Do you believe that if communities design their structures and buildings, they’re most likely to be healthy and happy?

You better believe it, because according to Darwin’s theory, animals are drawn upon things or settings where they can perform best. For human beings, this simply means environments and cities which grants them the balanced combination of both home and learning. While it’s true we can’t fly, smell or even swim very well, we thrive in a sea of information; and this is something that we’re excellent at. When there’s a piece of new environmental information, we can track it down better than a trained bloodhound.

What Makes an Attractive Space?

Human beings are attracted to spaces that tickle our interest: especially if it means it has that added mystery and complex setting. While it’s true that it’s easier to navigate and live in a community where the American street grids are orderly laid out, our mind unknowingly takes joy in complexity and prefers seeing streets that curve out until we can no longer see what’s on the other end. That alone attracts us: the mystery of what lies beyond the other end of the curve, one that teases us and calls us to find out what’s in there. Subconsciously, we like environments that tease our curious minds, but at the same time, satisfies them as well.

An environment can be considered legible if it’s straightforward – easy to read, one that you can see where you’re heading to from a distance. But other than that, there must be additional elements that add an oomph of mystery, calling our already curious mind and asking us to find the right way to take, similar to the African forests and trees where we came from.

When it comes to landscapes, again, a balance of legibility and mystery attract us; a landscape should be orderly, but complex at the same time. Natural scenes and the outdoors are filled with geometric structures, all of which combines both order and complexity. These geometric patterns are the inspiration behind building details, window frames, mighty Hindu temple domes and even how London’s streets were practically configured.

How and Why We Create Our Environment

The common structures that all of us are familiar with today originated from the complex structures of everything around us, including our brain and body. Our neurological system alone is designed with various shapes and patterns, and the same goes for our body’s anatomy, starting from our cell, lungs and other body systems. Before, buildings changed and evolved organically, starting with the use of wood materials turned into stone. A lot of locations evolved slowly – the roads now follow the land’s contour and fill these spaces.

Sadly, a lot of these have been long gone, as the 21st century turned from a relaxed to a fast-paced life. The majority of the buildings, locations and everyday spaces now focus on community, creativity, and our overall well-being. With that being said, how can we live and co-exist in a world that we want to define us? According to WikiHouse co-founder Alastair Parvin, what people define as bad design isn’t technically a bad one. It simply means that it’s a design that’s created for an atypical economic outcome, which in turn gives birth to real estate. WikiHouse is considered as an open platform for constructing cheaper and cost-effective home spaces.

In order for people to create homes that are suited to their personal needs, you need to offer them access to tools and applications such as 2d 3d floor plan software that allow them to co-create and co-design not just their own home, but even their workspaces, streets, and the entire community. If people are involved during this creation, it will give them a sense of pride – something that lets them appreciate and even nurture their own space and community that they live in – also referred to as the collective efficacy. It has been proven that if a community has a high rate of collective efficacy, the tendency of committing crimes, vandalising properties and initiating litter becomes lower.

If we live in places where there is collective efficacy, whether it’s a half-house from Chile, or homes for the urban farmers in the Detroit area, the order and complexity combined are also seen to be healthy places for everyone to live in. For that resilient future, not just for us, but also for our kids, our grandchildren, it is our role to actively make ourselves available in shaping and designing our environment.