Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

New study shows a Maharishi Vastu designed office building increased the creativity of an architecture and engineering firm’s employees

October 22, 2019
2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard, Developed and Managed by The Tower Companies, Rockville, MD. Credit: Ron Blunt

This is the first-of-its-kind study on the effects of a Maharishi Vastu designed office building on an architecture and engineering firm’s employee creativity. The company, NIKA, is a tenant in The Tower Companies, 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard, MVA designed and LEED Platinum building in Rockville, Maryland, close to Washington, DC.

The study, published in Creativity Research Journal, was publicized by EurekAlert!, a service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, (AAAS). PhysOrg, ScienceCodex, and Bioengineer, were some of the websites that posted the news.

Lead author, Maharishi University of Management Professor Anil Maheshwari, and co-author Margaret Rose Werd, collected more data on other variables, which will be presented in future papers for publication. It was all part of Mrs. Werd’s PhD thesis she is still working on. We thought it impressive that such an important journal would publish the first article on this topic before she even completed her doctorate! Here are the EurekAlert! Summary and press release.

A study published in Creativity Research Journal found creativity increased in an architecture and engineering firm’s employees after moving into a building designed according to Maharishi Vastu® architecture. They scored higher on Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking compared to scores four months earlier in their previous location. Verbal originality rose by 84%; figural originality, 48%; elaboration, 61%; and resistance to closure, 40%. There was less than a 1% possibility the result was due to chance.

Can the design of a building improve the creative output of its occupants?

New study published in Creativity Research Journal shows Maharishi Vastu architecture increased workplace creativity.

This graph maps the average number of unique, original ideas produced per respondent on y-axis, for two types of tasks against the two building architecture (Conventional vs Maharishi Vastu) on the x-axis. The first pair of bars show that the average number of unique, original ideas produced for a product enhancement task increased from 1.9 to 3.5 or about 84% upon move to Maharishi Vastu. The second set of bars similarly show that the average number of unique, original ideas for a graphical figure completion task increased from 3.56 to 5.27, or about 48% upon move to Maharishi Vastu.

A ground-breaking study published in the September issue of the scholarly Creativity Research Journal found increased creativity in employees who worked in a building designed according to Maharishi Vastu® architecture. In this first study of its kind, employees of an architecture and engineering firm, based in a major metropolitan city in the Eastern United States, moved into a Maharishi Vastu office building and scored higher on the standardized Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) compared to their score four months earlier in their previous location. In particular, they generated 50-80% more original ideas. The study found that there was less than a 1% possibility that the result was due to chance.

“This research experimentally demonstrated that moving from a conventional architecture building into a Vastu building led to large measurable improvements in employee creativity, in particular in the originality of the ideas generated and their open-ended and detailed elaboration,” said Professor Anil Maheshwari of Maharishi University of Management, the first author of this study. “I think every organization, big and small, could benefit from this.”

The study was conducted by Maharishi University of Management with participation from The Tower Companies and NIKA in Rockville, Maryland, a city located just outside of Washington, D.C. 2000 Tower Oaks is a Maharishi Vastu building developed by The Tower Companies in 2008 and was recognized as the largest application of Vedic design in the world. NIKA moved into the building as a new office tenant in 2017.

Architecture in harmony with nature

Maharishi Vastu is a traditional system of architecture that originated in India, and is known there also as vastu or sthapatya veda. Features of Maharishi Vastu include alignment with the cardinal directions; a silent central area called a brahmasthan; specific placement and proportions of rooms; appropriate slope and shape of the land; an unobstructed view of sunrise; a location that’s distant enough from major sources of electromagnetic radiation; and use of natural materials and solar energy. The researchers hypothesized that this architecture would have a wide range of benefits because it is said to be more in harmony with nature.

“It may seem unfamiliar to a Western, scientific perspective, but the fact is that our physiology is intimately tied to the material and rhythms and forces of the earth and sun,” Dr. Maheshwari said. “Traditional systems of architecture, which have arisen in many places around the world over a long span of time, take these things into account. And now we’re intent on seeing whether the supposed benefits can be scientifically verified.” Earlier exploratory studies have documented that specific elements of the Maharishi Vastu system can influence such markers as mental health and heart health.

