addition, the physical activity has played an important role towards the stimulation of neurogenesis.( Philippe Taupin, Adult neurogenesis and neural stem cells in mammals) 7

“Over the course of childhood and through adolescence, these excess neurons die off based in part on how often they are stimulated by an external environment and other neurons….Gene expression, experience, mental activity, and behaviour are intertwined and form a transactional set of processes. The growth of new synapses and even new neurons gives us the capacity to nurture nature…”( John Boghosian Arden, Lloyd Linford, Brain-based therapy with adults: evidence-based treatment for everyday practice)

2. Between space and emotion “CONSTRUCTION: that’s for making things hold together; ARCHITECTURE: that’s for stirring emotions. Architectural emotion: that’s when the work resounds inside us in tune with a universe whose laws we are subject to…architecture is a matter of “relationship”, “a pure creation of the mind”.” 8 Architecture is one of the most urgent necessities that we have had from the beginning of time. Shelter has always been an indispensible need and was the first tool that man made for himself. From the first stages of civilisation, we developed our shelters to respond to our physical and emotional needs. We lived in caves, sheltered under trees, lived in tents, houses of wood or stone, and we needed them, consolidated them into communities, we moved into sun-dried brick houses, and used stucco, granite or marble to show our status and power. This development in construction was nothing more than a gesture towards health, a physical and psychological health, and a basic concern of us all. The purpose of this chapter is not to emphasise the importance of architecture on our health as being the generator for shelters to give physical protection. Instead it looks at architecture from a contemplative perspective, it recognizes architecture as being an art, an emotional phenomenon , independent from the practical considerations of construction. . Construction gives us shelter, architecture gives us emotions. As stated in the previous chapter, the experience of the body in space requires interaction between all of the senses. Yet whilst feelings are different in each human being, (we all have different emotions and emotional responses) the way they evolve is a universal process. Many studies have been carried out looking at how emotional responses are triggered and the process is very complex. At a basic level this process can be summarised as being generated from the appraisal by the individual of external stimuli and personal concern (existing or new).9

B a s

Fig. 4 Basic Model of emotion10


Le Corbusier 2007 p. 97 For example, wondering inside a labyrinth (stimulus) with the concern of the need for exploration, we realize that we are free to explore the space which provokes fascination and interest as emotional result. 9


Desmet 2002

Emotion in architecture occurs when the architectural object transmits a message to the user and successful architecture must be capable of attracting our senses whether smoothly or brutally, whether happily or tumultuously, whether through indifference or excitement. Once affected we are capable of perception beyond the initial sensation and it is in this way that a phenomena of engagement will occur and produce the pleasure of an emotional response in our consciousness and unconscious connection to a space.. Visiting valuable architecture, it is often detail that catches the minds’ eye, recalls the finger to touch the perfectly finished surface, and calls from us the simple reactions of silent exclamation, or where the eye can rest. Successful architecture is the one that pulls at our senses. If we feel architecture, it means that it has fulfilled its promise to us, a promise to be compelling, challenging, and stimulating.

' ...We want architecture to have more. Architecture that bleeds, that exhausts, that whirls and even breaks. Architecture that lights up, that stings, that rips, and under stress tears. Architecture should be cavernous, fiery, smooth, hard, angular, brutal, round, delicate, colourful, obscene, voluptuous, dreamy, alluring, repelling, wet, dry and throbbing. Alive or dead. Cold – then cold as a block of ice. Hot – then hot as a blazing wing. ARCHITECTURE MUST BLAZE ' 11

This manifesto instigates toward an emotional architecture, an architecture that challenges the body with all its senses. The below examples are illustrating two successful projects that have considered architecture as a way of dragging the senses out of the body. This architecture models the brain, changes behaviour, gives feelings and sensations. This architectural stimulus is capable to raise the most fascinating emotions.


Quote: Coop Himmelblau in: 'Coop Himmelblau: The power of the city', by Wolf Prix and Helmut Swiczinsky, Verlag Jürgen Häusser, Darmstadt 1992, pg. 95.


