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City Mood: the effect of intangible architecture mood on real estate evaluation

One of our Team Leaders, Luis Moreira Pinto, PhD, Professor of Architecture - CITAD Research Center, Lusiada University of Lisbon and UBI University from Covilhã (Portugal), sent this very interesting research he conducted with a colleague which we find strongly connected with "Cultural Studies in Business".

Real Estate, business, aesthetics, colours and shapes, people mood, feelings, emotions, sensations, culture, cultural heritage, customers, investors, builders, economic interests, Europe and the world. Enjoy reading and we hope - as always - a stronger impact of culture and value in the businesses of the future!


With this article we intend to show the importance of colors, forms and new technologies in the urban environment. The architecture is not more than an aggregate of volumes with different shapes, shapes that are arranged, directed and designed over and in space.

In this way, with the cross of the centuries and with the emergence of new architectural movements, new materials, new construction techniques and even based on different political or social events and cultural conflicts, noted a juxtaposition of architecture.

Current cities play a game where buildings from different centuries, together, evoking emotional and sensorial stimuli in each person, as well specific spaces and areas. Based on this design, conceived by the analysis of the concept of form, at the level of their visual properties (size, texture and color), its properties for the standard and the formation of elements (orientation, placement and lethargy visual), as well as its application in the Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque and Contemporary Architecture.

Cities were growing, some organized and others more randomly, giving rise to various types of atmospheres. These atmospheres will directly influence the mood of the people and them daily routines. To understand the environments that these atmospheres provide we did a survey about the meaning of geometric shapes and primary colours and how they influence the mood of citizens.

We visited primary schools in several European Union countries, and we asked the children about the meaning of shapes and colours. We asked the same questions to the students of the higher education and we conducted an online survey with questions regarding colours and shapes.

The shapes associated with colours will produce certain psychological effects in people.

Without realizing it, people may feel happiness or maybe more nostalgic when they are in a place with certain colours and shapes.

The city is not only made of business and tourism. The city is made of environments that result in atmospheres that are more welcoming and others more aggressive. These atmospheres will directly influence the way we do business and the way we see and feel the city. The population becomes more and more demanding both in terms of the architectonic layout characteristics and in terms of the decorative details of facades and streets.

The shapes and colours will directly influence the mood of the people who are walking on the city streets.

As well, the city becomes more and more technological. Internet it is increasingly used within the city to solve problems related to traffic and to urban mobility. Nowadays the internet connects all the constructed elements of the city organizing the citizens life.

Technologically evolved city awakens the curiosity of all its users that increasingly demanding in relation to the use of technology. The city becomes smart and self-sufficient.

This article studies the relationship between two complementary truths. The real value of a house or a building and the value that shapes and colours of that architecture have, in the mode in which they will influence the final value of the construction.

The city is organized on three fundamental pillars one linked to the aesthetical mood, linked to culture and another linked to the use of new technologies.

As a conclusion, we will show the results obtained in the surveys and workshops.


The city has become a place where a little bit of everything happens. People work and live in the city, but they also have fun or are sad. There is space for all kinds of emotions.

The city was the place where people live, make business and where they could find services or work.

When we walk on the street, we feel emotions, which we often do not realize. These emotions are directly linked to our individual spirit mood and culture.

Kant wrote: «The definition of taste that is the basis here is that it is the faculty for the judging of the beautiful».

There is a number of things that could provoke or influence the way in which we feel. From the traffic, to the movement of people, passing through all advertisements dispersed in a disorganized way, causing visual fatigue and consecutive tiredness.

The importance that the shapes of the different architectural styles had in the culture of taste, influenced the concepts of beauty, which each one has. After all, our individual culture was based on aesthetical rules, which later had an influence on the appearance of new styles of architecture.

There are many studies about the meaning of colours and shapes. We know that shapes and colours have a direct influence on people's moods and how they perceive reality.

