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Start-up at Schiphol is working on an environment that stimulates the brain

The spaces in which we spend our time nowadays are completely different than the environments that people have lived in over the past few centuries. We spend the majority of our days indoors, sitting down. That’s never been the case before. In the course of the last few decades, our brains have not been able to adjust to our new living and working environments. It’s a known fact that this has had a negative impact on the condition of our brains. And that condition is important for our functioning.

A team made up of designers and one psychologist has begun a project at Schiphol to research ways of creating a working environment that stimulates our brains. They are doing this under the name ‘Enrichers’, which refers to the goal of enriching our working environment. Enrichers is researching and designing spaces that optimise neurological functioning. The start-up is working alongside Cambridge University and the work is being supported by Schiphol Real Estate.

‘A healthy brain makes us more resilient, happier and healthier’, says designer Govert Flint. ‘Just as we have to exercise our heart to stay physically fit, our brains also need to work out to stay in shape. Our environment plays a key role in this. What’s more, it also affects our performance, productivity and on how often we have to call in sick. We will be using the temporary space we have been allotted at The Base as a research space. The idea is that people will soon be able to use it as a temporary work or meeting space. In exchange, we are asking them to take part in our study. For example, we can establish how the setting affects the stress levels of people who are active in our office lab environment.’

‘Work environments are often low-stimulus spaces. While this lack of distraction may seem effective, it’s actually not. We have therefore developed three meeting spaces that each contain five different types of stimulating elements, but which are all designed differently. We want to find out who picks up on which aspects of these enriched environments, in order to understand how we can make the best use of environmental stimuli. We will use this knowledge to design new objects and services that enrich our everyday environment – ranging from office environments to areas or even cities.”

“Environmental Enrichment is uncharted territory with a big future. It has proven to have a wide range of positive effects on behaviour and brain activity. On a physical level, enriching the environment results in the production of new nerve cells and improves the brain’s capacity to adapt. That is even important in the prevention of brain disorders. Isn’t it great to be able to contribute to this?’ Want to know more? Check www.enrichers.nl

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