Lab Rats – Studying the Science Behind Your Home

Many of us opt to ‘aim high’ when renovating or designing our space. Tall windows, walls and ceilings – they create impact and strengthen acoustics. But, did you know there’s more to those 3metre studs than meets the eye. In the name of science, your architecture choices are doing much more than meeting design expectations – they’re promoting performance and improving your conceptual thinking.

What does neuroscience have to do with building my home, you say? Think design choices that effect the way we live, work and function . . .

Sky high: The story of Jonas Salks, an American medical researcher, still remains the most cited example of the unique tie between architecture and the brain. In the 1950s, Salks – struggling to discover a cure for polo – moved to a monastery in Umbria, Italy. He claims the high ceilings and Romanesque arches enabled him to clear his obstructed mind, inspiring his solution – a vaccine was founded.

Research suggests that higher ceilings promote greater performance and strengthen conceptual thinking. On the flipside, lower ceiling spaces have been toted to improve our mathematical thinking. Think higher – think expansive, opt lower – think focused and contained.

Plant space: Research tells us that our visual connection to the outdoors also impacts our cognitive behaviours. Just being able to see a plant, a slice of the sky or a water view from the kitchen bench or dining table, influences our stress levels and mindset.  

Colour waves: Warm colours promote longevity and warmth – we want to spend time in rooms that exude softer lighting and hues. Calm and serenity on your list? Aim for blues and whites, say colour palette experts.

Lighting fix: Every aspect of home design – right down to the lighting position – can evoke mood and feelings. Wanting less formality in your home? Lighting below eye level livens the mood – think low wall lighting down hallways and corridors, and lighting above eye level creates spaciousness and deepens the mood.

Science or no science, when it comes to your home – it’s what’s on the inside that is going to count towards how you live, play and feel.

Strike a balance between your architectural design ‘must-haves’ and your budget ‘full-stops’

So, you’re designing a new place. Whatever your fit – house, apartment, barn, cottage – striking a balance between your ‘true’ wants, your budget end point and investment in ‘other rooms and spaces’ is essential for long-term satisfaction and enjoyment.

So, how do you actually achieve the architectural space you visualise without losing your mind and budget figure in the process? Firstly, set the budget numbers aside and hone in specifically on the design process.

Why? Because all too often we hear stories of clients who ‘had’ these exciting dreams and visions at the beginning of a project, only to arrive at the end and have a home that is ‘nice and lovely’ but lacks the ‘true’ soul and spirit they’d envisaged.

From a designer’s perspective, many homeowners inevitably fall into this spiral of trying to do ‘too’ much with ‘not enough’, which arguably results in a project that fails to impress where it should.

Ultimately, clever design relies on smart use of space and creative application of materials, both linked to a thorough understanding of how you live and how you want to live. For example, a designer can capture that ‘soul and vision’, by increasing the height of ceilings in living areas, or featuring specialist finishing materials on walls or ceilings i.e. timber sarked ceiling as opposed to gib, or creating a larger door/opening that connects your indoor and outdoor spaces.

Articulate design isn’t about digging deeper into your pocket, it’s about honing the real reasons behind the architectural project.

Seeking architectural expertise across Tauranga, Mount Maunganui, Te Puke, Kati Kati and beyond? Seek us, Coalesce Architecture, we have over 40 years combined experience in all areas of design.