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ARCHITECTURE AND NEUROSCIENCE: Towards spatial atmosphere and sensory experience in a phenomenology-based design methodology 

Authors: Ana Rolim e Robson Canuto

Poster presenter, Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture  (ANFA 2016) - Salk Lake Institute, La Jolla, California

Architecture schools often prioritize solving practical and technical issues over reflection, influenced by workplace demands. This paper presents an alternative approach, integrating neuroscience into the design process to explore spatial atmospheres and sensory experiences, with natural light as the focal point.


Understanding the crucial link between light and vision, the methodology emphasizes creating ambiances through cellular spatial experiments, particularly in a crematorium adjacent to a 19th-century cemetery in Recife, Brazil. Three phases are executed: (1) NAVIGATION involves sensory data collection from burial sites; (2) EXPERIENCE tests spatial atmospheres using physical models; (3) DESIGN develops building concepts incorporating specific lighting effects, such as crystal veils and luminescence.


The design proposals aim to cultivate introspective atmospheres conducive to concentration and inner peace, especially in spiritual contexts. Results show a preference for regular geometric shapes, reflecting the brain's affinity for familiar patterns. Integrating neuroscience into architecture fosters innovative studies, like the exploration of light effects, enhancing the multisensory potential of design. Further advancements, such as immersive virtual reality testing, could bridge the gap between designers, users, and spatial experiences.

Additional information can be found on the ANFA web page, featuring the work.

Synthesis of design methodology presented

Poster presented at conference

Conference booklet cover

Conference booklet index

Abstract published on conference booklet

Abstract published on conference booklet

Poster displayed at the Salk Lake Institute where the conference took place

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