Architecture without beauty

Written by Dave Ejera on June 27, 2018

Let’s try this!

While reading, you may listen to this as a background . This is just a short test. You need full concentration in order to create deep connection between you and the image. Let’s start!

Relax, be present and imagine yourself in the following picture, living in a ruined world where the idea of beauty is slowly dying. Humans now live in a devastated environment. Immerse yourself for about 15 to 20 seconds in the picture. Pause and feel what you see. How do you feel if this will happen to us right now?

© Nicholas Hiatt

Bad Architecture produces same feeling in the picture shown. Sadness, depression, stress, all these are negative emotion that affects us. Of course in reality this will not happen every day. But our experience of negative environment in unappealing and boring architecture is alarming. These could be the places where we go eat, sleep, where we work or even our own room. Some people may not feel good, uncomfortable and emotionally affected inside these spaces.

Unfortunately, most of us got used to it. Probably because we are busy or might think that beauty is not essential in our life. And other people say that it’s just for decoration: unimportant and useless. But how about those jewelries and accessories in our outfits? Have you not questioned the purpose of these things? Those beautiful and favorite clothes you wear? That summer vacation in Samal Island that you planned for a long time for your family and spend money just to be on that place?

The feelings we get will be reflected to our body gestures and changes our mood. Good day may turn bad. Simple yet we may not notice that we are already consumed by it. What we see affects us, our body, brain and heart.

Let us explore more and see the value and importance of architectural aesthetics to people. How these feelings while experiencing the beauty of architecture benefits you and me.

Emotionally unhealthy Architecture

Can you imagine the effects to people living in a dull environment? The worst thing is to live on these places for a long time and accept that it’s normal. The accumulation of these things in a long run can lead to mental, behavioral and health problems. Almost every day we experience these aesthetically unappealing architecture. It’s out of our control and difficult to manage. In some places architectural aesthetics are not openly acknowledged by the city. They prefer practical solutions than giving attention to beauty and designs. Money, economy, family status these are just some of the factors that they consider. This is because of course putting priority on food and medicine. These are physical needs, but how about emotional needs? One of the common reasons that we mostly hear in promoting architectural aesthetic is the accepted impression that beauty is only for pleasure, luxury, and practicaly irrelevant. This is why it became less a priority in some places in the world. The result, built environments are slowly becoming generic, over-abused and duplicated.

Sketched by: Dave Ejera

According to scientific studies, the spaces where we are in truly affects us. They are now able to measure the neuro-scientific and physiological benefits when user is experiencing beauty that contributes to our well-being and healing. The individual aesthetic enjoyment can be investigated using brain imaging experiments. Surroundings influences our thoughts, feelings and our health. Unmanageable negative environment will lead to stress and if aggravated, even thoughts of death or suicide. On the whole, mentally and emotionally suffering inhabitants, are products of a miserable society.

Effects of boring architecture and dreary environment

Several studies done by scientist explain the effects of boring architecture to humans. All have the same result that these boredom we feel, even in small doses can generate stress. Mayo Clinic on their website states that stress affects our health and behavior and this will lead to serious health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure diabetes and obesity.

The two psychologist Colleen Merrifield and James Danckert on the article written by Jacoba Urist entitled “The Psychological Cost of Boring Buildings”. Conducted an experiment, ask a people to watch the three videos and wear electrodes. This is to find out how they respond psychologically. These videos categorized as sad, boring and interesting. In these three, boring video made people increase heart rate and cortisol level compared to sad video.

Women’s Health Network said that cortisol has natural rhythm and when gone wrong it affects our body and can cause health problems like hair and skin problems, weakened ability to fight infection, loss of muscle and bones. This will also lead to mood swing, depression and sleeplessness.

Beauty in architecture has a purpose.

One of these, is to uplift feelings of people, make us feel good and happy. It gives hope and inspirations to our lives and raise our vibrational emotion to higher level. According to Beverly Blanchard, a spiritual Intuitive and personal coach, our “e-motions” are actually energy in motion and they are vibrations which are actually fueling our thought and words. Architecture should not be only sustainable, functional and energy saving. It must also be beautiful. We forget that we have our inner self that also needs nourishment. A positive architecture that feeds our mind and heart.

Effects of stress on your behavior

  • Angry outburst
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Abuse of alcohol and drug
  • Social withdrawal
  • Tobacco use

Effects of stress on your mood

  • Anger or irritability
  • Sadness and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation

Effects of stress on your health

  • Change in sex drive
  • Sleep problems
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Stomach upset

source: Mayo Clinic

Benefits of beautiful Architecture

1. Architectural aesthetic provides mediation

Sketched by Dave Ejera

This is your brain on Beautiful Architecture. This article written by Becky Chung said that beautiful architecture can provide deeper moments of personal reflection according to fMRI study as shown in the picture. This means that by contemplating to beautiful architecture is like a meditation. Looking thoughtfully to form, shape and decorations of building for a long time gives us a good feeling and induces emotional reflection. It brings us to a point where we achieve an emotionally calm state and to be mentally clear. Many doctors are actually promoting meditation as a part of their medication as this reduces stress, depression and anxiety.

