Research Essay

Meherun Mim
FIQWS: Architecture
Research Essay – Children’s Spaces Fall 2018
Prof. Dalton

Impact of Architecture on Children’s Cognitive Development

The architecture of the built environment around us plays a great role in our lives from childhood. The artifacts included in the build environment are capable of teaching children so many thing details about the world and about themselves. Every interaction a child has with the built environment around them teaches them something important about the world which can be very valuable in there later on. As children take actions, fails, and learns from their experience, the built environment around them becomes a form of a teacher as well. Therefore, as the environment of a child’s surroundings is a form of a teacher which affects their cognitive development during the early childhood stages, the architecture of that built environment becomes essential to their moral view of the world.

The way children perceive the world from their early developing stages is how they continue to look at the world even later during their life. During this developmental stage, a child observes everything around them, their parents, toys, the food they’re eating, the way one behaving with another including the space and the structure of the space they are in most of their days. Observing their surrounding allows the children to form an identity of their own as they start learning about their culture, their family values, and traditions. As they observe the spaces surrounding them, the child starts to create a bond with things there. The artifacts in that space teach them important details about life and about themselves. According to the book, Children, Spaces and Identity, by Sánchez Romero, Margarita, Alarcón García, Eva, Aranda Jiménez, Gonzalo, “the story of the three Australian aboriginal girls who are removed from their hometown and sent to a school situated far away… heir escape and return home constitutes… feeling of connection and belonging to a place…” (Sánchez, Pg.4). These lines follow the idea that the connectedness to a place can help a child build their identity which relates to that place. The structure and the artifacts present in that area will allow them to remember the memory they have created when they were there. Such cases relate to children whose family migrates to other countries or cities, as my family and I experienced. The different architecture and the look of the areas can be sometimes traumatizing for young children as they were already attached to what they were exposed to prior. Thus, shifting that bond sometimes becomes impossible as some people move back, as shown by Sanchez, or stay and try to adjust in the new built environment around them.

The built environment of a child’s surrounding also allows them to build relationships with one another. Since birth, children are always carried around by parents as parents perform their daily tasks. From a certain point in their earlier developing stage, children follow around their parents or the guardian by which they learn to comprehend the world. Different children build different kinds of relationships as not all children grow up with parents who become their best friends or main caretaker. According to Sanchez’s book, “Since birth, Kusasi’s babies are carried on their mother’s back while she performs the domestic chores and takes care of household members, as well as of the activities taking place outdoors such as the movement to agricultural fields or to the markets…” (Sanchez, Pg.92). These lines illustrate how the children growing up in rural areas would build their relationships with their parents as they live in open wide areas which have its unique architectural setup. As their houses are built differently and have open wide areas for them to play, this unique architectural setup of the countryside allows children to get a perspective about how their parents are and how are they being raised, which is completely different from the children who reside in cities.

A child growing up in urban areas and building their relationship with their caregiver would be a completely different procedure. As I have experienced, children in urban areas spend most of their days indoor with a nanny or a different caregiver while their parents are away at work. The city consists of all kinds of privacy. As stated in the article, The Purposes of Sidewalks: Contact, by Jane Jacobs, “Architectural and planning literature deals with privacy in terms of windows, overlooks, sight lines…” (Jacobs, Pg.59). This quote represents a visual illustration of how most city buildings are made where nothing can be seen inside from outside, also not a lot can be seen outside from inside the windows. These children perceive the world differently comparing to the children growing up in a farm in rural areas as they receive much less sunlight and isn’t as companionable. The different building structures and the designing of their artifacts around these children impact their social skills as these children would grow up antisocial and take approaches to build relationships with others. As stated in the article, The Use of Sidewalks: Assimilating Children, by Jane Jacobs, “These pale and rickety children, in their sinister moral environment, are telling each other sex, sniggering evilly…” (Jacobs, 74). The poor architectural environment which allowed these children the street to play around and grow up rather than playground influence these unpleasant teachings. Comparing to the child who follows their parents at a farm all day long won’t be able to get a similar impression of life as the children who see their parents for a very short period of time because they’re away. Thus, the built environment around make our lives different from others which influence children to build certain types of relationship as they grow up and bond with people who cross their path of life.

In addition, the built environment around children allows them to learn and expand their understanding of the world on a regular basis, the architectural designs of the built environment should be constructed with special care and instructions to suit the learning and growth perspective. Especially, areas such as school building or day care centers, where children spend the most time of the day, should be constructed in a way where not only the teachers force the students to learn, but the building itself and the physical environment influence the students to learn better. As a library in a school building is important for children to be exposed to so that they are aware of the importance of reading the writing and educating themselves, an assembly room and a gymnasium for sports are as well very necessary in that school building. According to the book, Children’s Spaces, by Mark Dudek, “an assembly room designed to host the entire school for regular community gatherings… building a sense of community… and a hall that is designed primarily for sport… the value of community is equal or secondary to physical education” (Dudek, Pg. 46). These lines follow the idea that while building a school building, architecture must be aware of the necessary areas that must be included in the design. It becomes very necessary for students and especially children to be aware that their physical abilities to play sports is as important as their mental abilities as solving math questions or writing properly.

