Lunchtime Learning: The Restorative Impact of Perceived Open Space

  • Date

    Wednesday, December 07 2022

  • Time

    12:00pm - 1:00pm

  • Location


In this course we explore the impact of interior environments on human performance and wellness. We explore the role natural daylight and perceived open space play in modulating cognitive function, and how we can engage our memories of natural environments to enhance occupant health and productivity in enclosed interiors. The course introduces a cognitive approach to design that underscores the value of perceived open space as a restorative attribute that engages our biophilic memory. Two spatial reference frames present in nature, the perceived zenith, the highest point above the observer, and the perceived horizon line, the farthest point before the observer, can be recreated in an enclosed interior space by staging an appropriate illusion to alter our perception of space. Recreating these fundamental spatial maps through an effective illusion enables a range of wellness benefits normally associated with interiors applying more traditional biophilic design principles.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain why reducing daylight to its elemental components, brightness (irradiance) and color temperature, in enclosed interiors can alter our perception of daylight’s inherent spatial nature.
  • Discuss the role circadian photoreceptors and retinal cones play in regulating circadian entrainment and how the environmental context in which our physiology detects daylight is as important is the light itself.
  • Describe the neural pathways that link our sensorimotor system (how we move through space) with executive function (how we think), thereby generating our sense of place.
  • Summarize the malleable nature of human perception and how bi-sensory illusions in enclosed interiors can evoke spatial memories to alter our perception of those spaces.

Presented by: 

Geof Northridge

Mr. Northridge has extensive experience in both commercial real estate and the commercial construction industry. For the past ten years he has been developing and presenting continuing education courses on topics including the effect of biophilic design elements on human physiology, how biophilic illusions can be created to provide many of the same physiological benefits as actual biophilic design elements, and how knowledge of the mechanics of human perception can be paired with carefully crafted illusions of nature to alter how humans experience interior spaces. He has presented Sky Factory’s various AIA-approved continuing education courses more than 500 times to architectural and design firms as well as to AIA chapter meetings and other events.

Organized by:

Sky Factory