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Human Response to Physical Structures Essay

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Updated: May 15th, 2020

Human beings are known to react differently to the existing conditions in their lives. These reactions are put together to make up human behavior. Environmental psychology deals primarily with how human beings behave in response to the environment surrounding them.

In our everyday life, physical structures are inevitable; they include both residential and commercial buildings. Every organization requires physical structures in the form of offices as a key resource.

In fact, according to Bottom, McGreal, & Heaney, (1997, p. 195) physical structures play a pivotal role in any organization in terms of facilitating increased productivity and realizing the corporate mission.

Buildings have been known to greatly influence a person’s behavior. Indeed Jonas Salk, an American Scientist credited with inventing the polio vaccine is quoted in the Scientificamerica magazine as having said that he had to drastically change his environment from his dimly lit basement lab in the United States to a 13th century monastery in Assisi Italy to come up with insights to the solution of the polio menace.

Salk was convinced that his inspiration came from the architecture of the columns and cloistered courtyards.

He so believed in the inspiration through architecture so much that he partnered with a renowned architect going by the name Louis Khan to build the Salk institute, a scientific facility that would act as an architectural inspiration to scientific breakthroughs and creations (Anthes, 2009).

A comfortable environment has been reported to boost a person confidence in a great way. Human beings have a tendency to look for things that they can identify with. This suggests that in some way certain environment compliments human behavior.

Unfamiliar environment on the other hand elicits discomfort and curiosity in one stride. This in a way exposes the person in question to learn something new among other experiences.

In both cases, what carries the day is whether or not the environment in question is what the subject prefers. If it’s the preferred environment then the subject will exhibit effective or desired human behavior (Tipton, 2011).

Tipton (2011) goes on to show that lack of preferred environment in regard to both physical structures and social factors could lead to several undesired results. Some of these include physical and emotional disturbances as one tries to regain composure for tasks at hand.

Any effort to remove the stressors to regain control results in more damage or worse still misinterpretation of the current scenario.

After more than fifty years since Salk’s experience behavioral scientists have delved into this field of using architecture to inspire human behavior with a lot of enthusiasm.

Actually it has become such an important field that behavioral scientists are coming up with new space designs that are geared towards certain goals ranging from promoting creativity to helping improve keenness in students.

They are also employing architecture to achieve relaxation and at times elicit social intimacy.

Architectural institutions have not been left behind; some of them have been reported to be offering units in neuroscience.

In San Diego for example, the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture is already encouraging all stakeholders to participate in establishing how planned environments can be used to inspire the mind to think in a certain direction.

Buildings are also known to influence human health in several ways. Sometimes due simple conditions such as the aeration employed in certain buildings.

The presence or absence of windows could lead to an increased exposure to chemicals, high-level noise and even lighting (Veitch, 2008).

Several architectural variations have delivered promising results already. Form the windows to the lighting intensity to the shape of furniture and even the height of ceilings.

Several variances to these have been considered when putting up residences for the senior citizens suffering from dementia as part of the treatment (Anthes, 2009).

In the year 1924, Winston Churchill while addressing the English Architectural Association said that the influence of human behavior by architecture is evident and that as much as human beings design architecture, it does indeed come back to regulate the course of man’s behavior (Lockton, 2011).

Lockton goes on to say that architecture actually influences the way people live their lives whether by default or by design.

Architects have taken advantage of the influence that architecture has on peoples’ lives both consciously and unconsciously and designed buildings with the intention to control people. For instance in the past it was common for companies to divide the physical premises into departmental offices.

This worked to control both movement and communication to achieve maximum output from workers. This trend has however changed considerably since the phenomenal growth in the information technology field, which made communication easy and discrete without moving an inch from your desk.

Due to this changes in information technology, globalization and market blending, organization have adopted a more decentralized approach when it comes to office setting. Most companies have adopted this kind of architecture where anyone can sit anywhere, any day.

Departments share the same physical space without causing any chaos or confusion, thus they are referred to intelligent buildings (Pullen, 2000).

In these modern offices, there are no barriers or designated offices for any one; in case there is any form of demarcation, it is done using transparent glass. Again, architecture has been employed to enhance transparency as nothing is ever done behind closed doors.

This has contributed immensely in cutting down of idling and ensuring corrupt deals do not go on in offices. All in all architecture is employed everyday to influence social interaction for the benefit of mankind.

It could be a restriction of movement due to health related issue or even for other safety reasons such as fires and explosions (Lockton, 2011).

The very first buildings by man were specifically meant for shelter and protection. Later on man discovered that the structures also offered privacy. These were the first residential designs made by man and their purposes were explicit (Loca, 2011). Most often than not residential designs are inspired by the needs, that need to be met.

Thus, they range from cave like primitive structures to the sophisticated bungalows. Dyer (1997) observes that the architecture of a community carries so much history with it and thus a lot of emphasis should be put in place while doing research on buildings.

Apart from writing history several factors need to be considered while putting up either residential or commercial building. Factors like location and the space available are paramount. The importance of considering the suitability of the chosen location for habitation or for the business activity being considered cannot be overemphasized.

Once these factors have been considered, the interior design must not be left behind. For residential houses factors like the partitions required must be remembered. Each room in the house has its requirements and themes that need to be right from the beginning.

The design must also consider the kind of natural calamities that the building would be exposed to in future and the best ways to restrain such environmental stressors (Loca, 2011).

Sustainable development refers to a process whereby we are able to live our lives comfortably without denying the future generations the same advantage.When this is considered in the light of architectural development then several issues arise.

Architecture like most activities of man depletes resources that are not easily replaced. Since we cannot deny the future generations the same opportunity then we must adopt the green approach.

This involves reduction in the amount of energy both embodied and used, reduction of pollution both internal and external and finally minimizing resource depletion and damage to health.

We must put extra effort in ensuring we cause little or no exposure of human beings to hazardous materials.

Conserving rare materials is also equally important and so is minimizing life cycle ecological impact of such materials and energy. In addition the environment where buildings are put up should be left in their natural state in regard to the flora and fauna water and even the air.

Though disturbances are inevitable, the natural setting should be restored. When these steps of highly responsible architectural developments are followed keenly, they result in high quality buildings that have a long life. In addition, these green buildings also cost much less to operate and even maintain.

They offer greater utility and therefore many people prefer them. Developing architecture that conforms to sustainable development standards is a social responsibility that must be honored by all so that we can secure a future for the coming generations.

References

Anthes, E. (2009). . Scientific American. Web.

Bottom, C, McGreal, S and Heaney, G. (1997).”Evaluating office environments Using tenant organization perceptions. Facilities. Vol. XV (11), 1997, 195-203.

Dyer, C. (1997). History and Vernacular Architecture. Vernacular Architecture. (1997). Web.

Lockton, D. (2011). Architecture, urbanism, design and behavior: a brief review. Web.

Loca, G. (2011). Environmental Psychology. Hubpages. Web.

Pullen, W. (2001). “Flexibility in the workplace: Instrumental or creative? The case of the Dutch Government Buildings Agency”. Journal of Corporate Real Estate. Vol. III (2), 121-131. Web.

Tipton, F. J. (2011). WiseGEEK. Web.

Veitch, J. A. (2008). Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne. Vol 49(4), Nov 2008, 281-288. Web.

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