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#67 - The Cathedral Effect

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Article written by
Juan Jesús Millo

Writing of the week

Did you know that the height of your workspace can influence the way you solve problems? Is working in a bunker with very low ceilings the same as working in a cathedral that aspires to touch the sky? This is the so-called cathedral effect.

It is the relationship that the height of a ceiling has with the problem-solving methodology, first raised by Edward T. Hall around 1960. He found that people tend to feel enclosed in chapels and liberated in cathedrals.

Low ceilings promote more detail-focused, concrete thinking, so for specific tasks it is the best solution. This principle can be used to create work sessions that are more focused on a clear objective, or in a shop to make customers focus on a specific item. Example: A supermarket, an operating room, a workroom, etc.

High ceilings, on the other hand, promote abstract, creative, out-of-the-box thinking, so for brainstorming sessions or divergences it would be great to work at this kind of height. Example: A casino, a shopping centre, a typical open-plan start-up studio, etc.

A curious fact is that in the study, if the ceiling height is not perceived, the work methodology is not biased.

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