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Zhou and colleagues studied work groups’ adjacency preferences.  They investigated “a large company’s spatial adjacency planning with an in-depth analysis of its formal organizational structure and collaboration network. A sample of 183 managers was surveyed regarding groups with whom they want to be spatially adjacent and groups with whom they mostly interact. . . . .  The results suggest that department affiliation and collaboration relations are significantly correlated to adjacency preferences. The authors did not find evidence supporting the notion that a workgroup’s prestige affects the preference. Among the three factors, collaboration relation best predicts the preference, which echoes Pena et al.’s (1977) argument that space planners should look into how groups function, rather than merely following the organizational chart.”

Yaoyi Zhou, Chiara Tagliaro, and Ying Hua. 2021.   “Networked ‘Bubbles’:  Study Workgroups’ Spatial Adjacency Preference Using Social Network Analysis Methods.”  Journal of Corporate Real Estate, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 87-105,

Hao, Barnes, and Jing investigated the effects of college level active learning on educational outcomes; classroom layouts and furnishings can provide more or less support for active learning.  The researchers determined that “Active learning environments were found to have little influence, whereas active learning and teaching were found to have a significantly-positive influence on student achievements. . . . Active learning classrooms, characterised by open learning spaces, movable tables and seats, and learning technologies, are designed to better support effective learning. . . . In contrast to prior studies, this research revealed that active learning and teaching has a significantly beneficial influence on computer science students’ academic achievements, but active learning environments do not. The findings of this study . . . invite more debate on the important question of whether investment in active learning classrooms is worthwhile.”

Qiang Hao, Bradley Barnes, and Mengguo Jing. 2021. “Quantifying the Effects of Active Learning Environments:  Separating Physical Learning Classrooms from Pedagogical Approaches.”  Learning Environments Research, vol. 24, pp. 109-122,

Klotz, Adams, and Converse studied human problem solving; their findings are relevant wherever and whenever humans act. A press release related to the trio’s work (recently published in Nature) reports that “When considering two broad possibilities for why people systematically default to addition — either they generate ideas for both possibilities and disproportionately discard subtractive solutions or they overlook subtractive ideas altogether — the researchers focused on the latter. ‘Additive ideas come to mind quickly and easily, but subtractive ideas require more cognitive effort,’ Converse said. . . . The researchers think there may be a self-reinforcing effect. ‘The more often people rely on additive strategies, the more cognitively accessible they become,’ Adams said. ‘Over time, the habit of looking for additive ideas may get stronger and stronger, and in the long run, we end up missing out on many opportunities to improve the world by subtraction.’ . . . ‘I think our research has tremendous implications across contexts, but especially in engineering to improve how we design technology to benefit humanity,’ Klotz said.”

Jennifer McManamay.2021.  “Why Our Brains Miss Opportunities to Improve Through Subtraction.”  Press release, University of Virginia,

Recently released research confirms which music tempos are relaxing.  A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society indicates that “listening to music can help older adults sleep better. . .  People who were treated with music listened to either calming or rhythmic music for 30 minutes to one hour, over a period ranging from two days to three months.  (Calming music has slow tempo of 60 to 80 beats per minute and a smooth melody, while rhythmic music is faster and louder.) . . . Listening to calming music at bedtime improved sleep quality in older adults, and calming music was much better at improving sleep quality than rhythmic music.”

“Does Listening to Calming Music At Bedtime Actually Help You Sleep?”  2021. Health in Aging,

Chinazzo analyzed data collected from online job reviews for large organizations posted on Glassdoor to learn more about indoor environmental quality and its repercussions.   Analyses revealed that “(1) IEQ complaints mostly arise in workplaces that are not office buildings, especially regarding poor thermal and indoor air quality conditions in warehouses, stores, kitchens, and trucks; (2) reviews containing IEQ complaints are more negative than reviews without IEQ complaints. The first result highlights the need for IEQ investigations beyond office buildings. The second result strengthens the potential detrimental effect that uncomfortable IEQ conditions can have on job satisfaction.”

Giorgia Chinazzo.  “Investigating the Indoor Environmental Quality of Different Workplaces Through Web-Scraping and Text-Mining of Glassdoor Reviews.”  Building Research and Information, in press,

Rodriquez and teammates determined via a virtual-reality-based study that we prefer apparent daylighting levels to vary from time to time in viewed urban environments; their findings may be useful to people developing virtual spaces, for example. The group shares that their work “analyze[d] subjective reponses to lightness changes in outdoor views with respect to three view constructs (i.e., preference, recovery, and imageability). . . . This study evidenced that lightness changes in views prompted positive responses from individual observers with respect to preference, restoration, and imageability. These findings might inform the adjustment of integrated lighting and automated shading devices in windowed settings. . . .  The evidence presented in this study suggests that luminous changes in views are important features to be considered in future design guidelines and projects involving the assessment of outdoor views.”  

