The impact of architecture on our lives

Posted by on Mar 4, 2013 in Blog, Opinion | 2 Comments


Most of us take for granted the impact architecture plays in our lives, yet nearly every moment of every day is influenced by it. You are constantly in and surrounded by buildings, and these spaces affect how you feel. A dark space can leave you feeling cold, dampening your mood. The size and layout of a space can affect your ability to undertake a task. In contrast we all have experienced a beautiful space, admiring and appreciating it, and with that felt joy in occupying it for that time.

How is it then that buildings and their spaces have such an effect on us? It’s because we are visual creatures, programmed to judge and assess our surrounds to determine if we perceive a threat. This happens both on a conscious and sub-conscious level. Our survival depends on it; more so when we were primitive creatures living in the wild. Since evolving from the cave to the built environments we have created for ourselves today, our assessment of our surrounds has evolved to be more often about judgment, not necessarily of a threat but the effect a space or our surrounds has on our mood. Here are some examples to explain this better.

I’ll begin with the scenario of doing business. When walking into an office for the first time, we will analyse the space before the meeting takes place. Prior to any words being spoken, our first impressions and feelings of what we might expect begins instantaneously, as the space communicates to us about this organisation. How? The style and fit-out of the office begins to influence our judgment: is this an organisation we can trust, are they credible? If the office has a beautiful fit-out we will be thinking they are professional, and yet fearful that this is going to make a significant dent to our bank balance. Walk into an office that looks as it did in the 70’s – timber paneled walls, cheap old chairs in the reception, mess and clutter on display, and you are instead thinking backyarder; what am I doing here?

And so it goes in retail. A shop front, what it presents and the way it does so, will determine if you enter or not. It’s a glimpse of what the shop is about. Does it grab your attention, and entice you in, or do you walk on?

Upon walking into someone’s house you may consider: is it tidy, is the furniture in a style you consider dated, or is it covered in protective plastic? You are judging, it’s what we do, and it’s unavoidable. Whilst to some of us a mess is ok and others not, and there is no right or wrong, there is however always judgment. How we process and what we make of that depends on the individual. However, what ever your conclusion, it affects your mood. Do I feel comfortable here, safe, in awe, etc?

With your house or office, put in the effort to make a space that will enrich your time in it by uplifting your mood. Coming home to a beautiful house is something we all dream of for this reason, yet it does not have to cost a fortune. For me personally, I can’t afford a flashy house at this point, however my furniture, artwork and possessions I have collected over time which are on display, are things that make me smile to look at. I love being in my space. If it’s your business premises, take pride and consider what you want to communicate, but also how comfortable is it for your staff? Their well-being and mood affects your business’ success, it’s not something to skimp on.

Don’t underestimate the power of design, because it effects you and those around you. Appreciate and invest in it, and you will gain so much from it. Take a few moments this week to consider what’s around you and how it effects you. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


  1. Cinthia
    March 24, 2016

    I appreciate this article. I have an architecture background. What drove me to the field was the understanding of how spaces affect our state of mind, how spaces can make us feel in certain ways. I was fascinated by the possibility of being able to create spaces that would enhance human experience

    • Darren Naftal
      Darren Naftal
      March 29, 2016

      Thanks Cinthia. My final year thesis at university was on the affect architecture has on the human experience. Now with 19 years experience as an architect, that topic is still what fascinates me the most.


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