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Building Minds: The Impact of Neuroarchitecture in Schools

Updated: 3 days ago

Neuroarchitecture is the fascinating combination of neuroscience and architecture. Do you ever think of the amount of time we spend indoors? The average person is indoors for 80-90% of their waking hours, meaning it's important to spend time in spaces that make us feel positive.

School children are going through crucial developmental stages as they grow older and begin to notice the world around them more. The first years of life are the most important for their learning and growth, paving the way for their personality, character and self-esteem. Each person who uses the space will process it differently, meaning there are no ‘rules’ of neuroarchitecture, simply things to consider when designing a space.


Humans need to feel like they belong and desire to be part of a social group, this theory spread and was adapted into neuroarchitecture to focus on the human need to feel like part of a physical space. The brain positively decodes good memories, so investing in audio, visual and scent is important when designing a space that people will feel they belong to. This has been said to have a positive impact on academic achievement, mental health and self-esteem.

To increase the feeling of belonging, design spaces that encourage social interaction, spaces such as school halls, dining rooms, and play areas are all examples of this. Create an environment which allows for both teacher and peer interaction. This can be done in a dining hall by building an area where students can dine with their peers and their teachers, building a sense of community. Focus on facilities that inspire gatherings and social events, such as auditoriums where students can perform, events can be held peer-to-peer relationships can begin to thrive.  


Creating spaces that give children a sense of freedom has been shown to impact their social and emotional development positively. Children with greater freedom generally have a greater interest in and enjoyment of learning. This can help children develop social skills, community involvement and even leadership qualities as they are free to express themselves and explore their personalities.

Create a home-like environment to promote freedom, children will feel like they can make choices and decisions, take risks and be themselves. This can be done by;

  • Choosing home-like furniture such as couches and armchairs that children can choose to relax or learn in, add throws and cushions to create an even more inviting environment.

  • Creating calmness and freshness by including plants in your design.

  • Avoiding harsh lighting, replacing it with natural lighting from windows or soft lighting using lamps.

  • Adding personality to the room by incorporating rugs, repurposed furniture, and ‘family’ photos of children and staff.

  • Displaying any artwork to showcase children's creativity.

  • Using neutral or pastel colours to ensure that the environment is not visually overwhelming.


A sense of purpose will increase motivation, engagement and achievement in schools. Children who have a sense of purpose are often more confident in their abilities and feel as though they have greater control of their futures. Implementing biophilic design will have a positive impact on children’s cognitive development, well-being and physical health – and it will also encourage a connection to the natural world, giving children a sense of purpose as they learn to care for the natural environment.

Giving children something to care for, such as a school pet is a great way to encourage a sense of purpose. Children will learn about the species of the animal, their welfare needs and personalities. Interacting with animals can reduce stress and anxiety, decrease depression and even increase academic achievement. You should ensure that the animal’s habitat meets standard recommendations for the species and that the children’s safety isn’t compromised.

To summarise, the understanding and implementation of neuroscientific research in schools will have a positive impact on the emotional, cognitive and physical development and well-being of students. By creating a sense of purpose, belonging and freedom in schools you can improve students’ resilience and long-term health and development.


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