APPLYING NEUROSCIENCE TO INDUSTRIAL ARCHITECTURE

NEUROSCIENCE

Meaning:

As the term indicates, Neuroscience is the science related to the nervous system.

According to Macmillan Publishers Limited (2015), Neuroscience is a multidisciplinary science that is concerned with the study of the structure and function of the nervous system. It encompasses the evolution, development, cellular and molecular biology, physiology, anatomy and pharmacology of the nervous system, as well as computational, behavioural and cognitive neuroscience.

It refers to any or all of the sciences, such as neurochemistry and experimental psychology, which deal with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain.

 

Architecture and Science:

As stated by Alex Brown the various branches of science, from physics to biology, cognitive studies, systems theory and artificial intelligence (AI), cybernetics and computer engineering offer examples and analogies to processes operating within architecture.

These are of essentially two kinds: those such as AI and computer engineering which deal with the design process. For instance, identifying or mapping networks of relationships and hierarchies within the institution to be represented as a building. In case of an industry, there is a manager, a head of the department, then we have trainers, facilitators and supervisors. Further we have labourers and next on the hierarchy chart are the technicians, house keepers and security. Now each of these require a different kind of space for working. The theory is that these ‘scientific’ techniques allow the architect to be more accurate in the design of the organization.

Another kind includes sciences such as physics, biology or general systems theory that provide examples of architectures as ‘systems’ or ‘organisms’ in terms of system-environments, behaviour, cybernetic feedback, field theory (space-time perception) and others. These suggest examples of how social institutions like architecture might operate.

 

INDUSTRIAL ARCHITECTURE

Meaning:

Industrial architecture implies the construction of various industry buildings.

According to the Urban Dictionary, Industrial architecture refers to structures and buildings such as factories, furnaces, power plants, manufacturing facilities, heavy-duty pipes, etc. Industrial architecture also describes the features and appearance of these industrial structures. Buildings of industrial architecture are usually found in scattered areas inside or outside the outer fringes of a city, or amassed in a large designated area known as an industrial park.

Architecture and Industry:

The intersection between architecture and industry has provided a rich and evolving source for both historians and practicing architects throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

When considering works such as Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer’s Fagus Factory (1911) and Gropius’s subsequent Bauhaus (1926) it is clear that the aesthetic and formal outcomes of early industrial architecture played a large role in development of early Modern architecture.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Earnest Wilby set the standard for large-scale “Fordist” production complexes in the United States and worldwide. While in Germany, Peter Behrens’s designs for industry, such as his AEG Turbinenfabrik (1909), marked a turning point in architectural history from Beaux-Arts and classically inspired interpretations of the needs of industry, towards a more substantial reinterpretation of the changing functional demands, new building technologies and their formal corollaries, as stated by Mathew Aitchison.

With its forms reducing process to the strictly necessary, the industrial building started to serve as a Modern Architecture reference. Such buildings became fundamental for the modern architectural rationale, to the point where industrial machines and equipment inspired architects as Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier.

The building techniques advances, starting in the 19th century, involved not only the application of materials but also of building processes, which consisted both of the constructive element pre-fabrication, and also of their assemblage schemes. The construction became a large system, articulating other subsystems. Parts of the buildings gradually started to be produced off the building site and assembled there. This dynamics characterized the mechanization of the building industry by preparing its main elements industrially. Technical advancements made it possible to use glass as a building material and in turn lead to better transparency and naturally lit spaces.

 

APPLICATION OF NEUROSCIENCE TO ARCHITECTURE

John P. Eberhard says that most people think of architecture as a profession concerned with aesthetic beauty, designs that please the observer through visual perception of the harmony, symmetry, and good proportions crafted by the designer. But, architecture is more than aesthetics.

Well-designed buildings need to respond to the functional needs of the occupants, and users need to be provided with adequate lighting, well-modulated heating and cooling systems, structural soundness, and public safety provisions (i.e., entrances and exits, stairways, etc.). Over the time more importance is being given to the functionality of a building than its appearance, hence while designing the primary thing kept in mind is the users. All of these attributes are now evaluated in physical science terms.

If we expand the horizon for neuroscience, it would eventually result in a new knowledge base for architecture. As explained by Haya El Nasser, the role of neuroscience in architecture is a contemporary concept that attaches scientific proof, measurement and research to the design of buildings. Science shows that environment can modulate the function of genes and, ultimately, the structure of the brain. So if changes in the environment change behaviour of humans, architectural design can change it too. Little green spaces can be introduced to allow the workers to relax from their exhausting schedule. “It is scientifically proven that access to nature and green environments yields better cognitive functioning, more self-discipline and impulse control, and greater mental health overall.”, explains Professor Frances Kuo.

Most visitors to one of the great cathedrals of Europe are overwhelmed with the “beauty” of the interior setting on first entering the nave- in fact, cathedrals are designed with a narthex (entry way) that is small to prepare our minds for the awe inspiring experience that follows as we enter the nave. If an organ is also playing as we enter, this music will be included in the dispositional memory record we create. Visual, auditory, and emotional content are merged in our consciousness. The sounds of the music being played will be included in the memory we recall on our next visit to a cathedral.

