Architecture and Health: How Spaces Can Impact Our Emotional Well-Being

August 5th in Brazil is National Health Day. Many of our readers have already voiced their opinions on the importance of psychology in creating healthy, pleasant places to live in. We decided to investigate the effects of spatial experience on individual well-being, quality of life, and mental stress. Architecture not only affects our physical health by ergonomics, but also impacts our emotional comfort.

While professionals in this field know how to design healthier environments, such as natural ventilation, lighting, noise control systems and a good selection of materials and furniture, few have an in-depth understanding of the psychology of spaces and how it can impact human behavior and mental well-being.

Together Hostel / Cao Pu Studio. Image © Zhang Zheming

There are many key strategies that can be used to increase coworkers’ wellbeing in workspaces. Flexible furniture and spaces can allow for more creativity, and help to make work more enjoyable by optimizing the spatial experience of each individual. It is important to create spaces that allow interaction and also provide isolation so that people can find the right space for their particular activity. Biophilia, the healing and calming effects that the color green has on people, and the creation and maintenance of outdoor spaces play an important role in improving the space’s quality, which, in turn, improves their moods and health.

Using wood and plants in the interior. Image © Dilanka Bandara

This applies to urban areas as well as interiors. We can start by asking how public space affects mental health. Then we can explore the psychology of scale to see how buildings and people interact with each other. Jan Gehl says that comfort and wellbeing are closely linked to the way city structure and space interact with the human body, human sensory systems, and space dimensions and scale. It is important to note that healthy cities require a balance between urban planning, public health, and trees as public infrastructure. Numerous studies have proven that plants can reduce the incidence of heart disease, depression, and asthma.

Children's Playspace / Architensions. Image © Cameron Blaylock