Greater originality and depth of creativity

The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) includes three assessments of verbal creativity and five of figural creativity. The researchers hypothesized that Maharishi Vastu architecture would show improvement on all eight assessments. Since before-and-after tests can result in higher scores on the second test simply due to being familiar with the testing instrument, TTCT has two different but comparable versions to control for familiarity and learning. One version is used in the initial condition and the other different version is used after the variable/s has been applied. 32 employees took one version of the test in the conventional architecture location, and 22 employees took the second version of the test in Vastu location. Of these, 21 employees were common and took the tests at both locations.

The results of the verbal tests found a statistically significant (p<0.05) increase (84%) in originality (i.e. unique unconventional ideas generated) but not in fluency and flexibility. On the figural tests, which requires subjects to expand on a series of incomplete figures, the results showed a large statistically significant (p<0.01) increase in tests of originality (48%), elaboration (61%), and resistance to closure (40%) (that is, a focus on pursuing new directions to complete a task). Tests of figural fluency and abstract title (ability to name an abstract original concept) did not show an effect.

A boon for the world

NIKA, the architecture and engineering firm that participated in the study, was delighted with the results. “Creativity, especially the sort of figurative creativity measured by TTCT, is an important trait for an architect. The company was pleased to have this objective support for the feeling of greater creativity experienced by their employees,” said Mrs. Margaret Rose Werd, the co-author of this study. She further added that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his vision for world vastu for all mankind are the source of the inspiration for this research.

“Not many real estate developers deliver that kind of return on rent!” added Jeffrey Abramson, partner at The Tower Companies. Jon Lipman, AIA, director of Maharishi Vastu services for North America, said, “It appears that Maharishi Vastu architecture can help to solve major challenges that face our cities. I recommend it to developers who aspire to create buildings that promote creativity and the flourishing of life and business.”

This research was the first longitudinal empirical study using standardized measures of creativity to look at the effect of buildings on employee performance in an organization. Data from more organizations would help to validate the results across multiple industries and locations. This research study can be accessed at: https://doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2019.1667943

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The Tower Companies also listed the press release and case study on their website, and shared the news via their social media platforms.

Enjoy TM News, THE TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION® MAGAZINE, featured the study in their ISSUE 40 • NOVEMBER 2, 2019: Can the Right Architecture Make Us More Creative? New research on Maharishi Vastu architecture shows greater creativity and originality.

Students build tiny house in M.U.M.’s Sustainable Living Program — Andy Hallman, Fairfield Ledger

May 16, 2013

Students build tiny house

Article and Photos by ANDY HALLMAN | May 16, 2013

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A class at Maharishi University of Management is building a “tiny house,” just 12-feet-by-20-feet, for one of its teaching assistants to live in.

The class is appropriately called “Tiny Houses” and is taught out of the Sustainable Living Department. The teaching assistant and M.U.M. student who will live in the house is Heather Caldwell, who will share the tiny home with her daughter, Ellie, and son, Henry.

Ellie said the house “looks awesome.”

“There’s not excess space, so it’s going to encourage us to go outside more,” she said.

Henry said he thought the house would be bigger than it seemed Wednesday.

“I’m thinking of having a hatch in my room so I can go out onto the roof,” he said. “I think I’ll get used to the size of it.”

Caldwell and her family plan to move into the house in June.

The eight-member class is a little more than two weeks old. Caldwell designed a floor plan for the home. The entire class built walls and a floor according to Caldwell’s specifications. Wednesday afternoon, the class wanted to see the fruits of its labor so it assembled the floor and walls outside the library on the M.U.M. campus.

No heavy machinery was used to install the walls. About 12 people, including the class members and a few stray volunteers, hoisted the walls into place by hand.

Wednesday’s construction project was simply a demonstration to show Caldwell and the class what the tiny house would look like once it’s done. The class will disassemble the house and move it to its more permanent location near Abundance EcoVillage.

Mark Stimson, head of the building track in the M.U.M. Sustainable Living Program, is the professor for the class. He said his class’s project is part of a growing movement of people building small homes. One of the reasons people are turning to such tiny houses is financial.

“You can build your own home for just a few thousand dollars,” he said. “You can live without a mortgage. It’s a lifestyle and priority choice. If your priority is not to be a slave to your house but to live in a nice, tight, comfortable little house, and spend your money on other things, then you might consider building a tiny house.”

Stimson said Caldwell spent about $4,000 on building materials for the home.

Another major reason people choose to build small dwellings is to conserve energy. The small homes are easy to heat and cool. Stimson said many rely on renewable sources of energy such as solar power to heat them in the winter.

“A lot of them have no utility bills,” he said. “They produce all of their own energy.”