Dispositions are described by Damasio in his book The Feeling of What Happens (Damasio, 1999). He indicates that dispositions are records that are “dormant and implicit.” When we return to a previous locale once recorded in a disposition, we allow it to make explicit the stored implicit information. We recall not just our sensory experience during the previous visit, but our past emotional reactions.

John P. Eberhard states that our sense of awe is influenced, in part, by having space above our head that is not visible until we move our eyes upward. Semir Zeki once suggested that raising our eyes upward to see a spire on a cathedral was transformative, it stirs some primal notions of something ethereal.

Also, the sensitivity of our suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) to light-driving the circadian rhythms influences our alertness. The play of light and shadow may trigger the SCN to “play with alertness” in a way that we find stimulating.

The hush of nature deep in the woods provides a “quiet” experience for our auditory cortex that could be soothing, which suggests that the sense of “quiet” experienced by urban dwellers may be more soothing (because of the ambient noise where they live) than the experience of rural dwellers.

 

The five areas studied in brain systems are:

  • Sensation and Perception (how do we see, hear, smell, taste, etc.?)
  • Learning and Memory (how do we store and recall our sensory experiences?)
  • Decision making (how do we evaluate the potential consequences of our actions?)
  • Emotion and affect (how do we become fearful or excited? or what makes us feel happy or sad?)
  • Movement (how do we interact with our environment and navigate through it?)

In his book Brain Landscape (2009), Eberhard discusses hypotheses and their potential utilisation in graduate research. For instance:

  • The brain is hard-wired to respond to proportions based on the golden mean (as illustrated by the architect Palladio)
  • A distributed set of brain activities across the entire brain—including the cerebral cortex, the cerebellum, the basil ganglia, the amygdala, and the midbrain—work together to yield a special sense of awe (as in Thorncrown Chapel)
  • Facilities for the aging that allow residents to furnish rooms with their personal furniture provide support for episodic memory through links to their autobiographical past

Somewhere deep in the recesses of consciousness, the way we go about shaping designs and the way we conceive solutions to neuroscience hypotheses are similar and basic. These basic networks that distinguish humans from other species are a shared mystery.

If neuroscientists imaginatively utilize the scientific process to study the brain they can find new knowledge of value. We spend more than 90% of our waking hours inside of buildings. It consequently seems appropriate to consider making a special effort to encourage doctoral and postdoctoral students in neuroscience programs to undertake research programs and projects related to hypotheses derived from the ANFA studies of architectural experiences.

 

STUDY: WINERY IN OIRY, GIOVANNI PACE ARCHITECTE

Archdaily highlights some features of the architectural masterpiece, The Winery in Oiry

  • Comfortable working conditions for staff in this monumental space of 66,000 cubic metres under beams are ensured by a temperature which varies between 12°C and 19°C.
  • The transparency of the walls is obtained by means of structural silicone glazing 1.50 m wide by 4.50 m high.
  • A building which interacts with its surroundings through its transparency and its clearly visible lines of composition.
  • The Fermentation Room is a continuation of the flowing lines of the vine-covered hillsides which slope down from the Château de Saran. This inclined plane at human height offers a welcoming perspective.
  • Working in a high-quality space worthy of that house means, in a sense, receiving ongoing recognition for that work. On the Fermentation Room’s lower level, beneath walkways, all the workspaces are naturally lit.

Research proves that bringing in enough natural light boosts serotonin (a compound present in blood platelets and serum, which constricts the blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter) and in turn affects the mood of a person. According to Gropius, the factory should be a kind of place for the workers who were offered light, air and hygienic atmosphere but also “feel the dignity of the great common idea, which of course would improve their performance”.

 

RESULTS

“Understanding the power and significance of design is not a luxury,” Edelstein said. “It has a direct impact on wellness issues and a direct influence on activity within that space.” For example, science has proved that natural lighting stimulates positive brain function and helps students learn. “Visual access to sky, trees and landscape stimulates brain function,” Dougherty said.

  • Green environments yields better cognitive functioning, more self-discipline and impulse control, and greater mental health overall.
  • The hush of nature deep in the woods provides a “quiet” experience for our auditory cortex that could be soothing.
  • The play of light and shadow triggers our suprachiasmatic nuclei that plays with our alertness in a way that is found stimulating.
  • Familiar set-ups are capable to trigger our episodic memory, dispositions that have been dormant for a long time.

 

CONCLUSION

Hence, keeping neuroscience in mind we must consider the following features while designing an industrial building;

  • Adequate amount of natural light that helps boost serotonin.
  • Hygienic atmosphere and proper ventilation for greater mental and physical health.
  • Noise free, empty spaces to rest, away from the heavy and noisy machines.
  • Pollution free zones and green belts around the site for better cognitive functioning of workers and as a compensation for the deterioration of the environment.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

 

 

 

  • John P. Eberhard (ed.) (2009) Brain Landscape: The Coexistence of Neuroscience and Architecture.

 

 

 

 

 Dhruvi Gosar

Architecture Student at Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Architecture

Navi Mumbai, India

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