Based on my experience, sports time allows children to learn more and have an open mind than just doing what is told to do with specific instructions in a classroom. Giving them open outdoor spaces to play allow them to be exposed to the fresh air and direct sunlight rather than being locked up in a classroom all day long. This outdoor will change children’s mood and create a team vibe which builds a sense of community spirit where play for each other more than playing with each other. This ideal follows the idea of having an assembly room where all students can gather together and learn the importance of having unity and solidarity. Therefore, while building an environment for children, it must be the main priority of the builder to have areas which are positively influencing children to learn and expand their mindset.

As the physical design of the built environment is a very important aspect of the architecture around us, the lightings and colors are as important to complete the design. From an early age, children start to form a concept of the world when visible colors surrounding them becomes a major part of the world they perceive. Children tend to be aware of the differences in colors even before they learn the names of the colors. According to the article, Emotional knowledge engineering: Children as our innocent opponents in urban spaces’ ownership, by Anahita Mohammadi, Mohammadmehdi Khabiri, “For children this is the color that is pure and precise and capable of showing the true meaning of what they have in mind, not the use of form and images” (Mohammadi, Pg.2). These lines exemplify, how through colors children tend to express their thoughts and feelings. Different colors of lightings show different actions done such as “Yellow and orange colors transfer a positive and pure thrill to the children… while brown and grey show negative sensational load… [and] sensational feelings to the children and their cause” (Mohammadi, Pg.3). Therefore, the color of the architectural design must be chosen carefully as the colors also affect the cognitive development of young children.

In addition, the architecture for the children’s spaces such as hospitals are another important built environment for children as it is one place, they are required to visit for the rest of their lives. A good perspective of a hospital area can encourage them for the rest of their lives to continue to visit and be healthy while traumatizing experiences of the built environment will do the opposite. As sick children who are admitted to the hospitals and fighting diseases, they still want to be exposed to the best things available in the hospitals. As stated in the article, Children’s Emotional Responses to a Pediatric Hospital Atrium, by Donna Koller and Coralee McLaren, “Just as children show preferences for spaces that offer play and leisure, they also recognize that decor within the environment can induce pleasure and alleviate stress…” (Koller, Pg. 453). These lines show the importance of having a convenient and valuable architectural design which can encourage children to be happy all the time. As a matter of fact, color was a major aspect when the children were asked about the hospital’s architectural structure and design. “The majority of children expressed positive emotional responses for bright colors over other colors. These preferences appear to hold true for children in pediatric settings as well” (Koller, Pg. 453). Bright lightings are truly capable of brightening children’s mood. Therefore, from a young age, children would learn to view the world in a manner where brighter colors or lights would automatically brighten up their moods.

All in all, architectural designs and setup is a major part of people’s lives as they are surrounded by their built environment. The built environment is a form of a teacher which affects their cognitive development during the early childhood stages when the architectural aspect of the environment really shapes their moral view of the world. Children learn to perceive the world by bonding with the built environment that they are exposed to the most such as the playground they visit their entire childhood. Also, a built environment allows children to form relationships and have an open mind about how different the world can be while inappropriate settings can damage their development. This built environment includes the color and the lighting of the areas where these children spend most of their days at. Therefore, being successful at having a proper, respectable architectural setup of the built environment that the children are always surrounded by can really shape their childhood and build them up into perceiving the world with a positive moral view.


  • Dudek, Mark. Children’s Spaces. Routledge, 2005. e000xna, ccny- &db=e000xna&AN=166185&site=ehost-live. Accessed 14 Oct. 2018.
  • Sánchez Romero Margarita, et al. Children, Spaces and Identity. Oxbow Books, 2015. e000xna, ccny- &db=e000xna&AN=1131579&site=ehost-live. Accessed 22 Oct. 2018
  • “Http://” 2017, doi:10.18411/a-2017-023.
  • Koller, Donna, and Coralee Mclaren. “Children’s Emotional Responses to a Paediatric Hospital Atrium.” Children & Society, vol. 28, no. 6, Nov. 2014, pp. 451–464. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/chso.12002.
  • “The Purposes of Sidewalks: Contact” and “The Purposes of Sidewalks: The Assimilation of Children,” by Jane Jacobs “The Purposes of Sidewalks: Contact” and “The Purposes of Sidewalks: The Assimilation of Children,” by Jane Jacobs
  • My experience on the effects of migration from small cities to big cities where the children might not be able to adapt to a newer condition as quickly. Also, the experience on how children learn the best and what effect the architecture has on the children in school or classroom environments.