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ARCHITECTURE AND NEUROSCIENCE: Re-signifying public spaces through human experience - B.Arch final thesis
Author: Evellin Morais / Advisor: Ana Rolim

Catholic University of Pernambuco (UNICAP), Brazil

This research explores the intersection of neuroscience and architecture to understand how architectural experiences impact human behavior. Focusing on an underutilized space beneath an elevated expressway in Recife, Brazil, the aim is to propose an architectural intervention that enhances the well-being of individuals by mitigating negative effects of urban environments, such as excessive verticalization and lack of active ground floors.

By employing neuroscience tools like eye tracking and emotion recognition, combined with user feedback obtained through questionnaires, the study analyzes how people respond to the proposed intervention. This data informs the design process, ensuring that the final intervention aligns with user preferences and promotes positive experiences. Ultimately, the research aims to contribute to the creation of more engaging and beneficial public spaces.

Videos of the tests performed are available by clicking here: eye tracking and emotion recognition.  

Aerial view of proposal: an underpass of an elevated expressway in the city of Recife, Brazil

Site conditions: an expressway in built in the mangrove area in the South of Recife, Brazil

The area of intervention and its neighborhood

The site borders a canal under the expressway which has become a a leftover space: a non-place

The site as a non-place with potential to becoming an active public space for the community

Research structure and main tools used

Applying the concept of placemaking to transform a non-place into an enjoyable public space

The parti gains force by interpreting the local geography and urban morphology

Tools used in participatory design phase: eye tracking, questionnaire and emotion recognition

Testing the users' responses to family of shapes

Ground floor plan: the non-place is activated by introducing interactive spaces with seating, board games, playground, picnic, environmental education and farmers' market

Access from Antonio Falcão Street at South of site

Section AA

View of playground with water fountain at left and canal at right

Section BB

Interactive furniture invite users to enjoy the public space

Section CC

A farmers' market and vegetable gardens are introduced and the canal generates an enjoyable waterfront

Section DD

Section EE

The columns of the elevated expressway become vertical vegetable gardens and the canal waterfront is transformed

A place for gatherings and relaxing

An exhibition space is dedicated to promoting environmental awareness amongst city dwellers

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