Neuroscience and Biobehavioral : Architecture

Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology || Architecture

By Goldschmidt, Gabriela


The history of designing buildings goes back several millennia. It is reasonable to assume that for a long time, huts, and later buildings, mostly of modest size, were made to respond to basic needs of shelter. However, social life, which had taken place primarily in the open, eventually also required accommodation in buildings as well. The first known building of a monumental size that is believed to have been the brainchild of an appointed architect is the Pyramid of Djoser in Egypt, designed by Imhotep between 2630 and 2611 BCE. Until the modern era, the history of architecture is told through mostly large-scale buildings with symbolic significance erected to house religious, government, cultural and social functions. The rulers who commissioned them also had palaces designed and built for themselves, to serve as status symbols as much as living quarters. In modern times other building types emerged that acquired architectural prestige (diverse additional cultural centers, commercial edifices, transportation hubs, educational institutions, and more). Residential buildings, other than houses for the very rich, were not considered worthy of architectural attention until rather late in the modern era.

Outstanding buildings do not spring into being by chance, as arbitrary triumphs of creative architects. Exceptional buildings embody ideas that had ripened within a culture or micro-culture and were translated into built form; in return, exceptional works of architecture often extend such ideas and promote further development of architectural theory. Thus, the history of architecture is largely a history of ideas; both general ones, which define historic styles, and individual ones that are responsible for outstanding buildings.

The two major aspects that guide the design of any building are function and form. Every building must serve the purpose for which it is being built, and it must have a physical form, which impacts upon both its users and those who perceive it from the outside as part of the environment. The evaluation of form and function is well aligned with the two most prominent measures of creativity: originality and practicality. In the behavioral sciences creativity is often measured as the sum of originality (novelty) and practicality (usefulness) of the outcome of a design undertaking. Although design of any kind is considered to be a creative activity, there are of course designs which are more creative than others, and it is these that are most interesting for this chapter.  The entry will touch upon ideas in architecture, including the latest developments which are largely contingent on digital design technology. It ends with a section on architectural education which is greatly concerned with questions relating to ideas, form, function, and creativity.


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