Topic for Debate
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Discussion of the relationship between Neuroscience, Design, and Architecture is emerging, and several attempts are undertaken to establish links?

For Brain and Architecture??
How the brain experiences architecture, and how the five senses of a human being sense then perceive space?

For Brain and Design??
How the brain works during the act of design? How different mental processes occur in the mind of a designer?

Perhaps this would be an interesting discussion!
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
indian yogik perceptions and other religious philosophies have established how brain and five sences percive,cognate and understand surrounding through five sences which we call brain or nuralaccumulation and responces,figurative and nerrative part of design differs from person to person and architecture always tend to absorbe all this perseption as like food and clothing adjusts to individual or mass needs.
Dushyant Nathwani
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Mr. Nathwani: good interpretation, it would be good if we could establish links between science, myth and religious philosphies and how each would see the perceptual process, including how human senses work and transmit messages to the brain. Do you have any online source in mind that offers some guidance on how religious philosphies interpret these concetps. This would be very interesting.
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
These are some thoughts dervied from research. People possess two different but complementary ways of processing information.

- A linear, step by step style that analyzes the parts that make up a pattern (the left side of the brain)
- A spatial, relational style that seeks to construct patterns (the right side of the brain).

Both sides of the human brain perform cognitive operations, but each is trained for different modes of thinking.

The left side is usually described as analytical, linear, sequential, and prodcues knowledge through inferential logic, it deals with words, numbers, and parts.

The right side of the brain is described as synthetic, holistic, and recognizes relationships between different parts, it deals with images, patterns and wholes.

An example in the attached diagram illustrates that the left side perceives the word "CAT", but the right side is able to see it. The left side perceives equal corners forming a rectangle, but the right side is able to see the whole rectangle.

Design as a mental activity requires both sides of the brain to work actively and simultaneously.

Any ideas?
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
i shall upload some matter within a week,the illustration is around 15 years old,done by me on my actual experience ,explainig the inner self of human interecting with external stimuli through the senses.regards......
Dushyant Nathwani
Brain, Design, and Architecture
interesting issue.. check out new models of the brain, such as the holographic model, and consider concepts such as david bohm's implicate order, or danah zohar's "the quantum self"-
Ayssar Arida
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Although my knowledge of the NEW SCIENCE or the New Physics is limited, I am familiar with some old work and literature that emerged in the seventies and early eighties, on the characteristics of creative designers, how their brains work, I would argue that the resulting theory of "Mind Research"; the Split Brain Theory is closer to the work of architects in terms of its impact on design and education.

The work of Dana Zohar, however is fascinating and revolutionary, yet it is hypothetical. Yes, there is an attempt to construct models of how the human brain and body work. But, as a far as I know her work has been criticized by many that it contradicts with basic science. I think the work of David Bohm is really important and more challenging to the way in which we see the world and the way in which we may see it in the future.

I would refer the participants in this discussion to his work The work of David Bohm

I had a look at your great website, but need time to go through it carefully and read your thought provoking work.
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
There's a text in the latest issue of TechKnowLogia (available online, free subscription):
Brain Research, Learning and Technology,
that might be worth reviewing.

The text references a recent study (also available online) commissioned by OECD:
Understanding the Brain, Towards a a New Learning Science .

Mirjana Devetakovic Radojevic
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Excellent comprehenisve resources, would you please upload them in our Group workspace Architectural Pedagogy and Andragogy Best, A-
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Dear Dr. Salama

Discussion of the relationship between Neuroscience, Design, and Architecture is an interesting issue. We are in a real need for some research that bridges neuroscience with the built environment, which also magnify the relationship between architecture and the human mind. The enormous body of research that has evolved from the neuroscience community in the last two decades should be arranged again to clear that relation.

I will go back to Architectural Record magazine, June-2003, p27. In Record News there's a title which says:
Neuroscientists and architects to study perception of place.

This will take us back to the year 1992 when Dr. Jonas Salk was invited to The American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention to receive the AIA's Twenty-five Year Award for the Salk Institute. During his acceptance, he told a remarkable story of having visited the Abbey at Assisi, Italy for a personal retreat early in his career because he was "stuck" intellectually in trying to find a cure for Polio. Something about the architectural experience of Assisi so inspired him, that it was there he came up with the idea of his Polio vaccine and how to make it. When it came time to establish his own center for biological studies in La Jolla, California, he chose one of the most accomplished architects in the world, Louis Kahn, to design a place to think, listen and discover.

