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The Psychology of Space: Unveiling the Impact of Interiors on Human Behavior

CEO Khai Intela
Co-Working Office / APPAREIL. Image © José Hevia With most of our lives being spent indoors, it's no surprise that the spaces we occupy have a significant influence on our psychological well-being. The field of...

Psychology of Space: How Interiors Impact our Behavior? Co-Working Office / APPAREIL. Image © José Hevia

With most of our lives being spent indoors, it's no surprise that the spaces we occupy have a significant influence on our psychological well-being. The field of environmental psychology, also known as space psychology, delves into the interaction between individuals and the spaces they inhabit. It explores how elements like lighting, colors, configuration, scale, acoustics, and materials can impact our senses and generate a wide spectrum of emotions and behaviors.

Psychology of Space: How Interiors Impact our Behavior? Kiss Kiss Bank Bank's HQ / Agence Vincent & Gloria Architectes. Image © Arnaud Schelstraete

The psychology of space involves studying human relations and behaviors within the context of built and natural environments. As noted by Dave Alan Kopec, a specialist in the field and professor at the New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego, interior design plays a crucial role in shaping our subconscious, emotions, and perceptions. It triggers a unique part of our brain that reacts to the geometry of the space we occupy. While interior design is not the sole determining factor, it undeniably has significant implications. Architects have the responsibility to design tangible solutions that address the social and psychological needs of the occupants.

Psychology of Space: How Interiors Impact our Behavior? Concrete House / BAK Arquitectos. Image © Daniela Mac Adden

In the past, space primarily reflected its functional purpose. People were crammed into box-like spaces to meet the demands of a consumer-oriented society. This approach emerged during the industrial revolution when cities experienced an influx of people. However, the understanding of space and its psychological impact came later. Today, the design of buildings and urban spaces is shifting towards prioritizing the well-being of the occupants.

Psychology of Space: How Interiors Impact our Behavior? McAllen Main Library / MSR Design. Image © Lara Swimmer

According to Dr. Sergio Altomonte, an architect and associate professor at the Nottingham University, buildings and urban spaces should be designed with the occupants' needs in mind. Architecture now plays a key role in promoting physical, physiological, and psychological well-being. Architectural cues can reinforce desired behaviors, and factors such as safety, social connectedness, ease of movement, and sensory stimulation are crucial considerations. Elements like light, colors, art, and ventilation further contribute to the overall ambiance. For example, the principles of design, such as balance, proportion, symmetry, and rhythm, introduce a sense of harmony. Colors have a profound impact as well; warmer tones create a more intimate and compact space, while light can affect mood and productivity. Natural light, in particular, stimulates both production and recovery processes.

Psychology of Space: How Interiors Impact our Behavior? Party Apartment / Nghiêm Phong + Đào Thành. Image © Quang Tran

While some spaces may induce anxiety, others evoke a sense of serenity. Environmental psychology focuses on researching and understanding how individuals interact with their surroundings, even if not all factors are easily discernible. Irving Weiner, an environmental psychology professor, explains that certain environmental influences may not be apparent but significantly impact our behavior and mood.

Psychology of Space: How Interiors Impact our Behavior? Sursock Apartment / platau. Image © Wissam Chaaya

Taking space psychology into account during the design process can lead to enhanced productivity in commercial projects, increased sales in retail environments, and expedited recovery in healthcare facilities. However, explicit guidelines for translating psychological research into architecture remain elusive. The success of implementation depends on the designer's sensitivity, creativity, and understanding of the research. As noted by Alan Hedge, a professor at Cornell University's Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, much of the work in the field is psychological or behavioral, making it challenging to create specific design recommendations.

Psychology of Space: How Interiors Impact our Behavior? House in Mantiqueira / Una Arquitetos. Image © Nelson Kon

In conclusion, design is a complex amalgamation of various factors, just as individuals are complex beings. While architecture can greatly impact our well-being, it cannot shield us from the political circumstances surrounding us. As emphasized by Adrian Lahoud, Dean of the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art, architecture matters, but it cannot completely insulate us from external influences.

Now, it's time to delve deeper into the psychology of space and accompany our architectural designs with a keen understanding of human behavior. By doing so, we can create environments that not only address physical needs but also nurture our psychological well-being.

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