Neuroscience of architecture: emerging contours of a new discipline

Oshin Vartanian and Xueying Shao
in NODES 17-18 →
Environmental psychology is the discipline broadly concerned about how environments impact our feelings, thinking, and behaviour. Because people in industrialized nations spend the majority of their time indoors, much research in this domain has focused on the impact of the physical features of built environments on the psychological states and behaviour of their users. Relatively recently, burgeoning research in the neuroscience of architecture has begun to peer into the brain and related physiological processes to examine how they are influenced by design features of built environments, which can in turn impact how we think, act and feel within and in relation to those spaces. Here we conduct a selective review of this emerging literature, focusing on the impact of physical features of built environments on naïve participants, individuals with formal training and experience in architecture and design, and clinical populations of interest. We argue that empirical findings from neuroscience of architecture have the potential to optimize the design of spaces in which we live and work, and ultimately the health and wellbeing of their occupants.