Little is currently known about the synergy of architecture and neuroscience. However, AIA's Department of Research Planning under the leadership of John Eberhard has surmised, after almost seven years of study that certain neuroscience research has the potential to provide information about the human mind/brain that will help architects understand the following issues.

How humans perceive the built environment?

How humans respond to the built environment?

This thing led to the establishment of the Academy of Neuroscientist for Architecture (ANFA). This project is the brainchild of many people passionate about the opportunities afforded by such a research institution.

Here are some possible Research Ideas in Architecture and Neuroscience offered by ANFA:

Proportion, harmony and symmetry in design
The para-hippocampal place area (PPA) in the human brain coupled with the genetic preference for the proportions of the golden mean, may indicate that a historic response to good proportions in building design is innate rather than learned.

Enriching the learning experiences in K-12 classrooms
By understanding how lighting, acoustics, thermal conditions, windows, etc. impact the cognitive activity of children in a learning environment we will have evidence for enriching the school environment.

Productivity in the Office Environment
The nervous system with the brain forms the communications network for undertaking office work. By understanding the biological basis for workplace stress, we understand the potential for induced illness within the cognitive environment.

Way finding in complex buildings
The role of the Hippocampus in Spatial Memory has been extensively studied, especially in rodents. By understanding how human brains enable some people to easily find their way while others have great difficulty, and why the brain performs in this manner, we may be able to provide more easily used corridors in complex buildings.

Religious settings and religious experience
Religious settings and religious experience Neuro-theology research is exploring how ritual behavior elicits brain states that bring on deep spiritual unity. Understanding in what way the feeling of "sacred" is present in the mind of a visitor to a religious structure will enable researchers to evaluate alternative designs.

"Healing by Design" for Alzheimer's patients
Neuropathologic changes associated with neurodegenerative disorders: neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) and senile plaques (SP) are known to cause Alzheimer's. By understanding how such damage to the brain changes perceptions we may be in a position to know why certain facility designs can calm those afflicted by this disease.

A research academy that is focused on architecture and the mind:

Mapping the Mind, by Rita Carter, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1998.

Visual Intelligence, by Donald D. Hoffman, W.W. Norton & Company, New York and London, 1998.

The Prehistory of the Mind, by Steven Mithen, Thames and Hudson Ltd. , London,

The Feeling of What Happens, by Antonio R. Damasio, Harcourt Brace and Company, New York and London, 1999.

How the Mind Works, by Steven Pinker, W.W. Norton & Company, New York and London, 1997.

For more information on this initiative, you can visit

Thanks to Dr. Salama who opened such a nice discussion.
Salem from Palestine.
Salem Yousif Al Qudwa
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Thank you Mr. El Qudwa for the resources you have provided; it would appear that you are into the subject. The resources you are mentioning are realy broadening the issue and have many implications on the understanding of architecture and the built environment.

I was going through some of the publications I received over the past two months but have not had a chance to even look at them. I found the first issue of AIA Journal of Architecture, it has couple of articles that refer to the resoruces you just mentioned. one of them is "How the brain experiences architecture" by John Eberhard.

This is another diagram that attempts to conceptualize what issues are addressed in each side of the brain based on the "Split Brain Theory." It seems that both sides should work actively and equally during the act of design. However, the left side might be active in the quantification of design aspects, while the right side has a capacity to deal with qualitative measures.
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Ashraf, thanks for visiting my site, and for this great thread.

i think danah's work is quite inspiring, regardless of whether it has been proven or disproven scientifically - she does if i recall well, make clear hers is a hypothesis that hasnt yet been proven, although based on correct data at the time. i am not sure if you have read her later works, but for example "quantum society (1995)" is quite more updated compared to "quantum self (1991)", but i havent followed up on her critics.

anyway, i have recently come across what seems very relevant to this discussion:

"> has been created to provide a structure through and upon which the many artists, art historians, architects, writers, philosophers, and others who are tethering their practices to issues which are also of interest to neuroscientists can publish their work."
Ayssar Arida
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Thanks Ayssar for your posting. Actually, I have not read the quantum society. Hope to do so in the near future.

