Human Oriented Architecture & Design / Psychological Aesthetics


Our society, and with it the production of architecture and design, is becoming increasingly heterogeneous and diverse. This process holds a high dynamic and the potential to bring many different lifeworlds into dialogue with each other. But there is also a widespread “unease with modernity” (Charles Taylor) in view of the fragmentation of our common space, the built environment: Unquestionably, there are many artificial environments that threaten rather than support well-being and health.

However, good designers have applied aesthetic experiential knowledge with great intuitive purposefulness for millennia. Through the development of empirical psychology with its many facets and the neurosciences, this knowledge can finally be made visible as a coherent pattern of human aesthetic needs. But biology, systems theory, semiotics and, of course, philosophy also have much to contribute to a holistic view of people’s aesthetic experience.

The scientific backgrounds, understanding and working models dealt with in this Master’s focus topic will provide you with a horizon on the effect of environments on people that is unusually broad in design disciplines. But also the application of this knowledge in analysis and creation (incl. health buildings/healing architecture/health design) makes this Master’s focus topic a specialisation offer rarely found in Europe, which can give you a great conceptual head start.


What are the visual qualities that make things and designed environments (e.g. architecture and interior design) beautiful, pleasant, threatening, repulsive, calming or stimulating for us? What is “good” form in the respective context? What is the scientific background of popular buzz words like design thinking, deep empathy, healing architecture, evidence-based design, storytelling or user experience, and how is it all related to well-being, aesthetic experience and needs? And above all: how can I – as a designer or architect – influence the feelings, reactions, performance, motivation and well-being of users through the targeted use of structures, forms, light, spatiality, light and colour?

How can this influence be condensed within atmospheres and impressions, through simplicity and complexity, through semiotic references and abstraction into overall designs of high coherence?

A new justifiability of design quality can make the ambition and work of architects and designers much more independent of aesthetic dogmas and socio-cultural trends. But even design that conforms to the zeitgeist can gain new depth through psychological, or better, metadisciplinary aesthetic reflection, which unevitably will intensify the relationship to the user. Not only health architecture and design benefit from such approaches, but all environments in which people dwell.

Study goals

In our Master’s focus topic “Human-oriented Architecture and Design / Psychological Aesthetics”, you will work (also in context with the Institute for Human & Aesthetics at Coburg University of Applied Sciences and the University of Bamberg) with numerous findings from psychological aesthetics and other disciplines relevant to aesthetics. We integrate them into overarching models and use them to investigate the impact of design and creation over many centuries. And last but not least, we use them as tools to design environments ourselves that are optimally related to the perception, needs and values of people and socio-cultural contexts.

Professional practice in architecture and many design disciplines provides many tasks in which the competences of this Master’s focus topic prove very helpful: The whole field of health architecture; all places where social interaction, learning or working takes place; all places where people should feel comfortable or have defined aesthetic experiences; but also all places that have to accommodate very heterogeneous needs, such as urban space. In short: all places that relate to people.