Over the past few days, Nikos Salingaros has three new essays in Metropolis, the magazine of architecture, design and culture. His writing, with frequent literary partner Michael Mehaffy, has appeared in Metropolis before. These latest essays track his research and thinking on the influence of neurobiology on architectural preference. He argues that people like traditional buildings and streetscapes because they are designed in ways that are healthy and emotionally nourishing, insofar as they reflect the biological processes of reproduction and development that have evolved since prehistoric times.
Salingaros, who is a mathematician and theorist of architecture and urbanism at the University of Texas in San Antonio, and teaches at universities around the world, has focused the three essays thus far on a phenomenon called biophilia – literally, the love of living things – which, when it guides design, produces healing environments.
This is from the first essay, “Why We Should Be Living in ‘Living’ Houses“:
[One] source of biophilia comes from biological structure itself: the geometrical rules of biological forms with which we share a template. This structure is believed to elicit a general response in humans of recognizable “kinship” that cuts across the divide between living and inanimate form. Manmade structures with basic properties in common with our own bodies resonate, “strumming the strings” of our biophilia. Mechanisms of living structure are either the same, or they parallel the basic organization of biological systems. Biophilia, therefore, mixes the geometrical properties and elements of landscape with complex structures found in — and common to — all living forms.
There will be ten essays in the entire series, according to an editor’s note introducing the articles. Here are the second, “What Do Light, Color, Gravity, and Fractals Have To Do With Our Well-Being?” and the third, “What Kind of Design Triggers Healing?”
By the way, Metropolis is to be commended for running material that, because it can be interpreted as contradicting the established wisdom of architecture today, might be excluded from other journals of design.