Design for Well-being. Semiosi delle forme

06.20 — Open Air Culture

The human brain has always loved the pergola by nature.

An example of architecture that is capable of perfectly balancing the needs of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. By combining openness and protection, focal and panoramic vision, the geometry of spaces and the possibility of moving freely. Conditions dictated by evolutionary and survival processes, which today translate into a natural feeling of well-being in outdoor living spaces. This is what emerges from Pratic’s third neuroscientific research study, which contains important news for the world of living space design and those who love open-air life.

The forced pause of the last few months has only delayed the results of “Design for Wellbeing – Semiosi delle forme“, the study established through many years of collaborative work between Pratic and Stefano Calabrese, narratologist at the IULM University of Milan, and Denitza Nedkova, neuro-aesthetician at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

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Functioning of the right and left hemisphere, even in the architectural field

The “Design for Wellbeing” research aimed to test the different functions that the human brain activates in the architectural field both in the right hemisphere – which controls the left part of the body – and in the left hemisphere – which governs the right part of the body -, following rules of synergy and specialisation, while also constantly competing with each other.

This discovery dates back to the nineteenth century and it’ s due to Paul Broca, who identified the areas in the left part of the brain dedicated to the use of verbal language, although today we know much more about it: the left hemisphere deals with communication, classification, problem-solving; the right hemisphere focuses mainly on negative emotions such as fear and anger at the same time, on visual-spatial orientation and creativity. While the history of the West shows a substantial prevalence of the left hemisphere (technology, economic calculation, functionality), many people today support the need to re-evaluate the right hemisphere. In the architectural field, this means designing something within the environmental context, orienting design not only to functionality but also to beauty, emotional contact, and well-being.

The study conducted in 2019 by the research group showed that outdoor facilities are surprisingly effective in determining co-operation between the two brain hemispheres. A perfect balance, which pergolas naturally achieve, particularly when developed using cutting-edge design, advanced technologies, innovative aesthetic guidelines and neuroscientific research techniques such as those promoted by Pratic. On one hand, pergolas enhance the right hemisphere, as they provide a perfect visuospatial domain of the surrounding environment, interpreted horizontally, concisely, and emotionally. On the other hand, pergolas satisfy the left hemisphere, generating a feeling of protective inclusion through open spaces allowing you the freedom to enter and exit without obstacles.

Design and architecture meet the basic needs of the human brain, which has retained some memory from archaic times: being able to see in the distance and moving in approach or avoidance mode with prey and predators.

There is no doubt that the scientific evidence presented by “Design for Wellbeing” will change the future of architecture and design, with projects capable of integrating the needs of both sides of our brain into a perfect marriage. This is already represented by one of the most spontaneous and archaic structures: the pergola. It supports a harmonious transition between indoor and outdoor spaces and balances the right hemisphere – a lover of wide-ranging visions, aesthetic pleasure, emotional contact with nature – and the left hemisphere – which loves to feed on functionality, technology, safety and protection. Especially if the outdoor structure has a mobile canopy, which makes the individual almost indistinguishable from the habitat in which he or she is located.

Edi Orioli, Vice Presidente of Pratic

“The third edition of this ambitious and stimulating editorial project has also allowed us to discover how outdoor life and in turn our collections are far more than they appear; if our products are so sought after and admired, it is perhaps due to the hidden qualities we are discovering through our collaboration with a team of university professors. Understanding these aspects allows us to create products that combine beauty with the preferences of which man now has an unprecedented knowledge of in history“.

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