In architecture, we all love incredible design – spaces that are unique, ownable and really speak to the culture of the company that occupies them. But there can be huge value in “neutral space” in any building. And it’s time to start rethinking how it’s used.
Neutral space is defined as space that has “of no distinctive characteristics, or type.” Neutral space can also mean “open space with no dedicated function or role.” To some, those definitions translate to “boring space” but that really isn’t the case.
The buildings we occupy impact us emotionally and psychologically. They can have a profound effect on our state of being day in and day out.
Neutral Space Allows for User Definition
Gone are the days when every room must have a defined purpose. We’re working on more projects where open spaces have multiple functions—or no defined function at all. They’re spaces for gathering, meeting, relaxing—all defined by the user, time, and situation.
These spaces help heighten creativity and engage the senses in a different way than more defined spaces. Users are able to use the space as they see fit—allowing more versatility in function.
Color in Neutral Spaces
A neutral space doesn’t necessarily imply a neutral color palette. Although more neutral colors have been found to evoke a sense of safety and calm; a mix of brighter and more vibrant colors are beneficial to learning environments and other areas on campus designed to help students, staff, or faculty unwind and relax.
Neutral Space Invigorates the Senses
Spaces with a specific defined purpose are necessary of course, but they also provide occupants with a preconceived notion of how to act in that space. Users come into a conference room looking for a structured meeting. They enter a cafeteria expecting a meal. Their mindset is predefined before entering the room.
By contrast, neutral spaces allow the user to come in with an open mind—and often they notice more about their surroundings as a result. The texture on the walls. The flow of the room. How light and air flow through the space.
Rethinking Neutral Space in Your Next Project
One of our favorite steps of the planning process is understanding our clients’ needs for their new space. As you look at your new project, talk with your architect and interior designer about neutral spaces designed for flexibility, openness and adaptation. And how embracing neutral space can help you re-imagine the possibilities of your new space.