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How London’s architectural environment affects its residents

London is one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the world, and it isn’t an understatement to say that it is a cultural melting pot. So, has its architectural environment got anything to do with it?

In recent years, psychologists have developed a branch of research known as the psychology of architecture and city designs. This theory studies how spaces – from office blocks to entire cities – can influence the emotional and behavioural aspects of their inhabitants.

There are plenty of examples to support this concept. For instance, when you walk into a building, there are dozens of factors that can change your mood. Similarly, it is often hard to get a feel for space purely by looking at pictures when searching for apartments or offices to rent.

To fully understand how buildings can have an impact on our emotions for better and worse, let’s look at the basics of architectural psychology.

What is architectural psychology?

The term ‘architectural psychology’ refers to the study of the effect of buildings on the feelings, thoughts and behaviours of their occupants and how it affects the functioning of a building itself. It also studies how structures can shape our culture.

Simply put, if you work in a crumbling tower block or a stylish warehouse conversion, your workplace could have either a positive or negative impact on your life. And that’s what architectural psychology aims to study.

More recently, similar studies are being used by architects to create sustainable residential buildings to promote a healthier living environment.

How London affects its residents’ brains

Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, the researcher behind ‘City Living Marks the Brain,’ found that social stress was high among those volunteers who had a history of urban living.

“The amygdala, which processes emotion, was activated only in people currently living in a city. And the cingulate cortex, which helps to regulate the amygdala and processes negative emotions, responded more strongly in those brought up in cities than in those who grew up in towns or rural areas,” explains the 2011 study.

London being one of the most popular cities in the world is no stranger to social stress. About 59% of people have admitted that working in London, especially Westminster, has induced stress and anxiety in them.

“Westminster topped the list as the most stressed-out London borough, with 12,808 mentions of stress and anxiety across social media channels,” the 2018 research found.

So, can a visually pleasing architectural environment change things?

Creating a harmonious and happy environment

Architects, designers, and urbanists have long favoured the term ‘biophilic design’ to characterise building features that provide people with restorative contact with the natural world.

Biophilic design refers to designing spaces with a view to improving human health and well-being by increasing contact with the natural environment or biota.

A growing body of research in health and environmental psychology has identified measurable positive effects of biophilic features on human beings: higher energy levels, increased capacity for attention, better mood, increased social bonding, greater creativity, and more.

Studies have shown that when people work in a clean office environment with lots of natural light, they are more productive and less prone to stress. On the other hand, buildings that are dirty or cluttered have been found to cause poor productivity in employees.

The same study applies to residential architecture, too. Residential buildings that are aesthetically pleasing and well-lit can greatly improve the physical and mental wellbeing of their surrounding residents.

It’s also crucial to keep London’s building facades clean in order to create a positive lasting impression on its visitors.

“From a tourism perspective, maintaining the facades of buildings in high-traffic tourist areas enhances the experience for many of the 31 million people who visit our glorious capital each year,” says Nigel Bennett, Technical Director at See Brilliance.

Simple ways to beautify London’s architecture

When it comes to enhancing the look of a building, replacement is often the first choice as part of a refurbishment or visual upgrade scheme, while preserving existing structures and facades of a building is overlooked far too often.

Restorative cleaning offers us the chance to improve London’s architectural environment without the need to rebuild. Nigel Bennett from See Brilliance explains:

“The process of restoring a building façade takes days of planning and access considerations, but for the most part, the end result is an almost ‘as new’ appearance at a fraction of the cost of rebuilding or replacement”.

Restorative cleaning is the process of removing dirt, soot, mould and mildew, and other contaminants from the buildings that we see every day. It is used to restore the original texture, lustre and protective finish of an existing building façade.

Cladding and façade restoration are both cost-effective ways to instantly beautify a building. And since the goal of restoration is to prevent or reduce deterioration of the surface to a point where it no longer needs replacing, the See Brilliance restorative cleaning approach works brilliantly.

How See Brilliance can help

The capital’s much-loved buildings are crumbling under the effects of pollution, age and weather. Renovating tall and historical buildings can be a tricky business. This is where we come in!

See Brilliance is a specialist commercial facade restoration company working in London and across the UK, offering a range of proven building and facade restoration services. With 30+ years’ experience in commercial restorative cleaning of metal, glass and stone building facades, we specialise in protecting your assets.

If you’d like to get in touch, call our specialist team directly on 01635 230 888 or email [email protected].

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