Architectural Neuroimmunology:
An interdisciplinary research project
exploring the impact of architectural
form on neuroinflammation


It is estimated that residents in developed economies spend up to 95.6% of their time in or around the built environment. This trend towards increased architectural exposure has attracted considerable research, particularly concerning its effects on human health. However, there is still relatively little known about the impact of architectural form on the human brain. The field of neuroarchitecture has emerged in an attempt to bridge this gap. From this scholarship, researchers have found evidence that exposure to specific variations in architectural form may mediate physiological stress responses within the body.

However, the significance of these findings may be greater than previously understood. Evidence from the field of neuroimmunology strongly suggests a causal relationship between physiological stress and neuroinflammation. Neuroinflammation, in turn, has been implicated in the development of multiple neurological disorders, including depression, dementia and schizophrenia.

What has yet to be directly considered, however, is the relationship between architectural design and neuroinflammation. In response, this research investigates the impact of visual exposure to selected architectural forms on neuroinflammatory responses. In doing so, this research aims to establish the field of architectural neuroimmunology and to support the creation of a healthier built environment.

This research is jointly funded by Cambridge Trust and Wolfson College’s Mary Hesse PhD Scholarship.


Although existing research has established the relationship between architectural form and physiological stress responses, and between physiological stress responses and neuroinflammation, this study seeks to close the gap by establishing more directly, the impact that architectural design has on neurological inflammatory responses.  While the full impact of neuroinflammation on human health is not well understood, this condition has been implicated in a range of pathologies from anxiety and depression to neurodegenerative disorders.  

The magnitude and severity of this problem is highly consequential. In 2021, for example, neurodegenerative conditions were the fifth leading cause of death globally. Furthermore, one out of four hospital beds in the United Kingdom is currently occupied by someone over 65 living with dementia. Although these conditions may arise as a result of multiple aetiologies, visual exposure to synthetic architectural forms may be a contributing factor. If in fact this is the case, this research, which examines not only architectural forms but virtual reality experiences of these forms, lends itself to a number of practical and cost-efficient solutions. These kinds of interventions may be critical in the future in developing a built environment which promotes human wellness and is consequently more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.


Architectural Allostatic Overloading: Exploring a Connection between Architectural Form and Allostatic Overloading
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2023

Health Implications of Virtual Architecture: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Transferability of Findings from Neuroarchitecture
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2023

The Impact of Architectural Form on Physiological Stress: A Systematic Review
Frontiers in Computer Science, 2024

Architectural Neuroimmunology: A Pilot Study Examining the Impact of Biophilic Architectural Design on Neuroinflammation Using Quantitative Electroencephalography
Publication Forthcoming, 2024

Neuroarchitecture and Bioethics: Investigating Ethical Implications of Recent Advances in the Field of Neuroarchitecture
Publication Forthcoming, 2024


Cleo is a Vice Chancellor's Doctoral Scholar at the University of Cambridge. Her research, conducted under joint supervision from the Department of Architecture and the Computational Neuroscience Group, focuses on examining the impact of visual exposure to architectural forms on allostatic activity and neuroinflammatory responses. In doing so, this research aims to establish the emerging field of architectural neuroimmunology. Cleo has delivered lectures on neuroarchitecture and architectural neuroimmunology at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the University of Cambridge, and the London School of Architecture. She has held positions as the Neuroaesthetics Fellow at The Centre for Conscious Design and as a guest tutor at the Royal College of Art and the Architecture Association in London. She is currently an affiliated researcher at the University College London Spatial Cognition Lab and an associate at Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd., where she provides consultancy services on public health and architecture.

Cleo holds an MPhil in Architecture and Urban Studies from the University of Cambridge, an MSc in Sustainable Urban Development from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s in Urban Systems and Economics from McGill University and the University of Copenhagen.