Psychology and Architecture

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Architec ture and psychology in the 20th century: archet ypes of human need and sanity In this dissertation I would like to demonstrate how the entire history of the modernist project has tended to mirror the evolution of the discipline of psychology – the scientific study of human behaviour. Although the term ‘architectural psychology’ was not coined until the 1970s, I would like to argue that the impact of psychology from the turn of the century to the present has been profound. In general, historical accounts of architecture have hitherto placed designers in their cultural context while mysteriously ignoring the psychological movements which helped fuel those cultural shifts. For example, most historical accounts of architecture by authors such as Pevsner1 or Frampton2 seemingly ignore the influence of the rise of psychology in the 20th century – including psycho-analysis, socio-biology, social anthropology, behaviourism, social psychology, Maslow, Erikson, and evolutionary psychology on movements such as surrealism, constructivism, structuralism, determinist urban planning, and humane or ‘healing’ architecture. I will give a critical account of how I believe psychology has shaped architecture, either consciously or unconsciously, and how the psychological vision of the architect or planner has matured from representational, through deterministic to ‘interactionist’. Alain De Botton’s recent book ‘The Architecture of Happiness’3 concludes “Bad architecture is in the end as much a failure of psychology as of design.” However, there is little within his book to support this assertion. During this dissertation I have attempted to carry out a systematic review1 of the history of ‘architectural psychology’ in order to show that a better understanding of (i) the psychology of the architect, (ii) the psychology of the end user , including issues of personal space, identity and universal ‘innate’ needs, and (iii) how the user interacts with his immediate...
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