In the early ages, man was sheltering in caves and primitive safe spots from dangers. As time passed, humankind learned how to use Mother Nature and built homes, which resulted in architecture development.
It affected not only the surroundings, but it also made an impact on humans. Architecture has become a form of art!
So, the question is, How Does Architecture Affect Society, and what is its impact on human life? That is what we are going to find out in this article (video).
Well, the human need for shelter is one of the essential basic needs, and the genesis of architecture improved the lives of people, and perhaps it even changed them. Our history as human beings is preserved and chronicled by the remaining works of architecture and historical monuments that give us information about the conditions of housing at that time, the nature of society, and also the daily life in several ways, as well as, the economic, intellectual and social aspects.
The nature of architecture, which differs from a society to another, is established by humans; however, and in return, human beings are affected by what their hands built. Architecture affects their psychological state, nature, behavior, and it affects even their physiological conditions!
This is what urged the researchers to discover and make serious studies on How Does Architecture Affect Society, and the results were significant and valuable to architects, which took the response to the human needs in terms of architectural design to another level.
First of all, we should understand:
1- What is Society?
Well, A society is a group of people involved in social interaction or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Society can be affected by many things, one of them is architecture.
2- Does Architecture Affect Our Behaviors And Mental Health?
To learn about the effects of architecture on the brain, Dr. Julio Bermudez used FMRI to monitor how architecture affects individuals’ ability to meditate. The study results were interesting: the continual presence in a certain type of architectural design produces health benefits. He explained that certain elements make a positive impact on meditation, which has been employed by builders of ancient times who built mosques and temples. The Alhambra Palace and the Taj Mahal are two examples of so many other prominent constructions.
Around 2008, a group of British researchers discovered a relation between architectural designs and people, noting that their patients’ psychotic symptoms increased after spending 10 minutes walking in London and predicted worse results if walking in Florida, for example, during rush hour.
Today, architectural theories are used in the design of hotels, parks, and shops as their design affect the behavior of buyers. The researcher Poundstone explained through an experiment made in the United States, which aimed to analyze the behavior of people in major shops. By observing a large number of consumers, who were wandering with their chart, the results of the experiment were the following: the ones who started their tour from the right to the left side spent about $2 more than others who started the tour from the opposite direction. This is why most of the shops’ entrances are designed to be on the right side in order to get the advantage of the previously mentioned experiment, maximizing the shop owners’ profit.
As you can see, it is not limited to residential buildings only, but it extends to all buildings with different functionality. For instance, the prison plays a major role in the proper psychological rehabilitation of the prisoners. The main objective of the prison is to help the prisoners go through the process of becoming decent, productive individuals in the community. Hospitals are also designed to serve the purpose of building it in the first place, and by that, I mean, accompanying the patients, trying to help them recover faster, and also accept treatment.
Transportation buildings have a major role in raising users’ awareness of its diverse traveling directions, services, and offices. That will eventually make it easy for the passengers to use these different means of transportation. Thus, increasing the building’s capacity to receive passengers is a must to ensure offering the best experience for them.
All buildings—from the smallest shops on the side of the street to the world’s highest towers— aim to fulfill the sacred role of architecture: design people’s lives and lead society to a better environment.
3- The Color of the Buildings Affects Temperatures!
– Did you know that?
In 2011, the association of architects held a conference in Spain, in which several experts discussed how the reflection of solar radiation on the roofs of buildings directly affects the temperature. And it is estimated that it can drop one degree if all the surfaces of Barcelona are painted white.
Doctor Pablo Arnold explained that an individual’s indirect interaction with his environment plays a role in his disease and his recovery from it. It affects the psychological, nervous, and immune systems of the body, as well as, blood pressure and body temperature. The emotional impact of architecture must be taken into account when designing buildings to integrate the most convenient techniques, colors, and building materials.
4- Architecture Affects Your Eating Habits, Too!
The design of cities does not only affect us in terms of the number of kilometers we walk or the time we spend in the car. According to a study by the Observatory of Health and the Environment of Southern Spain, it also brings about changes in our diet, which is a key pillar of different habits in disease prevention.
And now, let’s answer an interesting question, too, which is:
5- What is the Relation Between Building Design and Anxiety?