The website you refer to is a wonderful resource. I encourage everyone to have a look at it. It enjoys unique richness and many interdisciplinary ideas and research work.
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
I attended a recent presentation by Julie Barrett (Learning Specialist), the split brain theory was heavily addressed in relation to design. The theme was "the color of learning" trying to establish links between the split brain theory and reactions to color, while emphasizing the impact of different colors on the learning process of children.

What was interesting is that certain colors stimulate the brain and foster certain activities such as excitement, alretness, reflection, relaxation.

The overall message deduced from the presentation is that it is very crucial to think of the color as a critical design element, especially when designing for children.
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
very recently buddhist monks happens to go for experimentations at MIT .i have asked my psychoenalist friend to help me in shaping matterial for up-load as well cross check from her point of view.may need 4 to 5 more weeks.regards.
Dushyant Nathwani
Brain, Design, and Architecture
A new recource that hopfully helps re-generate this discussion How Neuroscience Can Improve Architectural Environments This topic is starting to take its shape and more scholars are interested in this field.
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Last month I met the President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Mr Thompson E. Penney here in Japan, and interviewed him for our newspaper Archi Times. The impact of neuroscience on architecture was one topic that he disccussed extensively. AIA, in collaboration with neuroscientists, is pursuing a ressearch to study the impact of design on the hypocampus of the brain. They are trying to prove scientifically that a good environment actually improves life and helps a person be more content and happy.

According to Mr. Penney, it has already been proven by Dr. Fred Gage, a renowned neuroscientist, that a good environment positively affects human mind, but further studies and a solid proof of this will definitely have a huge impact on the future of design.

Dr. Ashraf, as you are based in USA currently, you can have access to this study on neuroscience through AIA. Actually a lot of material on this study is available on the AIA website.

Hammad Husain
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Thanks Hammad; the material on AIA website is very valuable, and they have other ongoing projects on the same subject as Salem has introduced in his posting. I have couple of articles, but will check to see if the the complete final study/report is available.

One notable benefit of discussion here is that we have under this topic a number of valuable resources provided by all participants.

My best,
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Interesting Discussion, indeed. The works of nural scientists do try to understand how brain recieves processes and organises and percieves environmental information, but I think it is still a long way from understanding why cultural factors influence the perception and even cognition. Perception and even cognition involve not just the senses but also recall of already available information in the brain. In this regard, the works of linguists and semiotitions and psychoanalysts will also be illuminating. Especially, Umberto Eco. I found his book "Kant and Platipus" very interesting.
B. Shashi Bhooshan
Brain, Design, and Architecture
The recalling of information that is already available in the brain as part of the "perceptual process." But, what is available in the brain is a collective result of many things that include experiences, culture, education,.....etc. The work of the psycho-analyst "Carl Jung" on Psychological Types would give some insights. Also, the work of "Benjamin Bloom on educational psychology would give more insights. It would be important to get your views on how a relationship between linguistics and smeiotics and how the brain works can be established? Thanks
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Another resource that might be useful is a set of design principles for learning environments by Jeff Lackney: 12 Design Principles Based on Brain-based Learning Research
Ashraf Salama
Brain, Design, and Architecture

Dear Dr. Ashraf

Hi there,


I'd like to add the following links that are useful about this topic:

Related ArchNet Discussions

  • Liberty as a generator for Inspiration

Wishing you all the best


Hicham Maged
Brain, Design, and Architecture
hicham, you might be interested in this:
Sq: Connecting With Our Spiritual Intelligence by Danah Zohar & Ian Marshall
i personally didnt like the almost "self-help manual" style the book is written in, but there are many great insights in there, and if you think laterally- very relevant to this discussion i think.
Ayssar Arida
Brain, Design, and Architecture
Dear Ayssar

... Yes Indeed, and i see that this's valuable to read.

Thanks Again
Hicham Maged
Brain, Design, and Architecture

Dear All,

Hi Again.


If any body is interested, I'd collected the data from the last 2 websites I'd listed before ( see my response dated on January 04, 2004 ). The material in this file is general information about the Brain & Nutrition, Intelligence and Our Brain. I think that those data are basics that are essential to know.


The file is titled { Brain Scan } and is found in My Files\General folder.


Wishing you all the best,

Good Luck,


Hicham Maged


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