Professor of Architecture at Ohio University, Kevin Nute, is making a good case for bringing weather indoors based on decades of previous research. In an essay for Green Biz, Nute outlines why he thinks changing the atmosphere we live and work in to replicate what we experience outdoors will be a good thing. If you've been trudging through terrible heat or down pouring rain during your commute to an air conditioned office, you may be skeptical. But air conditioning is a form of climate control that we take for granted. Nute is just building on that.
He references a scientist named Donald Hebbs who wrote about something called Arousal Theory in the 1950s. As naughty as that sounds, all Hebbs posits is that people need "a degree of changing sensory stimulation in order to remain fully attentive."
A gentle breeze, a change in temperature, a passing mist. Nute believes all these things could add to productivity and focus at work, even if they sound bad for electronics. He also references researchers that discovered patients heal faster when they can look out the window at nature or landscapes rather than brick walls. Unfortunately for most of us, we're lucky to see a window all day at work, forget about what it looks out on.
One simple change that Nute suggests is creating artificial lights that moves in a similar pattern to sunlight falling through tree leaves, or even create glass hallways surrounded by greenery. Nute says the trees could even be fake and seen through fogged glass. It's the illusion that one is surrounded by nature that produces tranquility and focus, according to him.
While bringing real weather indoors is a logistical tangle, Nute's suggestion that green builders consider the psychological impact of their creations as another aspect of the architecture is intriguing. As Nute writes:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most people in the United States spend more than 90 percent of their lives inside buildings. Features that make us more relaxed and productive in those indoor environments, then, could have significant positive effects on a great many lives.
That sounds worth constructing.
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