6. Seduction; the aesthetic of intoxication “We are unhappy living in unworthy houses because they ruin our health and our morale. We have become sedimentary beings that are our lot. The house eats away at us in our immobility, like consumption. We will soon need too many sanatoria. We are unhappy. Our houses disgust us…we become demoralized.”12 A month before dying, the writer Oscar Wilde said: “My Wallpaper and I Are Fighting a Duel to the Death. One or the Other of Us Has to Go “. To lie in bed in a suffocating patterned room can leech away optimism and produce an uncomfortable atmosphere. We harm ourselves by creating ugliness around us and occasionally this is purposeful as punishment or penance but creativity is wasted on ugliness. When we express ourselves in a negative way, without taking into consideration what could benefit rather than oppress we do a disservice to society and more often to those who are least able to exercise a choice in their environment, the sick, the elderly, the young or the dispossessed, . We spend our life leaving prints of our own personalities on the spaces we inhabit through the objects we collect, through the way we choose to paint our walls and ceilings and how we furnish them and. Yet, we are largely unaware about what works and what doesn’t, about what good architecture is and what it isn’t. We rely, consciously or unconsciously, on architects and designers to take the lead in shaping our environments and they are the ones who should know what will satisfy the user. Architects are trained to deliver design that is not only functional but also aesthetic; they are engineers but also artists, but might it be possible that the architect could be wrong? Isn’t it true that sometimes architects can be considered selfish trying to reveal only their own ego, without thinking about people, the ones who will actually inhabit the space they create? Arguably that is what lies behind the accusation that so many buildings of the most high profile buildings are aesthetically overdeveloped,




monuments to their creators’ ego which lack basic usability, and provide a poor


Fig. 5

Corbusier 2007 p. 94


environment for those who use them. Health and wellbeing is the primarily concern that architecture should consider. This was actually beginning to happen in the mid-20th century, when the modernists started to look at buildings as ‘machines for living’ (Corbusier) where the ‘form should follow function’ (Mies van der Rohe’s slogan). It was their belief that a building should keep you warm in winter, cool in summer and provide shelter and little else. However if this is all that architecture could provide us with, we would surely be poorly satisfied. Instead we want our houses to communicate feelings of domesticity, comfort memory and familiarity; we want the emotional connection of place. All modernist houses may look technological but in reality, many of them do not work; A perfect example is the symbol of modernist architecture: Villa Savoy, by Le Corbusier. This machine for living promised a healthy, clean, neat and organised way of living. The result was actually a truly unhealthy space, damp, over glazed and lacking privacy. As her son developed severe pneumonia Madame Savoy wrote to Le Corbusier saying: “It is raining in the hall, it’s raining on the ramp and the wall of the garage is absolutely soaked *….+ it’s still raining in my bathroom, which floods in bad weather, as the water comes in through


skylight. The gardener’s walls are also wet through”.13 A message to architects In his book “Towards a New Architecture”, Le Corbusier has three reminders for architects, as being the basic knowledge and strategy that they should apply in their design process. These are:

MASS which is the element by which our senses perceive and measure and are

most fully affected14 “Our eyes are made for seeing forms in light.”15 In Corbusier’s conception, the most beautiful forms are the primary forms because they can be easily read and also because our mind is always satisfied by the mathematics behind geometrical shapes. 

SURFACE which is the envelope of the mass and which can diminish or enlarge the sensation the latter gives us.


Botton, 2006 To strengthen this affirmation, a discovery that wan the Nobel Prize in 1981 by Hubel and Wiesel stated that “cells in the retina, and nerve cells in the parts of the brain that register vision, mainly respond and detect edges – the contrast between light and dark “ (Sternberg 2009 p. 26) 15 Corbusier 2007 p. 85 14


PLAN which is the generator both of mass and surface and is that by which the whole is irrevocably fixed

“The plan is the generator. Without plan, there is disorder, arbitrariness. The plan carries within it the essence of the sensation”16

Modernism could be the beginning of new concepts and a revolution in architecture, but in the end it is a style like any other. In fact, there was no technological necessity to build in the way they did. A building hasn’t got as many mechanical demands as the design of an airplane or a ship. There aren’t so many constraints in building a house which leaves the freedom of using the sense of taste and art. After a complete rebellion against the modernist lack of ornament with the postmodern designs, architecture is heading towards a more human concentrated direction. Designs are focused more on people’s needs and feelings. We have returned to an age of decoration and ornament which has its own role in the end. It’s meant to bring emotions, to take care about people in a more metaphysical way: to care about their mind, their mental health by providing enriched environments. Frank Lloyd Wright said that “Less is more only when more is too much.” It is a subjective issue, whether the use of ornament is a necessity nowadays but at the same time, it is a technique that should be very well mastered by the designer who should not fall in the abyss of the “anaesthetics of architecture”.