Since the patrimonial value of a house or a building will be also different depending on the existing colours and patterns, they influence the state of mind of those who live there, work there or simply passed there.

All this is directly connected with the value that a real estate appraisal will have on a certain property.

The method of estimating the value of a house is based on several factors, but does not contain any intangible factor, since it is very difficult to measure it, which makes the final result of the real estate valuation far from reality, being only based on market values.

This article will show what percentage was discovered by several surveys, that should be applied in the equation. The surveys were based on a single case study, on a street in the city of Lisbon. Of course, this is just the beginning of a research, and it should be done in other cities as well. Anyway we hope that with this subject we could improve the spirit of the real estate value equation.


2.1 Gothic – “Reach the Sky”

The Gothic Style was developed in Europe, between the XII and XV centuries, following the Romanic Style, and was demarcated for four periods, which were the Primitive Gothic, the Classical Gothic, the Radiant Gothic and the Flaming Gothic.

The Gothic Architecture, represented by the colossal Cathedral (physical center of the city, which represents the political power), is characterized by the insertion of new technical innovations, new aesthetic components and an adulteration of the formal structure in buildings.

This type of architecture was also represented by an ostentation of the monumental scale on the human scale, transmitting the notion of smallness of the human being in relation to the architectural building, because the building was built for man, as well as, by an accentuation of the verticality of buildings on its horizontality, originating a directional antithesis, in which the human eye is betrayed by two derivations and opposite orientations.

Gothic Architecture is also identified by the "mystery of light", a mystery that conjures up and establishes the very spatial conception of cathedrals and churches, in function of a dominant and agglutinating faith.

The Cathedral of Milan (Italy), 1386 - 1813, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame (France), 1163-1235, and the Salisbury Cathedral (England), 1220-1258, are three examples of Gothic buildings.

Figure 1. Characteristics of Gothic Architecture. Source: Tiago Rodrigues. 2019.

2.2 Renaissance – “Reborn from the Classic Ideals”

The Renaissance manifested at the end of the XIV century, in Italy, and expanded until the end of the XVI century, having emerged in the transition from the Middle Ages to the Modern Ages.

This artistic and cultural movement has as its genesis the recognition of Classical Antiquity. In this way, the Renaissance came to direct the changes of the time in the elaboration of a more humanist and naturalistic ideal, not compromising in any way the renunciation of the standards spread by Christianity.

Through buildings designed on a human scale, Renaissance architecture aimed to modernize the art of building, thus replacing the profusion and monumental grandeur of Gothic buildings.

Renaissance architecture is also characterized by the application of the values and principles of Classical Antiquity, such as the concept of balance, perception, regularity, symmetry and proportion, which are associated with a decorative simplicity and a new formal perceptibility.

Examples of Renaissance buildings are the Church of Saint Maria of Miracles (Italy), 1481-1489, the Strozzi Palace (Italy), 1489-1539, and the Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano (Italy), 1445-1520.

Figure 2. Characteristics of Renaissance Architecture. Source: Tiago Rodrigues. 2019.

2.3 Baroque – “Curves, Light and Dramatic”

The Baroque appeared at the end of the XVI century, in Italy, and spread until the middle of the XVIII century, being defined by a strong dramatic, sensitive, excessive and significant character.

This artistic movement ruled according to aesthetic objectives, with the intention of provoking different feelings and sensations, giving rise to an awakening of the sensory senses, as well as technical objectives, objectives that aim to achieve, through an inexorable and sublime achievement, the standard of perfection.

The Baroque architecture presents a strong connection to classical architecture, because it is governed by similar formal norms, as well as highlights the important relationship between the building and the human scale.

The Church of St. Charles in the Four Fountains (Italy), 1638-1641, St. Peter's Square (Italy), 1656-1667, and the Church of Clérigos (Portugal), 1732-1749, are some examples of Baroque buildings.

Figure 3. Characteristics of Baroque Architecture. Source: Tiago Rodrigues. 2019.

