An interdisciplinary research project investigating the relationship
between biomorphic design, architectural neuroaesthetics and neural inflammation
in the built environment.

A research project by Cleo Valentine︎︎︎


Evolution is a self-organizing process in which the experience of beauty is our reward for participation (Turner, 1992).

By 2050, almost 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban centres (UN, 2018). The trend towards increasing global urbanisation has attracted considerable scholarship with respect to the effect that this change will have on society (Rice and Drane, 2020). Over the last ten years, a number of studies have considered the implications of architectural design with respect to human health and wellness (Goldhagen, 2017).  Much of this research has focussed on factors such as air quality, noise levels and personal safety (Goldhagen, 2017).  It has been suggested that architectural form may also impact public health (Coburn et al., 2017; Seresinhe et al., 2015).  There is some evidence that biomorphic design, which embodies natural forms, creates less stress in the body than synthetic design (Norwood et al., 2019).  Of interest, is that physiological stress can cause neuro-inflammation (Harvard, 2020).  To date, there have been no studies on the relationship between biomorphic design and neuro-inflammatory responses. Given that neuro-inflammation has been implicated in a number of serious health conditions (Chen et al., 2016), the importance of research in this area cannot be overstated.  Using Multinomial Latent Logistic Regression (MLLR) machine learning image analysis in combination with Virtual Reality (VR) projection, quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG) and clinical biomarker measurements, this study will demonstrate the effect of biomorphic patterns within the built environment on specific physiological responses which are indicative of neuroinflammation.


Although existing research has established the relationship between biomorphic design and physiological stress responses, and between physiological stress responses and neuro-inflammation, this study seeks to close the gap by establishing more directly, the impact that biomorphic design has on human neurological inflammatory responses.  The full impact of neuro-inflammation on human health is not well understood but this condition has been implicated in a range of pathologies from anxiety and depression to neuro-degenerative disorders (Harrison et al., 2017;  Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2015).  The magnitude and severity of this problem is highly consequential.  In 2019, for example, an estimated 1 in 6 people suffered from a neurodegenerative condition in the UK alone (Neurological Alliance, 2019).  Although these conditions may arise as a result of multiple aetiologies, synthetic design may be a contributing factor.  If in fact this is the case, this research, which examines not only biomorphic 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.