The brain-friendly hotel
What have you done for your brain lately?
Health spas have been around for generations, some evolving into highly sophisticated places that focus on rejuvenating our bodies.
In a knowledge-based economy it makes sense to consider where and how our best ideas happen so we can design places that rejuvenate our brains. And anyone concerned with the aging mind should become aware of the kinds of places that nurture – as well as those that kill – neural connections.
Consider the shower, for example. How often have we suddenly become aware of a better way forward when we’ve allowed our minds to wander without distractions? How much does the water help in this process? What other ingredients go into our epiphanies?
What are some of the social situations and physical settings that prompt ah-ha moments?
Now consider the reality of most conference hotels from the perspective of nurturing brain waves. Typically, these places are brain-numbing knowledge deserts. How different might hotels be if we applied lessons learned from the design of knowledge-intensive workplaces? Such as open kitchen gathering spaces, attractive serendipitous meeting areas and natural clustered seating for conversation. Heck, we might even consider an updated, neuro-friendly, amorphous version of the 1950-70’s conversation pit (with universal accessibility, of course).
Studies that link neuroscience and design offer clues as to qualities that might make up the brain-friendly hotel of the future. The AIA’s Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture’s mission is to “…promote and advance knowledge that links neuroscience research to a growing understanding of human responses to the built environment.”
Carlton architecture director Marco Frascari has pointed out that it is common to create places devoted to shopping, entertainment and worship – why is it so rare to find places for better thinking? And why not a hotel that is designed with our neurons in mind?
– Sharon VanderKaay