Office design; From the neurotic office to the neuro-office

Neuroarchitecture in office design (9)

Neuroarchitecture psychoanalyses the workplace and shapes office design

"If you don't change, you don't evolve and you end up not thinking any more." Remm Koolhaas

Now, it still seems like science fiction, but we are beginning to consider our brain as a mouldable organ. It shouldn't come as much of a shock to us, since we see from time to time that we are not the same as we were thirty, ten, a year ago... and even, for example, that we are not identical after reading a book or watching a film that moves us. We are constantly evolving and one of the instruments to shape our minds can be the design of our office.

The beginning of the development of neuroarchitecture, i.e. the application of neuroscience to architecture, is difficult to date. However, one of the most explicit early contemporary formulations was that of the architect Richard Neutra, who, in the 1950s, declared that architecture should be oriented towards satisfying the neurological needs of its users.

3XN's New Studio. On the canal in the Holmen district of Copenhagen. Published in Officesnapshots

Alison Whitelaw has argued since 2012 that the quality of the built environment can affect the performance of the brain, so the environment in which you work can influence your emotional state and behaviour. The scientific link between architecture and the study of the brain was expressed through the research of neuroscientist Fred H. Gage who, in 1998 together with Peter Eriksson, alerted the world to the discovery of how the human brain is capable of manufacturing new nerve cells. This would be facilitated by living in a more stimulating environment. With this discovery, he was able to disprove the previously held belief that a human being has a limited number of cells from birth to death.

Fred Gage (2003) presented this discovery at a convention of architects at the American Institute of Architecture. He stated the following idea: changes in the environment change the brain and therefore change our behaviour.

3XN's New Studio. On the canal in the Holmen district of Copenhagen. Published in Officesnapshots

The office environment, and therefore office design, can cause the same thing; the noise, the smell, the confined space, the traffic, are far removed from the original forms of perceptions and emotions within which the original codes of our brain functioning were built. The perception of everything around us invariably produces emotional reactions whether subtle or strong, unconsciously or consciously, to everything we love or despise, and this is the same with buildings as they are an essential part of the everyday surrounding human perception.

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