Architecture has been part of human life, arguable from the beginning of human existence and it has evolved and flourished alongside many civilizations. Why is it that humans are so focused on making buildings so aesthetic pleasing. Perhaps its important to look at the fact that Architecture has evolved in a similar fashion as art. It is no surprising that when we look at architecture the same regions of the brain are activated.
Just as art has the ability of producing an emotional reaction, so does architecture epically if it is compared to landscapes. When viewing both landscapes and buildings the amygdala, hypothalamus, basal forebrain, and prefrontal cortex are activated. Scientist know this from PET scans that were preformed on people while they were viewing art, landscapes, and architecture. A 2003 study asked people to rate art they were only able to see for a few seconds. They were allowed to rate the paintings as “ugly”, “beautiful”, “neutral”, after the viewing they were placed in an fMRI and were shown the same pictures again. The people who viewed paintings were beautiful their orbito-frontal cortex was activated and those that viewed it as ugly their motor cortex was activated. Perhaps this could be because if a person views something as ugly it might make they are afraid of it, causing the person so quickly flee the scene. This is important especially when a 2008 study showed that decision-making in the prefrontal cortex and parietal cortex can take place up to 10 seconds before we are even aware of our decision. Which indicates the possibility that we have already made judgments before we are even aware of it.
Architects having been taking advantage of our emotional side since the late 1700’s when architects would gather and discuss how their work is able to evoked an emotional response. And recently an art gallery in London where an architecture allows its viewers to experience up close her work. The goal of her gallery is for people to feel certain emotions by allowing the audience to use all of their senses. This technique allows the architects to more easily convey the idea that he or she wants to world to experience.
Another technique that the architects use is memory. By bringing up a memory through their piece they are able to evoke an emotion that is associated with that memory. An example of this is creating a piece with curves. This allows the brain to recall memories with curves that may be followed by pleasant emotion the viewer felt in the past. They also use the idea of familiarity, if the viewer has seen something similar or sees something that reminds them of a past memory the piece will be more pleasing. The sharper the memory the greater the impact of the piece will have on the viewer. In 2013, Buzsaki proposed that mechanism of memory evolved from mechanisms of navigation, and he also said that both spatial navigation and memory brain areas are very close together. There is an evolutionary advantage for humans to remember places and be able to better survive. Architects use this as well to more readily summon memories: It also allows for certain pieces to be more memorable and hence more pleasing.
Another big aspect of Architecture is the usage of metaphors. Many times they create buildings to convey a message and they do it by making their piece into a visible metaphor. Although there is not a lot of information V.S. Ramachandran believes that creative people, like architects, are more likely to develop synesthesia which is a neurological disorder in where one sense is perceived as different senses or when an object like numbers, letters, shapes are perceived as colors or flavors. According to Ramachandran it is caused by hyper connectivity. Researchers believe that The temporal and parietal lobes, the angular gyrus of the TPO junction are hyper connected which is why the brain can not distinguish between an object and color, for example.This becomes important, because the angular gyrus has been shown to be important in the formation of metaphors.Because many architects use metaphors in their pieces of work it could be possible that they do might have some hyper connecitivty in their brain that allows them to create pieces of work that are able to convey so many ideas, memories and emotions.
Much of the neuroaesthetics research that is happening revolves around art or music and very little is being focused on architecture, but I argue that there needs to be an increase in attention to architecture, because we still know very little about it and there is potential for us to learn a great deal about this form of art.