How Does Architecture Affect Behavior?
Architecture as a Means of Controlling Human Behavior
Colors need careful selection to cater to the inhabitants of a building, according to the purpose for
which the building is constructed. In a school or daycare setting, it is important to color the walls,
ceiling, and the floors of play areas so that children feel safe and secure, and so learning and
discovery activities are stimulating. According to an article by Reid and Upington (2009), textures as
well as colors are important to young children, although ironically, adults usually make these
selections during the design process. This apparent blunder, although obvious in hindsight, can
mean the difference between children feeling adventurous, safe, and motivated to play and learn, or
becoming withdrawn and upset during their stay at a childcare facility or development center (Read
& Upington, 2009). Similarly, that same secure and homely feeling was accounted for in an aged-
care facility in England, and according to nursing staff, happy residents reaped the benefits of
having been allowed the opportunity to participate in the design and color of their own spaces ("A
Homely Approach", 2012). Regardless of the purpose of a building, informed architects have become
successful in designing both residential and commercial buildings with psychology in mind.
Environmental and Psychological Implications of Commercial and Residential Design - Purpose and
Asian inspired designs often incorporate the use of plant life within buildings, and in addition to an
appropriate color selection, the inclusion of natural elements is conducive to lower stress levels. Of
course, the popularity of indoor plants is also evident in western inspired designs, and occasionally,
artificial plants replace real foliage. According to the article, Architectural Lessons From
Environmental Psychology:The Case of Biophilic Architecture, the preference for natural elements
within the design of a building can be explained by evolution. Water features, trees, flowers and
other plant life are popular features in many buildings, for both commercial and private use, and
according to Joye (2007) "Different empirical studies show that individuals consistently prefer
natural, vegetated landscapes over urban settings without vegetation" (p. 307).
The Importance of Architectural Development Supporting Sustainable Development
Whereas the inclusion of natural elements promote or enhance one's mood, lower blood pressure, or
stimulate one to feel relaxed, or make an additional purchase after lingering, care should also be
taken in the selection of material derived from nature if sustainable development is to be successful.
The use of various types of wood or wood substitutes for flooring and other interior and exterior
features is an example of how carefully chosen natural elements of construction can be chosen
without the fear of depleting supplies of building materials in the future. Bamboo, for instance, is a
natural element, which grows rapidly, is durable, and cost effective. The use of bamboo in place of
traditional hardwood types is becoming increasingly more popular. In a 2010 issue of Builder, the
author of Product Pros and Cons: Hardwood Flooring vs. Bamboo, the authorspecifically points out
"Bamboo is very much like wood, but it's not wood. Technically speaking, it's a tree-like grass that
grows extremely fast, making it among the fastest-growing plants in the world. This rapid growth
has made it one of the darlings of the green building world" (Maynard, para. 3).
Whether a structure is custom-built for a specific purpose, or purchased and redesigned for further
use, careful thought regarding the origin of building materials is vital for sustainable development.
Interior decorators utilize green resources such as bamboo for flooring, various grasses for mats to
incorporate nature into their design strategies, and the use of color to promote good health,
relaxation, and an overall sense of wellbeing. The exterior design is the first aspect of a structure to
be noticed, and aesthetically pleasing structures foster feelings of security, comfort, and privacy.
Color is no exception, and the use of color on the exterior surfaces of commercial buildings as well
as residences help to create great curb appeal, and encourage individuals to enter a building, enjoy
the surroundings, and take advantage of either its merchandise or a warm welcome and a friendly
A Homely Approach is Paying Dividends for
Patients and Staff. (2012). Nursing
Standard, 27(2), 20-21.
Rydeen, J., Erickson, P., & Lange, J (2008).
Built for Brains. Industrial Engineer: IE,
Joye, Y. (2007). Architectural Lessons from
Environmental Psychology: The Case of
Biophilic Architecture. Review of General
Psychology, 11(4), 305-328.
Maynard, N. F. (2010, September). Product Pros and Cons: Hardwood Flooring vs. Bamboo.
Retrieved October 2012, from Builder:
Read, M., & Upington, D. (2009). Young Children's Color Preferences in the Interior Environment.
Early Childhood Education Journal, 36(6), 491-496. doi:10.1007/s10643-009-0311-6