2.4 Contemporaneity – “Maximum Dynamic and Tension”

Contemporaneity emerged at the end of the XX century, more precisely at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, and spread throughout the XXI century, a period marked by countless scientific, technological, artistic and cultural advances.

Contemporary architecture is characterized by not obeying any aesthetics or concept, because this type of architecture combines principles and aspects of various artistic movements, reinterpreting them in an original and exclusive way, highlighting the Deconstructivism.

Deconstructivism is determined by buildings that propagate the idea that they are in a constant transformation and progress, because their configurations and structures, of "fragile" features, seem an imminent collapse, "testing" in this way the law of gravity, or even that annulled the traditional inequalities between the bottom and the top and the inside and the outside. In this way, we can say that these buildings show a vigorous physical presence at the site, often transforming them into authentic "sculptures" that are passable, habitable and observable.

Examples of contemporary buildings are Vitra Fire Station (Germany), 1990-1993, the Aronoff Center for Design and Arts (United States of America), 1989-1996, and the Busan Cinema Center (South Korea), 2005-2012.

Figure 4. Characteristics of Contemporary Architecture. Source: Tiago Rodrigues. 2019.


It was carried out a survey in Rua da Madalena, Lisbon, to 118 people, using a virtual application from the Google Forms. This survey could have been carried out by email but, in reality, the application was opened on a tablet, and then for each person who participated the answers were given directly online and sent to google which automatically processed them.

The questionnaire was divided into two different typologies, the first part where the questions are more related to the street and the most important elements to preserve, and the other part where the questions are related to the geometric shapes and colors, their relationship between them and the emotional meaning for each.

With this survey we could verify that people who live in a certain street, and people who spend every day there, are able to feel and give importance to the space that surrounds them.

When questioned some people were surprised because they had, more or less, intensive sensations and did not know why.

After we had explained the purpose of the questionnaire, to them, people started to give more importance to the shapes of architecture and to compare them with the colors that the buildings had in that street.

Somehow, they discovered that they felt better and better disposed when they circulated in a certain area of the street where the buildings had shapes and colors that they preferred. We ask them how they could be happier or feel happier? and we suggest a few aspects to answer only with yes or no (Fig. 5).

The aesthetic point of view, can be based on the concepts and on the non-aesthetic concepts, the first ones are the concepts that require the capacity of taste in order to be used properly, we can find that definition at Frank Sibley’s article Aesthetic Concepts (1959) about the aesthetic concepts.

Figure 5. Survey layout from Google Forms. Results from question number 1. Source: Luis Pinto, 2018.

This survey has been carried out in the context of a doctoral thesis and is not yet finished, but in which some results can also be used in this article.

Here we highlight 3 main points, which are the colours of the buildings, with 55.9% of the preferences, the night lighting, with 72.9% of the options of choice and the new brands with a traditional trade, which obtained 51.7% of the choices.

The interviewees gave more attention to the colours of buildings, and to the lighting of streets and buildings.

These percentages were revealing and have consolidated our opinion about the importance of colours. Concerning to the color, we decided to circumscribe or limit our investigation only in relation to primary colours, comparing them in the same way with the three primary geometric forms.

The meaning of colours is often inspired by the psychology of colours. However, it may vary depending on the context, and the individual culture of the observer.

Johannes Itten and Wassily Kandinsky, artists deeply attached to the Bauhaus (1919 - 1933), adopted the model of primary and secondary colours. This pigment-colour classification model was very widespread and is still used in many institutions today as a way of organizing the level of colours in relation to their luminosity and mixture, which gives rise to the other colours from the three primary colours. According to this theory the primary colours are indivisible. In relation to the primary colours we can say that two primary colours mixed produce a secondary color. In other words, the mixture of the three primary colours, two to two, gives rise to the three secondary colours. Orange, by the addition of magenta with yellow; green, by the addition of yellow with blue and violet, by the addition of blue with magenta. The tertiary and quaternary colours also appear, besides the complementary ones, which we do not intend to develop here, since it is not the main theme of this investigation, but that we are interested in knowing for later in other deeper inquiries, to arrive at a more complex and complete algorithm, which at this moment we do not understand to be necessary to continue due to its complexity.

