Bostadens arkitektur och berikad miljö
Doctoral thesis, 2019
Residential Architecture and Enriched Environments
The importance of the physical environment to human health is a subject of growing interest and research. One way to understand this link is through the concept of enriched environments. The concept has long served as a model for studying the positive effects the environment can have on mental health by effecting structure and function of the brain through stimulation. Enriched environments are characterized by offering a higher degree of multi-sensory stimulation through a combination of sensorimotor or cognitive stimulation and socialization. The scientific evidence for enriched environments from animal models is clear. However, there is still limited evidence and scientific definitions needed for a corresponding model for humans. They are to an even larger degree lacking in the context of the home.
The thesis addresses the issue how residential architecture can constitute an enriched environment through multisensory stimulation. The aim has been to formulate a series of studiable concepts that all touch on aspects of residential architecture, primarily focusing on architectural attributes in relation to cognitive stimulation and stress reduction, acknowledging that enriched environments can contribute to the development and enhancement of cognitive performance or to counteract the negative effects of various stressors also for healthy individuals.
The research approach is based on five separate studies that have informed one another in a successive development of knowledge in which theory and empirical material are interwoven and interpreted using the following methods: mapping review, semantic concept analysis, architectural analyses through figurative empirics and in-depth interviews with residents, and with architects.
The findings show three main areas with associated subgroupings of concepts and architectural attributes of the home: Spatial extension, Movement, and Materials and detailing.
A. Spatial extension
Spatial extension comprises diverging and converging views, variation and events in views, horizontal and vertical views, and the interface where the interior and exterior of the home meet.
Views in multiple directions can create a feeling of spaciousness. Contrast and variation in the character of the views provides stimulation and a complexity of experience, but also a feeling of spaciousness. The design of the interface between the home and its surroundings, and the link between that interface and the interior rooms of the home, create the conditions for a feeling of security and control.
Movement refers to the importance of variation, rhythm, and the passage between the home and its surroundings in the design.
The various aspects of movement are important to different experiences such as variation and complexity as well as freedom, spaciousness, and stimulation.
C. Materials and detailing
Materials and detailing refers to Abstract touch and Association.
Of importance is care in the selection of materials, the execution of the construction, and the way different materials come together and details are designed. But also how different materials, surfaces, and even forms work together through various sensory impressions to create a total experience. Association addresses how we can be positively impacted by materials or art when they connect us with meaningful aspects of, for example, nature.
The formulated concepts can be studied further through a multidisciplinary approach using both qualitative and quantitative methods focusing on factors such as stress reduction, control and motivation.
materials and detailing