Architects are Becoming the New Psychiatrists

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Robison Wells
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It’s an old axiom in business that you must understand the minds of your employees, but that is being taken to the next level in architecture, where architects are being forced to envision a world of the future.

“Today our buildings need to do more than just provide shelter, they also need to be an ally in creating environments that enhance the human experience by understanding human behavior and responding in a way that encourages positive interaction,” HKS President and CEO Dan Noble said.

It's something that architect John Orfield calls the “Starbucks-ization” of the workplace and communities. “People neither want to work from home, nor from the traditional office environment—but rather somewhere in between.”

Architects are trying to make work spaces more welcoming to these employees, to be “soothing balms” for visitors inside commercial properties.

Two of these soothing balms are things fundamental to our evolutionary nature: fire and water. Both water features and fires become gathering places for people to congregate and tell stories. "Those two things add a subliminal appeal to people because water is an essential part of our anatomy; it’s what we need to keep alive. Fire is a comfort zone … it’s where the tribe goes to start telling stories.”

The third part of this pyramid is sunlight, which is subconsciously craved as any employee under rows and rows of fluorescent lights can tell you.

Whether it be office buildings, retail outlets, or even stadiums and parks, water, fire, and sunlight are poised to make a big break into more future architecture, as architects dig into the human brain for insight.

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