The Neuroaesthetics of New Union South

What makes art so attractive?  What makes architecture inspiring?  What makes the new Union South at the University of Wisconsin – Madison so effing sweet?  The answers may lie in your brain.  Here are three new features of the Union South that make our brain go crazy:

1. Symmetrical Lines:

In a paper published in the Journal of Vision, our brains are extremely sensitive to symmetry.  We have certain cells that are sensitive to the orientation of the light hitting our eyes.  When these bands are present in architecture, more cells are activated leading to a greater response.  In the Stett, a restaurant/stage of the Union South, clean lines cross the stage.

2. Color:

The brightly colored union chairs are back!  Sure, you knew that you loved them over at the Memorial Union, but why?  Harvard University pinpointed where color is excited within our brain.  Near the back of the brain, just below our temples, we can see a burst of activity.  The more colors that we see and experience, the more activated our brains will be.  I guess the crayon ‘tickle me pink’ kind of makes sense now…

3.  Juxtaposition:

What makes one view stand out over another?  A Stanford review tells us that the fusiform gyrus has cells that respond to specific orientations.  When something, like the new rock wall, has different angles and points, multiple cells are active and excite a larger area of our brain.  Different walls = different cells = no way I’m making it to the top.

Looks like Union South is doing everything right in order to give us the exciting experience in mind (pun intended).


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