Colours have been studied by many researchers over time, and there are different theories, and in relation to forms there are also many theories, almost always based on phenomenology or standards related to aesthetics or taste theories.

There are many theories about the meaning of colours, for example Johannes Itten (1888-1967), who defined seven different color contrasts, Kandinsky (1969) stated that color has a direct influence on how we feel it: "Color is the touch, the eye, the hammer that vibrates the soul, the instrument of a thousand strings".

Bamz (1980), psychologist, made a study about the relationship between colours and the age of people, this study became important since it helps to associate a certain image or color to a certain profile of person. For example, red is connoted with an age between 1 and 10 years, where it is considered to be the age of effervescence and spontaneity, orange corresponds to 10 to 20 years of age, where we are in the age of magic, excitement or adventure. Yellow to the period between 20 and 30 years, Age of strength, power and arrogance. The green between 30 and 40 years, age of the decrease of the juvenile fire. Blue between 40 and 50, which is the age of thought and intelligence. The Lilac between the ages of 50 and 60, the age of the judgment of mysticism, of the law. Purple corresponds to people over 60 years of age, which is the age of knowledge and benevolence.

Figure 6. Survey carried out in Lisbon, Rua da Madalena in May 2018. Question about which color is the happiest? Source: Luis Pinto.

It is interesting to note that when questioned about the color that is most associated with happiness and good moods it was generally answered that yellow was the color that apparently induced this sensation, but later on, and after holding the workshops with children and adults, the answer was not so obvious. It has even been associated with some aggressiveness because it is too bright. However, we have all been educated that yellow is joyful.

In parallel to the surveys, some workshops were carried out in several countries, namely in Lithuania and Poland, with adults and children.

The aim of these workshops was to interrogate and discover the means of colors and forms, through a simple exercise based on the drawing of geometrical forms and the colors that each one opted to paint them with.

From the results of the practical exercises carried out on about 200 people and based on the survey, we concluded that Blue is Calm, stable, safe, non-aggressive, soft and in general is well tolerated. Yellow is irritative, aggressive, joyful, dominant, bright. Red is Calm, dominant, alert, dangerous.

With regard to the meaning of the shapes, the method was the same as the colors, we did a survey and used the workshops to collect information.

Figure 7. Survey conducted in Lisbon, Rua da Madalena in May 2018. Question about what is the happiest shape? Source: Luis Pinto.

The majority of the participants during the workshop and through the survey, answered that the most joyful geometric figure was the square, but here the association was connoted with stability and security, so the feeling of happiness.

For Pythagoras, the square represented perfection.

The vertical lines are generally associated with masculinity, strength and aggressiveness, while horizontal lines transmit unity, tranquility and calm.

The triangle, somehow accentuates the sense of stability due to its base, but it fits through its oblique lines, tendentially vertical, be associated with some aggressiveness.

With regard to the circumference, this form proved to be emotionally positive. Also associated with a union, i.e., as a unifying element and obviously with movement, and with some happiness.

That is, if on the one hand the forms with vertical and horizontal lines are considered more stable, then on the other hand the circumference will be the most cheerful and conferring great movement.

However, the happiest forms are related to the square and the circumference, excluding the triangle which, despite its apparent tranquility, turns out to be the most aggressive.

Overall, the workshop children selected the square as the most stable shape and the circle or circumference as the most fun. The triangle was rarely used in the drawings that were requested, of course they were mostly used as a cover for the houses.

In the older ones, the forms were almost always very abstract, exactly the same gender as the results on the geometric superposed forms. Perhaps the awareness and the need to be individualized, to be different, made them believe that the abstract forms are happier than traditional ones.

