Cities, Psychology, and Design


Underneath the Henry Hudson Bridge
Underneath the Henry Hudson Bridge

As frequent readers of this blog know, context and physical environment impact psychology, behavior, and well-being.

There’s  been a few pieces worth reading that highlight the impact of the built environment to our mental state. Check them out:

Streets with No Game by Colin Ellard on  Aeon

Now the reason for the dismal recordings of happiness and arousal in participants standing in front of blank façades should be clearer. At a psychological level, these constructions fail us because we are biologically disposed to favour locations defined by complexity, interest, and the passing of messages of one kind or another.

Architecture’s brief love affair with psychology is overdue a revival by Carlos Galan-Diaz & Dörte Martens on The Conversation

The condition of a site is important to how people respond to it. One of the recurrent findings is that people tend to prefer environments that are clean, have a degree of ornamentation, are uncluttered, have an open view, good illumination and so forth. Good designs do not demand too much attention, and are easy to move through and understand – imagine the different experiences between a busy underground station at rush hour and a park in the full summer sun, for instance. Such environments tend to promote well being in a general overarching way.

Another critical success factor is participation, where the end users are involved in the design process. . . . 

And if we are going to build more compressed urban spaces to meet housing shortages in big cities like London, we need to think more in terms of spaces that restore elements of nature – these use up less of your attention and therefore help you to recharge rather than use more energy. This is why things like parks, landscape, water and a sense of wilderness are all important in urban spaces. In a similar vein, urban land consumption matters too. Better to build smaller apartments with large public community green spaces than use the same acreage to build large urban lofts with private green spaces, for instance. 

How to design a street that’s mentally rejuvenating by Christian Jarrett on BPS Research Digest

Greater architectural variation in the street scene and lower building height both contributed to the perception that the environment was restorative – allowing the participants to “rest and recover their abilities to focus”. Greater architectural variety also tended to go hand in hand with a greater sense of fascination and with “being away” (although not with preference), factors which explained the link with perceived restorative power. In contrast, higher buildings were associated with a diminished sense of “being away” and were judged less restorative.

For other posts on this topic:

https://schoolecosystem.wordpress.com/category/physical-environment/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s