Why Space Matters to Creativity

Cognition and Context: How Space Affects Learning and Creativity in the Undergraduate Setting was the theme of the LSC/Sloan Project. Wendy Newstetter, Director, Educational Research and Innovation, College of Engineering at Georgia Tech explored this in her paper "Why Space Matters to Creativity." 

When we walk into a space, we ask and determine what we can do in that space. What is acceptable? What is allowable? What can happen here and what cannot? What should happen here? We scan the environment, which in its design/structure/furniture helps us produce inferences that allow us to come to provisional answers to these questions.

Bringing this concept of positioning into discussions of creative spaces opens up new and novel avenues for understanding how space matters. We want to make the case that space is not inert; rather, it positions certain configurations of use and exploitation while vigorously resisting others. Spatial positioning imposes a storyline or narrative of constraints and potentialities of the space. In another essay included in this report, this positioning capacity of space is cast as “press.” Working with the positioning pressures of the space makes activities unproblematic, easy; working against them slows, impedes and inhibits activities, interactions and behaviors. To achieve the flow described by Czikszentmihalyi (1996) that accompanies creative activity, space needs to be a partner, not the adversary.