Several studies of urban residents have shown that designing buildings in cities sometimes affects people who suffer from stress and anxiety and increases nervous pressure. Some studies have shown that changes can affect the grey matter and brain functions of people living in the city, unlike rural areas or other regions. Perhaps the reason is that trees and green spaces help to relax, calm down, and give a feeling of comfort. In 1975, an experiment took place in Vancouver city that was designed so as to allow the residents to enjoy a scenic view of mountains, trees, and green spaces. It was noted that the psychological state of the population changed for the better.
Well, do you think it’s possible to live in a big city yet isolated?
6- Living in a Big yet Isolated City, is it Possible?
Yes, it is. Although the presence of more people in bigger social groups increases the opportunities for interaction and forming relationships, we note that individuals in big cities are less connected and more isolated!
Some researchers attribute the reason for the individual isolation in the cities to the architectural design of cities, which does not help communication between people. Architecture, here, influences the nature of society. These researchers argue that it is the main reason for less sympathetic and affectionate interactions among people. Automatically, this entails the rise of the crime rate! You may have noticed that the number of crimes in cities is higher than that in the countryside.
Also, the more the cities are organized the more it is easier for the person to know his way toward his goal such as New York City, for example—which has a unified arrangement and a one-direction axis in which the architecture of the city is designed to be. In this environment, the individual feels more comfortable than in cities with intersecting roads and overlapping neighborhoods where it is difficult for the individual to reach his destination like London city—which negatively influences the psychological state of humans.
Well, do you know that a seat on the sidewalk may improve your mood! Having a seat in the street increases the comfort and calmness of an individual. People tend to walk on roads other than specific public roads, such as grassland and public parks when they head to any destination in the city.
And, do you also know that The building’s facades also affect the psychological state. Having monotonous facades, such as the external glass facades of some companies, increases anxiety, while people feel more comfortable being around facades with varied elements and textures.
7- The Impact of Architecture on People’s Creativity
In a dark laboratory in Petersburg, Jonas Edward Salk was working on a cure for polio. His progress remained very slow until he moved to an Italian house in Assisi where green, rounded shapes are abundantly spread. It wasn’t too long before he had reached a clear vision to formulate the polio vaccine. Salk was convinced that “lighting” and changing the environment and architectural structure was what motivated his creativity.
By studying the effect of roofs height on the brain’s processing of information, professor Myers Levy of the University of Minnesota concluded from 2007 experiments that a high roof promotes free and more flexible thinking with a tendency toward abstraction while a lower roof helps specific thinking that is more solid and concrete.
According to Myers, the physical limitations that a lower roof can cause make people more accurate and tend to give a realistic point of view. It is, therefore, ideal for operating rooms, for example, while a high roof is ideal for art studios when creativity is required. Scientists are still studying how the inside of a building affects what is inside our minds. However, there is no objection to working on tasks that require accuracy and focus such as rewriting a specific text or solving some algebraic equations, which is appropriate for narrow places with low ceilings and red walls. On the contrary, tasks requiring some imagination, innovation, and holistic thinking are more suitable to work on them in wide, open spaces with high ceilings, many windows, and blue walls.
So, what do you think?
8- What is the Role of Psychologists in Architecture?
As we see, architecture greatly affects society. Therefore, psychology’s imprint must be implemented in the field of architecture. Psychologists can help architects construct more comfortable and attractive buildings, and more importantly, more suitable for the mood of people. For example, one of the tips is that the windows have to be large and easy to open to get more natural light to the house. The level of melatonin in the body raises thanks to that simple tip. And that actually leads to regulating the biological clock and increasing the efficiency of sleep besides increasing the secretion of serotonin, which is the hormone that stimulates the sense of happiness. The innovative design and artistic nature are likable while ensuring not to affect the safety of the building. It is suggested to have spacious well-ventilated spaces. Domed ceilings are also better in terms of psychological impact.
No one disagrees with the impact of architecture on the nature and culture of society. Ancient Egyptian architecture differs from Greek architecture, which also differs from African architecture, for example, because culture and heritage differ from one society to another, and so does the nature of the climate—for example, we find sloping roofs in the cold lands where snowfalls.
9- So, How Does Architecture Affect Society?
The architect is the organizer, the master, the topographer/sociography expert of the society, and the dictator of future mores. The architect observes and takes into account the needs of the moment. His job revolves and will always revolve around the design of a place where individuals feel comfortable and safe.
From these different experiences, we can say for sure that the lines drawn by the architect must be studied based on diverse aspects, not only the special one. Each line that he draws will have a negative or a positive effect on the user of the space, and thus, on society as a whole.