To understand how architecture affects human behaviour, we first need to understand the relationship between humans and the world we live in. Most individuals will agree their state of mind is influenced by their surroundings. A busy street may bring about feelings of excitement or perhaps anxiety. A walk through a forest creates a sense of calm in some, of loneliness in others. Further, urban systems are known to directly correlate with social structures. The design and feel of a neighbourhood both influences and is influenced by those who populate it. When it comes to interior spaces, architecture can evoke a sense of awe, wellbeing or instill the desire to leave a space if it makes us feel unwelcome or uncomfortable.

Our Buildings Make Us

Architects have long been aware of the connection between architecture and human behaviour. American architect Frank Lloyd Wright believed that architecture could inspire individuals to behave in a more wholesome manner. French urban planner Le Corbusier claimed his buildings could heal illnesses. While these claims haven’t always proved to be true, they show that one of the core principles of design is the strong tie between buildings and the human experience. As former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill said in 1924, “we make our buildings and afterwards they make us.”

 

A Welcoming Space

Because of this undeniable connection, four of the American Institute of Architects’ key focus areas directly relate to creating a positive atmosphere. A well-designed building must allow an individual to feel safe from harm and connected to others, have the ability to freely move around offer an appropriate amount of sensory stimulation. Given that we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, it is paramount that our interiors provide us with welcoming spaces that simultaneously inspire us and allow us to be just as we are.

The Psychology of Colour

One branch of environmental psychology is dedicated solely to the study of colour and how it impacts human behaviour. Karen Haller, a leading authority on colour psychology, has thoroughly studied the use of white in office spaces and found that while many architects are drawn to white because it simplifies a space and reduces distractions, white offices can, in fact, lead to feelings of coldness, sterility, and isolation. Organizations such as Google have taken the opposite route and use bold and bright colours within their office spaces in an attempt to stimulate creativity and increase productivity.

 

Just the Beginning

Colour is just the beginning when it comes to purposefully influencing human behaviour through architecture. The type of materials, the amount of light, whether a space is opened or closed, whether there are places to sit – all of these design options play an integral role in how a finished building affects the people who use it. These concepts also extend to outdoor public spaces and exteriors. A park full of benches will be more welcoming than one without any. A building with a glass facade lets those passing by know it has ample natural light.  

Finishes to Inspire

At Cadillac Coatings, we recognize the importance of each detail within the design process. Buildings are designed for people – people who should be surrounded by colours, materials and textures that help them feel both engaged and at ease. That’s why our powder paint comes in every conceivable colour variant. That’s also why our patented powder coating process works with a wide variety of materials and offers multiple textured finishes. Finish work may be just one piece of the architectural puzzle, but it’s a piece that can directly influence an individual’s wellbeing. And we think that’s pretty important.