Francisca Rodriquez, Veronica Garcia-Hansen, Alicia Allan, and Gillian Isoardi. 2021.  “Subjective Responses Toward Daylight Changes in Window Views: Assessing Dynamic Environmental Attributes in an Immersive Experiment.”  Building and Environment, vol. 195, 107720,

Ozboluk’s research findings are useful to anyone creating luxury experiences via design, at hotels, restaurants, or somewhere else.  The investigator reports that “this paper investigates the nature of luxury within access-based consumption in the context of consumers’ accommodation experiences. A qualitative approach is adopted to uncover the circumstances that constitute luxury for consumers who use Airbnb Plus. The study found that luxury manifests itself in search of uniqueness and freedom. . . .  consumers are seeking more immaterial forms of luxury in their vacations.”

Tugba Ozboluk.  2021.  “The Pursuit of Uniqueness and Craving for Freedom:  The Meaning of Luxury in the Age of Access.”  Leisure Studies, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 227-242,

Bazley, Cronqvist, and Mormann’s recent research provides additional evidence that the color red should be used cautiously.  The investigators report in an article published in Management Science“thatusing the color red to represent financial data influences individuals’ risk preferences, expectations of future stock returns and trading decisions. The effects are not present in people who are colorblind, and they’re muted in China, where red represents prosperity. Other colors do not generate the same outcomes. . . . ‘In Western cultures, conditioning of red color and experiences start in early schooling as students receive feedback regarding academic errors in red,’ Bazley said. Red is associated with alarms and stop signs that convey danger and command enhanced attention. . . . red color appears to prolong pessimistic expectations in relation to negative stock returns, while viewing the same information in black or blue leads to reversal beliefs.  He [Bazley] said, ‘This suggests the use of color may have broad implications for stock market liquidity during times of crisis and the momentum anomaly.’”

“The Color Red Influences Investor Behavior, Financial Research Reveals.”  2021.  Press release, The University of Kansas,

Which light is best? Houser and colleagues report that “light is still for vision, and lighting for visibility, visual comfort and visual amenity is as important as ever. Complementing the old is new awareness and responsibility for how light and lighting influence non-visual responses in humans. Circadian, neuroendocrine and neurobehavioural responses are important for human health and should be considered on-par with visual responses. This awareness leads toward lighting design solutions with increased contrast between day and night. The parties responsible for addressing non-visual responses to light and lighting are evolving. Architects, lighting professionals, lighting equipment manufacturers, medical professionals, building owners and individuals all have a stake.”

K. Houser, P. Boyce, and J. Zeitzer.  “Human-Centric Lighting:  Myth, Magic or Metaphor?” Lighting Research and Technology, in press,

Hong and teammates studied adding nature sounds to outdoor spaces.  Study participants wore a mixed-reality head-mounted display and saw a hologram of either a sparrow or a fountain or a loudspeaker while hearing birdsong or a stream.  The researchers determined via data collected outdoors, near an expressway, that “both natural sounds significantly reduced the PLN [perceived loudness of the traffic noise] and enhanced the OSQ [overall sound quality]. . . .  Analysis on the preferred signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), i.e. ratio of natural sound to traffic levels, indicated a strong negative correlation between the preferred SNRs and ambient traffic noise levels. Overall, the preferred SNR of the birdsong was significantly higher than that of the water sound. . . .  It was also found that there was no statistically significant difference in the reduction effect of PLN between the birdsong and water sounds.” Quantifying some of the effects seen: “When the traffic noise levels were below 70 dB, higher natural sound levels than the background noise level were considered as desirable . . . at higher traffic noise levels over 70 dB, the participants tended to prefer lower natural sound levels than the ambient traffic noise levels.” Responses to the sounds were not significantly different if people were looking at the corresponding hologram (a bird for birdsong and a fountain while hearing the water sound) or a loud speaker, which makes adding sounds to outdoor spaces via loudspeakers a much more viable option.

Joo Hong, Bhan Lam, Zhen-Ting Ong, Kenneth Oo, Woon-Seng Gan, Jian Kang, Samuel Yeong, Irene Lee, and Sze-Tiong Tan.  2021. “A Mixed-Reality Approach to Soundscape Assessment of Outdoor Urban Environments Augmented with Natural Sounds.” Building and Environment, vol. 194, 107688,


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