The square is calm, good mood, stable, safe, non-aggressive, strong, and represents the father. Triangle irritative, aggressive, stable, low confidence, preponderant. Circle is calm, cheerful, soft, rhythmic, end point, starting point, represents the mother, movement.

We have reached the following conclusions:

If the square is red, then it can enhance a sense of security, reference and comfort.

If the square is yellow, then you can enhance a sense of momentary stability and good mood.

If the square is blue, then you can enhance a feeling of calm, description, security, firmness.

If the triangle is incarnated, then it can enhance a feeling of preponderance, stable but visible, and arouse curiosity.

If the triangle is yellow, then it can enhance a feeling of irritability, aggressive but stable, low confidence, preponderant, momentary joy.

If the triangle is blue, then it can enhance a sense of momentary security, reference, instability, depending on the position.

If the circle is incarnated, then it can enhance a feeling of preponderance, reference, calm in the sense of vanishing point, positive impact.

If the circle is yellow, then you can potentiate a sensation of excessive joy, spontaneity and movement.

If the circle is blue, then you can enhance a sense of calm, calm movement, reference, softness.


The heritage in buildings presents patterns which have a value, that in many cases is naturally measurable, but in other cases, it becomes almost impossible to evaluate and relativize them in relation to mathematical and statistical formulas, which lead to a concrete value, of what is being evaluated.

The relations between intangible and tangible values are the main idea of this concept, promoting the importance of the dialogue between construction and its shapes, between the buildings and its Shapes with the objective to improve the memory of the place in a positive way and people good mood.

This architectural determinism is a social theory which postures that all human behavior can be derived interactions with one’s surroundings.

We are referring to silent numbers, which are implicitly included in the evaluation model, but which are not expressed in the mathematical formulas. These numbers can be translated into percentages and are related to the intangible aspects of the individual culture of the evaluator, or to the acculturation of a space, which, because of this phenomenon, becomes a unique place with a great importance for the area under evaluation.

The value, or the expected result, can thus be influenced positively or negatively by this value, which in general, as already mentioned, would be related to the individual who is carrying out the real estate valuation.

The need to discover a maximum of a relative percentage, for what we call the Mood Factor, has become primordial.

This Mood Factor will include the aesthetic perceptions that are based on the meaning of the local culture, the styles, but also both the positive and negative stimuli that the predominant forms and colors in the place may influence the result of the final valuation.

It is a percentage to be included in the evaluation formulas from a real estate appraisal.

This factor will be associated with the meaning of shapes and colors together with their ability to influence people's moods.

As an example of a calculation formula, for the normal real estate valuation of any building in its original condition, We have the following formula and calculation: V= (Vt+Cc+Cp+Ca+Ctx) x (1+M); where V- Market Value; Vt- Land Value; Cc- Construction Cost; Cp- Project Cost and Supervision; Ca- Administrative and Commercial Costs; Ctx- Tax and License Costs; M- Property Promotion Margin.

We carry out a survey where we question people if the memory of the place was important or not? and if the shape and colours of the buildings influenced or not in the decision to choose a certain building or a street to live?

The results were interesting, since the age differences were attributed to very different answers, but on the whole, they were divided into two groups. We interviewed 100 people. 50 people aged between 18 and 30, and 50 people aged between 65 and 80.

Rua Conde de Monsaraz, in Lisbon, was chosen because it is a street that retains its original, very consolidated characteristics, where you can find buildings built between the 1950s and 1970s in the 20th century. Therefore, any sudden intervention in this street would trigger reactions in the people who live there.

There are already few people living in this area, since its origin, we find the children of the first owners, who fall into the group of those over 50 years, and we find the grandchildren of the original owners, who fall into the group, between 18 and 30 years.

On the question: "Should a percentage of mood value be included in property valuations?", 49 out of 50 people aged over 50 answered in the affirmative and only 28 out of 50, under 30, answered in the affirmative.

Out of 100 respondents, 78% agreed to the inclusion of the Mood Factor in the formulas for calculating property assessments.

