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The Argument for the Role of Psychology in Architecture


Few things affect how you feel more than your surroundings.  But when people want to create spaces, they generally turn to architects, not psychologists.  But some experts recently met in Austin to argue that both disciplines need  a place at the table when it comes to designing the spaces we inhabit. 

To understand why, consider the office cubicle, says Prof. Sam Gosling from UT’s Psychology Department.

With the cubicle “they have designed essentially caves, except you have your back to the door and your facing inwards,” he said.

When given the choice almost anyone would prefer the opposite, a space with walls around them but a clear view out.  

Earlier this month a conference organized by Gosling asked why. Why is psychology not better integrated into architecture when psychologists know a lot about how design impacts people's psyches?

Part of it, he believes, comes down to communication between one group that’s based in the world of science and one that’s based more in the world of aesthetics.  

“Architects and psychologists, are just coming from such different places in the world that they don’t really talk to each other,” he said.

If they do, he believes, architects can learn more about how to create buildings that nurture us, and psychologists can learn more about how the spaces we move through can impact our inner landscape. 

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.
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