Why round rooms are the next thing in clever workplace design – Dr Oliver Baumann

What’s the connection between space and memory? Dr. Oliver Baumann has spent some time studying the intricate relationship between space and psychology, including memory.

Doing so led him to an interest in the effect of space on creativity, wellbeing and productivity. 

In research just published, a clear link has been established between the shape of a workspace and the creativity that people can experience there. Round rooms make people more creative. 

Utilising innovative methods like virtual reality (VR), he and his colleague systematically investigated how the shape of spaces influences subjective well-being, creative output, and physiological arousal. His findings reveal that rounded environments have the potential to foster collaboration and stimulate innovative thinking.

Practical applications of Dr. Baumann’s insights extend to modern office settings, where round rooms serve as dedicated hubs for problem-solving and creative endeavours. 

If you’re a leader in an organisation striving to optimise your workspace, this conversation with Dr. Oliver Baumann promises to be both enlightening and transformative.

– Nina

“Previous research, not necessarily on rooms, but just on shapes in general … already established quite firmly that humans have a preference for round shapes. Other arguments go that round spaces are more suited for collaboration in terms of how people can fill that space.” Dr. Oliver Baumann

Key moments

00:00:48 – Dr. Baumann discusses his transition from studying brain functions to investigating the effects of the built and natural environment on mood, behavior, and cognition.

00:01:53 – The evolutionary roots of spatial memory and its importance for survival

00:03:53 – Interior design goes beyond decoration, aiming to enhance well-being, minimise stress, and optimise productivity

00:05:55 – Dr. Baumann introduces his research on the impact of round rooms on creativity and the significant improvements observed in subjective well-being, creative output, and physiological arousal.

00:07:27 – Potential reasons for the positive effects of round rooms

00:10:01 – Practical applications of round room insights in modern offices, enhancing both individual and collaborative work processes.

00:14:29 – Examples of organisations implementing round rooms for creative thinking

00:15:41 – Potential limitations of round rooms, emphasising the importance of autonomy and functionality in space design

00:17:03 – The universal preference for round shapes

00:18:02 – Modern construction techniques and data-driven approaches can make round rooms more feasible and efficient.

00:19:48 – The importance of designing spaces that prioritize human comfort and well-being

00:22:39 – The significance of nature and organic shapes in creating human-centered spaces

00:23:00 – Some of Dr. Baumann’s favourite food.

Resources & contact details

Published article [open access] – “The impact of room shape on affective states, heartrate, and creative output”, K. Strachan-Regan and O. Baumann, 17 March 2024

Dr Oliver Baumann at Bond University

Workplace Makers – the podcast about people building workplaces that attract a crowd

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