Research Design Connections

Changing Rooms and Exercising (02-07-18)

When people have access to showers and changing rooms, are they more likely to ride a bicycle or walk to work?  A research team headed by Biswas analyzed data collected from over 53,000 people who answered questions on the 2007 – 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey, and determined that “Compared with younger ages, workers 50 to 75 years old were more likely to cycle to work if WS/CR [showers and changing rooms] were available.”  So, older individuals were more likely to ride their bicycles to work when WS/CR were available but people 49 years old or younger were not more likely to ride a

More on Environmental Noise (02-06-18)

New research indicates how important it is to block the flow of environmental sound (from aircraft, trucks, trains, etc.) into buildings and to reduce outside noise levels via traffic routing/management, building orientation, etc.  Munzel and his team report that “Noise has been found associated with annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, and impaired cognitive performance. . . . studies have found that environmental noise is associated with an increased incidence of arterial hypertension, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke. . . .

Light and Thinking (02-05-18)

Research with rats confirms that being in dim light may not be good for our cognitive performance (“Does Dim Light Make Us Dumber,” 2018).  Previous research has linked brighter light with improved “cognitive performance in school children, healthy adults, and patients in early stages of dementia” (Soler, Robison, Nunez, and Yan, in press).  The Michigan State press release states that “Spending too much time in dimly lit rooms and offices may actually change the brain's structure and hurt one's ability to remember and learn.” It reports that the Soler lead team  “studied the brains of . .

Cost-Benefit Analyses (02-02-18)

Kim, Zafari Bellanger, and Muennig probed the costs and benefits of creating a park.  Anyone assessing the potential value of any sort of design solution will find it useful to take a look at their work (the Kim team’s methods for calculating outcome values are reported in detail at  Kim and colleagues wanted to “examine health benefits and cost-effectiveness of implementing a freeway deck park to increase urban green space. . . .

Less Annoying Experiences (02-01-18)

Pohl, Gabriel, and Hubner set out to learn how to improve wind farm residents’ responses to wind turbine noise.  Their findings are useful whenever some people may be less than happy with designed conditions.  The research team learned via interviews with people living in a wind farm in Germany that “Noise annoyance was minimally correlated with distance to the closest WT [wind turbine] and sound pressure level, but moderately correlated with fair planning. . . .


Research Conversations

Dome view

Ceilings significantly affect the psychological experience of being in a place, although space users do not often focus on these horizontal planes.  This article reviews neuroscience research on ceilings and how these surfaces can be used to achieve design objectives.

Reflected Façades

Cognitive science research in urban and other settings regularly shows that people are people no matter where they are and that they respond in consistent ways to the worlds around themselves. This article highlights findings from urban design studies that illustrate fundamental design principles that improve people’s lives, anyplace.


Designed and natural spaces can inspire awe in humans.  How do they produce this effect and why does it matter?  Applying insights gained from social science research to answer these questions enhances design practice.

How we sense and make sense of the environment around us—and how our brains work with information, in general—can vary based on where we are on Earth.  We discuss Equator-relative, design-related variations in thoughts and behaviors in this article.

PlaceCoach News Briefs


Findings that prevent crowding


Build in exploration

Quantifying the effects of applying basic principles

What's on the walls matters

The right answer depends on location

Research to inform design that supports rehabilitation

Practical. Relevant. Free.

Varying user experiences can be appropriate

Book Reviews


Makes unconscious forces conscious considerations

A crucial guide to an important tool

Design at Work


London’s Design Museum is a marvelous place to spend time and to learn about design's ability to influence our lives.