Everyone is looking for happiness. There are no exceptions to this. What makes people happy determines which steps they take and which means they use for this, but the goal remains the same. The pursuit of happiness is therefore universal. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, considered that pursuit of happiness such an important right that he had it incorporated into the constitution.
Happiness gives energy and self-confidence and leads to helpfulness and creativity. In addition, happiness contributes to better health: Happiness lowers blood pressure, improves the immune system and even leads to fewer road accidents. So we can say that happiness is a precious commodity. By the way, happiness does not depend on the amount of money. In fact, materialism often leads to loneliness and, conversely, happiness can counter materialism. Someone who is happy is more likely to be satisfied.
The role of architecture in happiness
Happiness is in a small corner, so the saying goes. How nice would it be if we could always find that corner because we designed or made it ourselves? Can architecture help make people happy? We think so. In fact, we know for sure and do not just base ourselves on our own passion for architecture.
Environmental psychologists conducted extensive research into the perception of the environment and space in the human brain. This shows, among other things, that color plays an enormous role in our happiness experience. For example, an environment with a lot of gray and black puts the happiness hormones on the back burner. They turn on bright colors such as white, green and blue. The same applies to a space without versus with daylight or a bare space opposite a decorated space. It is of course easy to include this in the choice of color and design. But also by taking into account how the space will be used, luck has a better chance. For example, research shows that social activity causes us to produce endorphins. The same goes for casual chat. Contact, even with a stranger, has proven to be happier. In both cases, the released endorphins also result in relaxation so that we feel a bond of trust more quickly. This also benefits the cohesion with fellow users.
In any case, this cohesion plays a major role in whether and how happiness is experienced. The feeling of belonging or belonging to something or a group contributes to the feeling of happiness. In contrast, exclusion leads to the activation of the same nerves and hormones as in physical pain. Subjects who were left alone in a bare space without distraction for 6 to 10 minutes during a study experienced this as annoying and very negative. Incidentally, exclusion is different from isolation. Because all studies also show that it must be possible to seek peace if there is a need for it.
It is striking that people in the West associate happiness with fun, activity and even excitement. In the East, on the other hand, the word happiness evokes tranquility and equanimity. So there is something to be said for both. By designing a space in such a way that social interaction and fun are stimulated, but there is also room for relaxation and reflection, it can therefore contribute to the happiness of the users.
Sustainability versus happiness
We said it before. Happiness contributes to better health. Conversely, poor health gets in the way of happiness. A brain that is too busy or over-stimulated, for example, results in a body that is not feeling well. And while we're on the subject; that is the new smoking if we are to believe the latest insights. The choice of materials or technology also determines the well-being of body and limb. We are all familiar with the term 'sick building syndrome'. A poorly designed or furnished building can literally make people sick. Nobody is happy about that. A space that encourages a light distraction in the form of a short walk, getting up for a while, or even getting some air already works wonders. But the choice for sustainable materials, healthy climate control and, for example, a kitchen where healthy food is of paramount importance do the rest.
In conclusion, we can say that architecture determines the degree to which the users of a space or building experience happiness. That is a wonderful fact. In any case, it makes us very happy!