Creating A Restorative Environment Open Access
Downloadable ContentDownload PDF
In today’s fast-paced world, stress is an ever-present aspect of daily life. Prolonged levels of stress can negatively impact mental and physical health, and humans naturally crave relief. Psychoneuroimmunology – the study of how psychological processes directly affect the nervous and immune systems – serves as the cornerstone of this thesis project, which combines architecture and nature to provide a restorative environment that improves overall health. A human experiences stress in reaction to a challenging event, and the body immediately prepares for fight or flight. The internal response of the sympathetic nervous system – the adrenal gland’s secretion of epinephrine — can be acute, meaning short-term; episodic, meaning that it occurs incidentally; or chronic, meaning constant. While acute stress does not necessarily have long-term effects on the body, studies show episodic and chronic stress can deplete the body’s physical and mental resources, resulting in long-term impairment. Psychoneuroimmunology studies these interactions and their wide-ranging impacts on daily life.According to environmental psychological research, restorative environments can help speed the body’s recovery processes. The leading viewpoint in this field is the Attention Restoration Theory (ART). ART hypothesizes that higher mental concentration can be achieved after people spend time in nature or look at scenes of nature. This theory will be applied when creating an environment that promotes healing.Though healing environments vary based on the specific needs of an individual, they typically feature several common components, all of which are thoroughly explored in this project. An extensive review of journals, medical texts, and studies revealed the most marked benefits of natural settings – both managed and wild – and health settings, such as spas and other man-made facilities. By combining design and nature, while consulting the environmental psychology of ART to encourage healing, this thesis project demonstrates how creating a restorative environment can significantly increase mental and physical health and meaningfully improve one’s life.