Beautiful Spaces - making us healthier and happier

“When successful, architecture allows for participation in meaningful action, conveying to the participant an understanding of his or her place in the world…it opens up a clearing for the individual’s experience of purpose.”

- Alberto Perez-Gomez, Director of History and Theory of Architecture at McGill University

Research demonstrates that beauty, more specifically beautiful spaces, produce a positive emotional experience in the observer, enhancing feelings of joy and well-being. Taking the role of beauty into account when considering design and architecture is crucial to its success as an experienced space. Beautifully designed spaces open up the way for people to feel engaged, included, and in a space that’s conducive to their feelings of health and positive sense of community.

What exactly does beauty contribute to health? Research also shows that there is a relationship between the perception of beauty and the impact of design on human health, well-being, and even behavior. This is the study of neuroaesthetics, which examines the psychological effects of beauty and aesthetics from the perspective of neuroscience. The research demonstrates that design with deliberate intention to incorporate beauty is actually imperative to human psychological well-being and has positive effects on learning, social behavior and emotional wellness. This proves that beauty plays a significant role in the mental health of building occupants. It grounds us in our environments, which perpetuates a shared sense of community, and in turn, heightens our feelings of calmness and emotional well-being.  

Creating spaces that incorporate beauty in the design are integral to perpetuating a work/play-place culture that enhances human health and wellness.

Because beauty is rather subjective, it is vital to define what beauty means in a design context.

“Beauty is not aesthetics alone. Instead, beauty is the melding of functionality and aesthetics in just the right proportions to achieve the desired result.”

This must involve being fluid and constantly adapting design to incorporate and reflect different populations or communities and their specific cultural values and contexts.  For example, using design elements that represent regional perspectives helps honor the history of the local community.

The goal for architects/designers is to create beautiful environments that adapt to local contexts, meet user needs and positively impact occupants. A well-designed space is not just something that individuals move through, but rather a key influence on occupant health, happiness and overall sensory experience.