On the contrary, many new successful developments have demonstrated that the use of decoration, even if not being a functional necessity, is equally important with other functions. For example, Herzog & de Meuron’s library in Eberswalde, has got a concrete panel façade painted with various images of museums around the world. There is no mechanical or functional reason for doing this but it is there to communicate certain emotions. In the same way, in order to link the building to its


Corbusier 2007 p. 67 17 “What results is a culture of mindless consumption, where there is no longer any possibility of meaningful discourse. In such a culture the only effective strategy is one of seduction. Architectural design is reduced to the superficial play of empty, seductive forms, and philosophy is appropriated as an intellectual veneer to justify these forms.” (Leach,1999 , p. viii) In this book, Neil Leach explores the idea of the anaesthetisation of architecture because of cultural, social and political problems. Being unaware and considering other issues more important than our buildings, we are anaesthetising which means, intoxicating the aesthetics. (anaesthetic – referring at the term in medicine, drug that causes anesthesia—reversible loss of sensation)


cultural context, Jean Nouvel’s High Rise Office Building from Doha or the Lovre Museum in Abu Dhabi use of ornament in the façade or ceiling.

Fig. 6

Eberswalde Technical School Library, Herzog & de Meuron18


The reason for which I have chosen this building was to illustrate the tendency of using a highly amount of decoration in sending certain emotions in architecture. The actual building does not appeal to me aesthetically but it does have a strong and imposing attitude through the visual message transmitted, performing a “gesture of memory”. ()Herzong & de Meuron: natural history), Philip Ursprung, Lars Muller Publishers, 2003;


High Rise Office Building proposal for Doha in Qatar, Jean Nouvel Fig. 7

Lovre Museum, Abu Dhabi Jean Nouvel Fig. 8



7. Against the panopticon “Disciplinary power based on the instruments of observation, judgement and examination are enabled by a carefully designed institutional architecture permitting total surveillance: the hospital building is organized as „an instrument of medical action‟,.”19

In the same train of thoughts, back in the 1950’s, order was the leading concept in building. The regulatory line introduced by Le Corbusier was the generator of space but at the same time order was the rule and the promise of a better world. Discipline in any field would guarantee a successful function of any system. Regarding institutions, Michel Foucault’s panopticon study was thoroughly followed. Hospitals, prisons, schools – they were machines for healing, changing behaviour and educating. “But the Panopticon was also a laboratory;. A machine to carry out experiments, to alter behaviour, to train or correct individuals. To experiment with medicines and monitor their effects.” (Leach,2004) Michal Foucault’s model, the panopticon is nothing more than a prison for cure, a factory that generates human’s health, where people are born, are dying, are fed; is bringing the modernist conception of a building, the machine for living, where the body is another piece connected to the mechanism. Various examples should strengthen how important it is to get away from this modernist concept and to look at the future from a perspective where medicine is no longer concentrated only on the physical side of the body. As stated before, medicine is already taking a step forward by combining the alternative with the complementary and our mission as architects is to assure the conditions necessary for this to happen. Even if technology has improved considerably, many of our hospitals are still kept in those conditions. When thinking about hospital one thinks about pain, about the smell, the sound of wheels, the fade of white. It is the most unappealing image, one of the worst places one could be in. As a response to this image, the evidence-based design has introduced strategies for the hospital design and sees architecture as a complementary side of the healing process. This is a turning point in the development of hospitals, where this


Tina Besley, Michael A. Peters, Subjectivity & truth: Foucault, education, and the culture of self.p 79


institution turns its back to the old concept of the panopticon, focusing on the patient and not on the disease in particular. Based on rigorous methods of quantifying the quality of the surrounding features, architects have been investigating and promoting this new field: evidence-based design. This is validated research, using a set of architectural strategies with the purpose of promoting good design in the healthcare sector with the belief that this would improve the quality of living for both patients and care providers.20 These images have been selected to show some of the most successful projects that have been developed in the recent years.




rigorously the evidence based design methods.