Caldwell’s home will feature large glass windows on the south side to take advantage of the sun’s rays in the winter.

Stimson said most of his students had no experience in construction prior to his class.

“We’re only two weeks into the class and they are already working at a clean, professional level,” he said. “It’s gratifying to me to see the change from three Mondays ago when we started the course till today. They’ve really come a long way. I tell my students that when they’re done with this course, they should be able to go anywhere in the country and be under a roof in two weeks.”

The class spends several hours per day in hands-on construction projects and also studies architecture in a traditional classroom setting. All the students in the class create a floor plan for a home they would like to build.

In order for the class to build a tiny house, someone has to pay for the materials. Stimson said that does not present a problem because people in Fairfield are lining up for tiny homes, especially now that students are donating their labor to build them.

Fairfield’s city ordinances do not allow a house of such small size to be built within the city limits, which is part of the reason Caldwell will build hers outside the city limits near Eco Village. Another reason she is building it there is because she wants to start a community of tiny homes.

Caldwell said she got the idea to move into a tiny house in December. She liked the idea of building an inexpensive home, and she was looking for a senior project to complete in order to graduate.

“In the Sustainable Living Program, we’re all about reduce, reuse and recycle,” she said. “We’re all very close here at the university. It’s cool to have classmates, who are people I care about, help build your house.”

Stimson said the course teaches students how to use space efficiently and creatively, which is especially necessary in a tiny house where there is so little of it.

“One thing in the house serves two or more functions,” he said. “[Caldwell’s] reading nook is going to turn into a guest bed. Some people put their dish drainers right above the sink, which is also where they store their dishes, so you don’t have to dry your dishes and put them in a cupboard. You just let them drain down into the sink.”

Caldwell said solar panels will supply electricity to her home. Her septic system will employ a composting toilet. Heat will be supplied by the solar panels and a wood stove. The house will be 12 feet high on one side and 11 feet high on the other. Rain will be collected from the roof for use in the house.

The course on tiny houses premiered earlier this year. Stimson said the class is so popular he has agreed to teach it next year and most likely will for many years.

Published with permission from The Fairfield Ledger, this article covered almost the entire front page, including three large photos down the right side, and another one on the back inside page with the rest of the article.

More news coverage: Tiny House’ offers big benefits to save energy and money — KTVO’s Kate Allt reports from MUM.

House Beautiful: living in a remarkable Maharishi Vastu retirement home on Saltspring Island, BC

April 25, 2013

House Beautiful: The gift of constraint
Grania Litwin / Times Colonist
April 18, 2013

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It’s the home of Vincent and Maggie Argiro, natives of the States who had heard about the friendly island and decided to build a remarkable retirement home there.

Based on an ancient form of Indian architecture — called Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, or Vastu — the home is designed to increase occupants’ health and happiness.

It certainly feels calming and harmonious the moment you enter through the lotus flower gate, cross a lavender-edged terrace and step into the two-storey glass foyer.

The L-shaped building is reflected in an L-shaped pool, and the entire house is oriented to the cardinal directions. Light floods into every room from east and west, through interior and exterior windows, as well as skylights — perhaps one reason the house is supposed to boost clarity and creative thinking.

“A vastu house is said to be a fortune-creating house too,” said Vincent, who seems pretty creative already.

He is a world leader in three-dimensional, advanced visualization software design. His Vital Images Inc. — now a division of Toshiba Medical — produces medical-imaging software, a diagnostic tool used in hospitals worldwide by radiologists, cardiologists, oncologists and other specialists needing to explore inside the body.

In the couple’s home, everything from orientation and proportion to property slope and relationship to nearby bodies of water is governed by vastu design. By great good fortune, soon after arriving on the island, they found an ideal 3.8-hectare site with panoramic views stretching from Mount Baker to Black Tusk in the Garibaldi Range 132 kilometres away.

Designer Everest Lapp said it was a very demanding project. “Siting the building was difficult, as it had to be within a certain envelope with very particular dimensions. Everything was very detailed and exacting.

“In some cases, we had to move a wall a quarter of an inch. Even the rockwork was redone at one point. I’d never done a fireplace like this before, with a high window in the back. I didn’t even know it was possible.”

There were compensations, though.

“The Argiros* are amazing people with so much depth, and although their expectations were very high and it was super-challenging, creating this house has enriched my career,” Lapp said.

“I sometimes wondered if it would come together, but there is no doubt in my mind that Vincent can do anything he wants. He is very, very bright.”

