Being adjudged amongst top 20 in this global competition with over 1000 entries was indeed hugely satisfying.
The thought of ‘SENSORY ARCHITECTURE’ being rooted in BIOENERGETIC ARCHITECTURE …was so well received.
Following thoughts were submitted ….
Our senses work in tandem, providing us a robust and coherent experience of our environment. Consider entering a restaurant: one notices the interiors, takes in the smell of pleasing odors wafting from the kitchen, hears music and sounds of conversation, feels the comfort of the seat, treats eyes with a splendid view of a lake and relishes the taste of food. Our engagement with a space is the ‘sum total’ of mood created by accumulated messages from five senses. Our brain benchmarks this ‘sum of sensory impulses’ against our individual barometer of ‘good, bad and ugly’ and finally we arrive at the verdict. Good architecture is user-centric and succeeds in creating a positive verdict for most users. However, the sum total of human perceptions is not limited to sensory inputs only. There have been instances where one ‘intuitively feel’ comfortable or uncomfortable – regardless of sensory perceptions of that space. Aforementioned is a common experience that compels us to consider that ‘Architecture impacts us at both sensory’ as well as ‘extra-sensory’ levels – in ways beyond what we have deciphered and designed. Any discussion about the sensory is incomplete without knowing the ‘causal extra-sensory’ factors. Let’s explore this mystery.
In 2012, at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland , the discovery of 'Higgs Boson' or the 'God particle ' , brought science and the ' realm of spirituality' on a common platform. We saw western science speaking the same thoughts (although in different words) that Vedic science has long propagated. The idea that ‘the subtle gives rise to the manifest and controls it's qualitative as well as quantitative aspects’ - is now being understood from both scientific as well as spiritual perspective.
This indeed is a game changer of 21st century.
Furthermore everything is interconnected, intertwined with each other within a holistic whole. This is called biological integration or the harmonic order of nature. Within this harmonic order, all life forms have evolved, including humans, who exist in a synergetic unity with their immediate and wider environment (including built and non-built environment).
“Our physical (sensory) world is a mere 'reflection' of the 'energy world'( extra-sensory)”
Is aforementioned statement true for architecture as well?
Even though sensory experience has been and shall remain a major guiding factor for defining ‘good architecture’ since ages; yet such experience is limited by the thresholds of five senses. To understand this let’s consider following instances:
· We cannot see electromagnetic fields yet these have immense impact on the electrical communication of all types of cells in our body.(1)
· We cannot see earth’s magnetic deviations, yet ‘geo-pathic stress points have been scientifically known to give rise to chronic ailments like cancer etc.( 2).
· Direct daylight falling on our retina balances our circadian rhythms every morning as the Blue wavelength of daylight triggers serotonin which is an ‘activity-enhancer’ hormone.
· A four fold increase in CO2 levels of an enclosed space can reduce cognitive faculties of people in that space by as much as 50% without them being even aware of this! (3)
None of the aforementioned can be perceived by human sense organs. Nonetheless the ‘cellular ‘ mechanism’ of our body gets enormously impacted by them. Even though these are not sensory experiences, yet they can impact our ‘holistic wellbeing’ and ‘experience of architecture’.
Another aspect to reckon is that we spend almost 90% of our lives in enclosed spaces such as homes, schools, workplaces, automobiles etc. We have surrounded ourselves with ‘new age materials’ and ‘artificial systems’ so much that our ‘sensory connect with the fundamental elements’, which are the basis of our existence (Earth, air, water, fire and space), has been severed drastically. Contemporary ‘sealed’ buildings coupled with unhealthy lifestyles is causing serious interference with biological systems. Under such circumstances, it is imperative that architectural consciousness seeks to nurture both sensory as well as ‘extra’ sensory faculties. This, however, is yet an unexplored domain and most narratives of responsible architecture are largely connected with form, function and sustainability. A holistic ‘sensory and extra sensory’ experience through space design is a design dimension that is knocking on our doors.
'Bio-energetic architecture' offers a clue
‘Bioenergetics’ is the science of energy exchange between living systems and their environment Deploying this science to design space and naming it Bio-energetic Architecture can offer us a clue toward a new dimension of space design that is holistically sensory !
Research in Biophysics indicates that a strong and balanced ‘Bio-field’ (Prana-shakti) is the secret key to physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being. Bio-energetic Architecture can be best understood as an integration of multiple domains ( fig.1) ; which are holistically and systematically applied as ‘a layer of space design’, along with the best practices of ‘sensory architecture’, to create built-environments that ‘enhance, expand and reinforce’ the bio-field (Prana-shakti); thereby facilitating health, happiness and harmony in the lives of inhabitants. Such an ‘all encompassing’ approach that bridges architecture, science and environment with human body and mind can harness the best of physics as well as meta-physics in a seamless manner to create ‘positive spaces’.
Fig.1: Multi-disciplinary domain of Bio-energetic Architecture
Aforementioned domains ( fig.1) hold clues to designing architecture that offers a fulfilling sensory experience and goes beyond to offer a recipe for ‘holistic human well being’. Perched at the threshold of third decade of 21st century and experiencing the ongoing pandemic, global design consciousness has shifted focus beyond the sensory impulses towards ‘Holistic well being’. It is the need of the hour to expand our definition of sensory architectural design and use this potent tool to design the ‘subtle environment’ along with physical environment and restore ‘extra-sensory well-being’ as well.
Domains like Bio-energetic architecture can hugely enrich Sensory architecture and thereby bring a paradigm shift in design consciousness.
1. Rubik, Beverly. The Biofield Hypothesis: Its Biophysical Basis and Role in Medicine. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Volume 8, Number 6, pp. 703–717.2002.p709
2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268375416_Effect_of_geopathic_stress_on_human_heart_rate_and_blood_pressure, last accessed 2021/02/02
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3548274/, last accessed2020/12/12.