Akershus University Hospital

Fig. 9

Emergency and Infectious Diseases Unit SUS in Malmö 20

“Evidence-based design (EBD) is a process used by healthcare professionals in the planning, design, and construction of healthcare facilities. An evidence-based designer, along with an informed client, makes decisions based on the best information available from research, from project evaluations, and from evidence gathered from the operations of the client. EBD should result in demonstrated improvements in the organization’s utilization of resources… researchers have proposed the definition of EBD as “the process of basing decisions about the built environment on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes”(The Center for Health Dsign,2009)”.


Fig. 10

CircleBath Foster + Partners

Fig. 11

Moreover, the link between buildings and well-being has been throughly demonstrated through the evidence based design and the work of researchers. In brief, the most important aspects that have been extracted from “Evidence based design” to consider when designing a building are enumerated below. These are mostly based on the natural light strategies21 and biophilia theory. 22


“ Taking advantage of natural light minimizes the need for electric lighting during the daytime, saves energy, saves money, and lifts the spirits of building occupants. When daylight is properly controlled and complemented by good views and glare control, the combination is a powerful component of green interiors, and few strategies can top it for impact. “(Bonda and Sosnowchik,2006) Roger Ulrich has researched on the impact of windows as promoters for healing in hospitals. His research was interpreted from both neurological and architectural point of view. Neuroscientists have monitored the areas in the brain that would become activated while the patient was looking at the scene. By measuring the


physiological response such as stress and relaxation, stress hormones in saliva, and changes in heart-rate variability and breathing, they could notice that all these elements have increased quality considerably. “The study by the Heschong Mahone Group based near Sacramento found that students who took their lessons in classrooms with more natural light scored as much as 25% higher on standardized tests than other students in the same school district… The main theory for why this might be the case is that "daylighting" enhances learning by boosting the eyesight, mood and/or health of students and their teachers. ” 22 “In The Biophilia Hypothesis, Harvard entomologist E. O. Wilson theorized that because humans evolved in nature, they are inherently imbued with biophilia or love of life and tend to seek out and thrive in surroundings that mimic the natural world”(Wilson & Kellert, 1995) Biophilic design in a healthcare setting, then, suggests that utilizing environmental features (natural materials or plants) or natural shapes and forms (botanical motifs) helps improve outcomes such as pain reduction (McCullough, 2009)


Links between well-being outcomes and building features, Evidence Based Design23

Fig. 12

From the architectural side, light intensity, wavelength, colour, temperature, airflow, were measured with highly preforming machines which have also shown the improvement of these factors. By combining these two studies, the conclusion is obvious, the built environment has a highly important influence on our perception “physical places that can set the mind at ease can contribute to wellbeing, and those that trouble the emotions might foster illness. � 24 Architecture is historically drawn from intuition and pragmatism, historical precedents, theory, physics and technology and social and behavioural sciences. This relatively new field of evidence-based design has started to add a new level of rigor and scientific bases to our approach to design. The confluence of these parts is the actual definition of sustainable design that will facilitate high performance occupants in high performance buildings.


Mc Cullough, 2009


Sternberg, 2009



8. Paths through shadows; Let it be light! In some cases it can be argued that architecture is not concerned about people or it creates the product thinking beyond people. The theme of health and wellbeing is interconnected to them while architecture is sometimes not. The main mistake which the architect could do is not to think about the user. First of all, the obsession of anesthetisation is creating the building a bare architectural image, the man being only the one who is playing a game of admiration. He is not in the centre of attention but outside of the sphere, contemplating the art. Once entering the space, he will become an intruder and the whole architectural concept will collapse. This is the theory of architecture without people. At the same time, architecture focuses beyond people. By saying that, I am raising the question of whether architecture is leading towards a non-human direction. That is the idea of designs which are focusing on the function of systems rather than the object. The challenge is the integration of architecture with the environment and through it to actually solve global issues such as natural disasters, water, agriculture, population, biodiversity. It does reflect a concern about our wellbeing and health in the long run but the manner which has been undertaken forgets about the actual user. To consolidate this idea, I have considered how architecture will be seen in the future. By looking at the latest projects to win the RIBA Presidents medal competition, I am arguing that the concern of the winners for issues of surrounding global security and environment have reached such a level that that they have moved beyond the needs of the building user. They are creating a ‘dystopian’ vision of the future, they have omitted the humanity from their ideas, creating exciting architecture perhaps, but forgetting about people. Architecture without people is also architecture as art where the users are just contemplating space and not occupying it. Indeed, these are promoters of highly conceptualized ideas, but in the end, it can be deducted that they are actually the promoters of a new style. Rather than supporting an optimistic and beneficial architecture, brings in a deeper and more apocalyptic vision of the modernists idea of machines and functionality.