This percentage was the reason for carrying on our study, and we have therefore proposed a modification to the formula for the calculation of a real estate valuation.

Based on the above mentioned calculation equation, in order to know the market value of a given property, the "Culture Factor" will be functional as a depreciating or appreciating element, which must be projected only in the (Cc) Construction Cost, in the (Cp) Project Cost and in the (Ca) Administrative and Commercial Costs, once it will be directly reflected in these values, the application of the (Fm) "Mood Factor", together with the other depreciations to appreciations, functional, physical or even of location.

The formula will be: V= (Vt+(Cc+Cp +Ca+Ctx) x (Fm)) x (1+M) "Fm", will then be part of the set of valuation or depreciating elements, which will be applied together with the Mood Factor.

After analyzing the chosen statistical example, and based on the most common calculation formula, for an estimate of the property's market value, we conclude that the average percentage to be applied to the weighting factor (Fc) "Culture Factor", will be 13%.

This percentage was deduced based on one of the questions in the survey, where people were asked what percentage importance, they gave to the state of mind provoked by the colours and shapes of buildings, in choosing a place to live?


Over the decades, and centuries architecture has been considered more or less beautiful according to the styles and architectural movements of each era.

The notions of beauty were directly associated with the architectural styles that should obey to certain rules and to certain constructive designs.

The notion of beauty was associated with the architectural style and not with the individual preferences of each person. Aesthetic emotions were not free.

But cities have been developing over the years, and the individual culture of each population and each person has become different, welcoming other styles.

Today we are living in a period where the atmospheres that architecture or a urban space offer to people are more and more valued. Architecture now seeks to bring emotions, changing the city into a different space where various styles and artistic tendencies coexist, in terms of urban design as well as architectural design.

This new attitude mirrors itself as much in the construction level where the attention to some details ends up sounding almost abstract as it does at the level of the architectural design, where each architect designs in accordance with his individual style. Architecture now becomes a kind of brand.

The choice of places to live or the choice of places to open a business is increasingly being influenced by the constructive characteristics and the urban space that surrounds it.

The real estate value of a house ends up by being influenced not only by the characteristics of the house, but also by the emotions that the surrounding space transmits to people.

The emotions that the shapes of architecture and the colours of architecture connote were studied in a set of inquiries and workshops, where participants were questioned to reveal how they felt in relation to each of the main geometrical forms and in relation to each primary color.

The study that was carried out should only be interpreted as the beginning of an investigation on a larger scale, but we did not want to give up the results, which were written throughout the article.

The formulas of calculation for a real estate valuation do not include, until this moment, an appreciation or depreciation in function of an appreciation of the emotions that the place provides.

We propose a new formula that includes a percentage that represents those emotions.

In a parallel research that has not been transcribed into this article, we came to the conclusion that this value is close to 13% of the value of the property.

But what is important to conclude is that, after inquiring about the importance that people give regarding the aesthetic emotions of satisfaction, or sadness, of a certain place or a house, that importance is often considered when buying a house or in the way that it interacts with the mood of the person every day.

The shapes and colours have specific meanings that besides influencing the individual state of mind, will also imply in the real estate value of a certain place.

Article written by Luis Moreira Pinto, PhD, Professor of Architecture - CITAD Research Center, Lusiada University of Lisbon and UBI University from Covilhã (Portugal);

Lecturer on behalf of the "CSB pilot course" core activity of the Erasmus Plus K203 Project "Cultural Studies in Business" and Tiago Rodrigues, Master Architect - UBI University from Covilhã (Portugal).


Tiago Rodrigues, Master Architect, UBI University from Covilhã, Portugal,

Acknowledgements: this work is financed by national funds by FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., within the framework of Project UID / AUR / 04026/2019, and CITAD research center, from Luisada University. Article published in conference proceedings 2019- International Scientific Symposium“Economics, Business & Finance” (pp. 71 – 80).

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