The 3,800-square-foot home has a feeling unlike anything she has experienced, Lapp said. “There is an energy — something ethereal about it.”

Vincent knew a designer called Everest would be up for the challenge.

“She is a former national mountain-biker and snowboarder and I heard there was no slope she couldn’t go down,” he joked, adding he likes challenges, too.

“I read a book years ago with a quote I’ve always remembered: ‘Constraints are gifts to creative people.’ It’s been my maxim and guiding principle all my life,” said the innovator, who is still an active consultant and mentor to other entrepreneurs — and an electric-vehicle buff who has a Tesla Roadster and a Model S, both of which were the first of their kind in B.C.

“In this architecture, we had to follow the rules exactly, the tolerances were very small, up to 1/16th of an inch,” he explained. “But we could be very creative within them.”

Maggie said their island builder, originally from Switzerland, was very precise, too, and really got on board.

“This house was absolutely the toughest I’ve ever built, and I was up there more than two years,” said Robert Huser.

“A lot of the stuff you just don’t see … all the floor joists, for instance, had to be ripped down. A 2×10 is actually 2×9.5, and we had to make them 2×8-and-three-eighths. But the Argiros are great people and it was cost-plus [pricing].”

The owners used as many local craftspeople and materials as possible, said Maggie, who designed the glass catwalk with Lapp. It’s made of kiln-cast, textured glass fabricated in the Vancouver Glass Studio of Joe Berman on Granville Island. A totem beside the stairs was commissioned from First Nations carver Doug LaFortune, depicting eagles and sea otters.

“There is a great spirit in this house,” said Maggie, noting that during construction, there were many coincidences. Time and again, just when they needed something, it would appear: A container of wood, originally headed for Japan, suddenly became available; a barn full of rare wood was discovered at the 11th hour.

The house has hydronic in-floor heat, a forced-air system used mainly for ventilation, a high-efficiency heat pump for hot water and a backup propane generator.

“We need the generator when the power goes out; it can be out for three or four days up here,” said Vincent, and 80 per cent of the lights are LED, which use 80 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs.

The eco-friendly home is filled with small details, such as a small deck with outdoor shower off the master bath, and a ladder to a rooftop perch. “It’s my cubbyhole,” Vincent said. “You know the old song Up On The Roof? Well I have that bug. I love sitting up there.”

Hanging on the stairway wall is a massive marble slab from an area of southern France famous for Paleolithic cave paintings. “There are amazing iron deposits near Lascaux and when I saw this piece, I immediately thought: That is nature’s painting and it should not be cut up for countertops.

“It weights 800 pounds and hanging it was the most dangerous, demanding part of this whole building.”

Vincent devised stainless-steel rails for it to sit in and a framework of aircraft aluminum bolted onto a reinforced wall.

Maggie’s favourite haunt is the kitchen she designed.

“For years I worked in a postage-stamp-sized kitchen,” said the former home economist, who worked for Continental Mills, testing and developing recipes. “So this is wonderful.

“My main thing is workflow and efficiency. You come in with groceries, put them in the refrigerator, wash and prep them here, chop here, cook here, choose the dishes here, serve here. It works beautifully,” she said, moving clockwise around the area. Her island includes a baking centre with tin-lined drawers.

The commercial fan above her Wolf range was tricky to install at the large window, but she wanted to enjoy the view and check on her outdoor Italian pizza oven.

Vincent is most proud of the “smart home” technology he programmed himself.

“The house has a whole set of rhythms that adjust the lights and thermostats every day, every season. This nervous system shuts down all non-essential power at night, or when we’re on holiday.

“Almost all the wires go dead. The whole house is de-energized, so radiation of all kinds drops dramatically when we sleep, and the house idles at less than 500 watts.”

Vincent explained they took their time finding a place to retire in their mid-50s and toyed with the idea of building a home in Minneapolis, “but it never felt right. Then we heard about Saltspring, this magical community of talented and special people.”

They love the island and their peaceful new house.

“It’s as if there are no walls, no ceilings,” said Maggie. “You feel that nothing stands between you and nature.”

This demanding Saltspring Island home brings out the best in creative design and artisans. The Argiro home is the 5th video, Saltspring Lotus, in a series called, House Beautiful, published by Debra Brash, April 20, 2013 for timescolonist.com.

© Copyright 2013

*At the time of this article Vincent Argiro was a trustee of Maharishi University of Management. Vincent and Maggie Argiro were major donors of M.U.M.’s Argiro Student Center.


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