CONCLUSIONS In this essay I have attempted to highlight some of the problems of contemporary architecture in relation with health and wellbeing. By exploring the notions of neurology and psychology in relation to architecture I have tried to respond to the questions that introduced this study. This piece of work concluded by suggesting that architecture should not ignore that: 

it can be seen as a complementary tool and together with medicine can contribute to the healing and wellbeing of people and speed healing

there are many researched methods to create healthy atmospheres but the most important are the return to nature through biophillic strategies and the use of natural light

Not many are aware of how important the space around us is. They live in oppressing environments without realizing that they trigger their illness, if it is not psychical it can be psychological or even spiritual. It is a shame not to take advantage of the benefits that architecture could offer us and by using the evidenced methods for designing a new path could be followed. It was not an accident to name the last chapter “Paths through shadows; Let it be light!” This is an incentive to an enlightened architecture which turns towards nature and light. The future does not have to rely on machines and even less on machines for living and it was reinforced how important it is to get away from this modernist concept. The future should be seen from a perspective where medicine is no longer concentrated on the physical side alone but where the health of the mind has equal prominence to the designer and commissioner. As stated before, medicine is already taking a step forward by combining alternative and complementary treatment with mainstream medicine and our mission as architects is to assure the conditions necessary for this to happen. A non-human attitude should be avoided in architecture; it should be focused on the individual, on his needs and emotions. It should raise wonders, should be vibrant and capable of thrilling. Architecture must learn and listen to what other domains have to share. Maybe it should go back to the Renaissance ideas, that an architect could be a painter, a musician and a doctor in order to understand the relations between domains. As an


architect one should be able to comprehend more than one field of study in order to create a design that can be thorough enough to meet the human needs. It resembles the organism as a whole. The brain and the feelings influence the health of every cell in the body. Therefore, the architect should be the one that binds all the above mentioned theories in a majestic way. He should propose an architecture that appeals to both the mind and the senses, is functional within a compelling form, it is ordered but not restrictive, it is projecting the ego of the users and not of the creator himself. People should be wise in modelling their living. In conclusion, we can heal architecture with all the strategies mentioned in this study while architecture can heal us through its physical and psychological tools. As architects, we have to heal in order to be healed. It is a recurring phenomenon. “There is wisdom of the head, and wisdom of the heart.� -Charles Dickens-

38 Fig. 13


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Weiner, Jonathan, (1999) Time, Love, Memory, New York, Alfred A. Knopf

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List of Illustrations Fig 1 –the picture illustrates my own room that used to have a red ceiling; the whole debate starts from this ceiling that in my opinion, used to have a negative influence on my mood Fig 2 – concept by Silvia Hellen Cardosa, Center for Biomedical Information, University of Campinas, Brazil Fig 3 – The Neuron, Fig 4 – Basic Model of Emotion, Peter Desmet, Basic model of emotions, In Designing Emotions Fig 7 – Villa Savoy, Fig 7 – Eberswalde Technical School Library, Herzog & de Meuron Fig 9 – High Rise Office Building proposal for Doha in Qatar, Jean Nouvel Fig 10 – Lovre Museum, Abu Dhabi, Jean Nouvel, Fig 11 – Akershus University Hospital, Fig 11– Emergency and Infectious Diseases Unit SUS in Malmö, Fig 12 – CircleBath Foster + Partners, Fig 13 –Evidence Based Design for Health Care Facilities Fig 14 – Fig 15 – Fig 16 – Fig 17 – Fig 18 – Fig 19 –2010, in Architects, by Bob Borson


Fig 22 – Fig 23 – Images from the covers: 1. Jean Nouvel – Le Hauvre ( 2. Neurons 3. Emotions- 4. Kaufmann Desert House – Aidan Ridyard slides 5. Panopticon - 6. Forest -


Profile for Alina Voinescu

Healing (through) architecture  

Final Year Dissertation

Healing (through) architecture  

Final Year Dissertation