2. Architectural aesthetic is therapeutic

In some places like hospital, they include different types of therapy. By comparing patients in a hospital, one window view is a brick wall and other view is a grove trees. Roger S. Ulrich published this study entitled “View through a window may influence recovery from surgery”. The patient who has experienced nature view gets a shorter recovery period and had positive evaluation from nurses ( Beautiful architecture provides healing through the work of our senses, brain and heart connection. Studies shows that brain and heart works together in producing emotion. The information is collected by our brain which is produced by our senses that affects our body.

Providing beautiful experience for ourselves is beyond luxury. It is inner healing. So have that time to enjoy beautiful places like visiting Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright. Go out and have some coffee, sit on a soft couch with the perfect lighting and beautiful interior paired with alluring smell of your favorite double shot espresso. Or have some trip in calming resorts to unwind while enjoying the sunset at the beach.

3. Beautiful architecture can turn into profit and wonderful memories

Concepts like architectural phenomenology design is a strategy that intends to promote a unique experience of the phenomena of space, light and form that impacts human senses that is studiously applied by conscious architects. Through this, our spatial experience becomes a memorable encounter. When building becomes brilliant it will be loved and remembered by people. Remarkable architecture can be appreciated and noticed by different group or individuals. The best thing could happen is when it becomes iconic. This becomes a tourist destination. Eventually creating business opportunity that will provide jobs in the future.

The degrading value of architectural beauty, lets fix the world we live in.

Today, beauty is bit by bit left out in architecture. Buildings are becoming intelligent and sustainable yet aesthetics is forgotten. Nothing is enirely wrong about it and there is no doubt that people benefit a lot on this concept implemented in architecture. Making our life easy, economical and physically healthy. I am not in opposition on these excellent ideas. But what about our emotional needs? Is not this also necessary? Choosing functionality over beauty is definitely not the root of drab architecture. There are still many great architecture in the world that are successfully made and functional, yet at the same time beautiful. Remember that if hideous architecture is built, this becomes immovable and permanent. It will be experienced by people for a long period of time. It takes many years to reconstruct and also expensive, in that this will require huge money and time.

How can I help to restore the value of beauty in architecture?

1. Start from our self - It’s all up to us and it’s our choice. If we want to continue to experience these emotionally unhealthy spaces. If we have this pure concern, interest, willingness and empathy of changing the old world we live in and uplift the emotions of humanity. Everything will be easy, not forced, no bias.

2. Understanding the law of vibration - according to scientific studies everything in our universe is energy and is explained all in science, through Quantum Physics. Emotions that we feel like appreciation, excitement and happiness are high vibrational frequencies according to this article. When we go deeper on sub-atomic level, matter do not exist, it’s a pure energy or what they call, Unified Field or The Matrix. Everything vibrates and moves in the universe, nothing rests. Remember that humans are made of cells, that are made of atoms, and made of particles and these particles are only vibrating energy. Each atom is a probability of a wave and what we call physical matter is made up of empty space. (Source)

3. Realize the value and importance of beauty - By knowing the mental, physical and emotional benefits and how our aesthetic enjoyment and neurology works in contributing a better and positive life. Then you have that drive to pursue to change the old beliefs that “beauty is nonsense”.

4. Look for the right professionals - There’s no other professional that is knowledgeable in space planning and aesthetic design that studies the relationship between human and spaces than Architects and Designers. They are the only ones who can do such things. Designing building or spaces is not an overnight activity. Architects and designers spend a lot of time in creative contemplation and thinking of innovation to make your home or structures functional, strong and beautiful. This what we are paying for, their creativity. They translate it to plans then build for us to live better. Architects and designers not only draws and gives creative ideas, but they offer practical solutions

5. Let them work for you - After hiring the right professional, let them do the work. Clients will undergo interview by an architect, she will ask your current needs, wants and future plans. After the interview, the architect will do studies which includes space analysis and planning, aesthetic design, structural and utility studies. But this will not only run once, it will take days and even months usually for big projects to come up with a final result.

6. Listen to their advice - Architects will present these to clients and explain the concept of the proposal to you. Let them explain first, ask later and listen to what they say. Take note that your building will be your home for the rest of your life. They design your home according to your lifestyle and needs which reflects you.

Beauty is not just for visual effects and definitely not a simple accessory. It has purpose. This positive feeling brings us to positive outlooks in life. It gives us a lighter disposition in our mental, emotional beings and physical bodies, truly an uplifting energy that we all need.