Hippocampus

15 September, 2017

"Your brain is as big as a coconut, the shape of a walnut, the colour of the uncooked liver and the consistency of chilled butter."

Rita Carter, Science Writer

The word Hippocampus derives from ancient Latin for seahorse.  The hippocampus controls memory (short and long term), navigation and spatial orientation.  This area of the brain is of special interest to architects because how it is used defines how good we become at spatial design and therefore our job.  The more you test and stimulate your hippocampus, quite simply, the better architect you will become.  When people say success is through hard work, persistence and perspiration, science now confirms this 100%.

So by sketching more, making more models, visiting more beautiful architecture, reading more architectural books, science has proven you can become a better architect.  The hippocampus part of our brain enhances our ability to navigate space and orientate materials within that space.  If used, it grows stronger and creates more physical haptic connections synaptically to the hand - if you are sketching more, your ability to recall sketching memory is strengthened and increases.  Whether it is linked or not, I do not know, but I have always had an ability to recall memories of spaces and moments that touch me.  I can recall so vividly sitting in Seisembra in Portugal wandering the back streets, hearing a communal chit chat, smelling an outside barbecue, arriving at the square, ordering sardines directly with the chef and of course eating them with local wine.  I can never forget the phenomenological experience of that meal.  I can close my eyes and smell those sardines and I can draw the entire scene right now including tables, people, buildings, light and the atmosphere.  That is thanks to my hippocampus.

It has even been proven recently by science that the firing of memory cells occur without us knowing or even realising.  This enables us to orientate ourselves within a city or a plan when the physical thing is not there, we can recall it, live inside it, and give people advice about it all because our hippocampus helps us retrieve it.  Our brain observes the present when we are concentrating on something else to allow us to recall things if needed in the future.  Our brain and hippocampus has 'got our back'.  Architects need to feed this part of the brain to become more expert in their field.