Fractal Art and Architecture Reduce Physiological Stress

Nikos A. Salingaros, University of Texas at San Antonio, Department of Mathematics. San Antonio, TX 78249 U.S.A.

Human beings are apparently tuned to prefer an environment that has the self-similar properties of a fractal. Furthermore, as different types of fractals are characterized by what is known as their “fractal dimension” D , we respond best to “mid-range” fractals where D is between 1.3 and 1.5. In such fractal environments, our body automatically dampens its response to stress induced by intensive tasks and reaction to external forces. This implies that particular fractal environments are healing, or at least buffer us from life’s stresses. The remarkable fact is that this response is independent of what the fractal designs around us actually look like: they can be either representational or abstract. Altogether, we have here the beginnings of a new way of interpreting how the visual environment affects our health.

Key words: fractals, biophilic design, healing environment, stress, ornament, cognitive resonance.

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