Time worn principles in architecture suggest that we might like buildings that mirror the proportions and harmonies of the human form. But what about faces? New research shows how computer analysis of building facades might be used to show how face-like images on the surfaces of buildings affect our emotions.
We are being bombarded by accounts of new technology that can read our feelings by measuring facial expressions, voice qualities, and more. Not only do accounts of such tools seem to oversimplify one of the most complex aspects of human behavior, but to the extent that we buy into them, they run the risk of allowing us to cheapen our idea of what it means to be human.
Tree-houses have been built throughout history but they now seem to be enjoying a resurgence. We can live in trees, stay in tree-hotels, or simply spend an hour or two in a forested canopy. The well-known psychological benefits of nature exposure suggest that spending time in a tree-house could make you feel happier and less stressed a think more clearly. Go climb a tree.
As neuroscientists learn more about how different kinds of environmental designs affect us, general principles relating brain and place will emerge. How can architects take advantage of such advances without losing the power and freedom to create?
Our bodies react with stressful arousal to the typical experiences of an urban dweller, such as crossing a busy street. Surprisingly, we may be completely unaware of these stresses, making it difficult for us to manage them. Practising mindful awareness of the effects of stress on your body, perhaps using technological aids, may help, lowering the risk of illness.
When going on vacation, we may be so afraid of missing something that we load up on guide-books, check-lists of must-see tourist attractions and hot-spots. But there are other approaches which involve opening up your mind to new experiences and increasing the likelihood of unexpected happy discoveries. Try these playful tips for a different kind of holiday experience.
The design of built spaces exerts strong effects on our behavior, including our ability to make connections with strangers. But now, with the advent of mass communication via the Internet, the rules of engagement have changed.
New types of wearable computing can provide us with all kinds of rich information about a place that we've never visited before. Such tools provide a valuable means of enriching our experience of place but they may make it more difficult for us to enjoy the novel sensory experiences associated with new places.
The debate about telecommuting often centers on questions about whether a worker can function well without visiting a traditional office environment. It's generally assumed that when a worker can avoid the office they are better off doing so. But is this always the case? It's possible that the unshackling of work from a workplace takes away the freedom to not work.
Unlike most of the places we visit, museums and galleries invite us in to explore for education, enlightenment and simple pleasure. New and sophisticated methods for measuring behavior have allowed psychologists to place museum exploration under the microscope so that we can measure the unfolding thoughts and feelings of museum-goers.
New office designs are shifting away from traditional assembly-line style layouts to spaces designed to encourage interaction and creativity. There's no doubt that our workspaces are overdue for a re-think, but good workspace design is a subtle art requiring both an understanding of your organization's workflow and the basics of human behavior.
Much research in environmental psychology has shown that exposure to parks and greenery can make us happy and healthy. Yet taking advantage of this finding in dense cities where space is at a premium can be difficult. Can we take advantage of what we've learned about nature exposure to build settings that restore?
Architectural spaces can oppress and disturb by manipulating the relationship between the observer and the observed. But now mobile technology and the Internet have changed our understanding of what it means to be seen or to be hidden, and this has enormous implications for design, architecture, and environmental psychology.
Finding your way through the city of London can pose major challenges to the brain's wayfinding systems. But smart environmental design based on sound psychology and neuroscience can help keep you oriented and encourage walking and exploration.