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Mandeno and Baxter conducted interviews with people who have worked at coworking locations for at least 3 months to learn more about connections forged between people using these worksites. One of the barriers to human connectivity identified was atmosphere, “an all-encompassing barrier that refers to aspects of the physical space that may hinder the process of connecting.  Participants mentioned everything from seating to lighting . . . to the coffee space . . . to spaces feeling cheap . . . claustrophobic . . . and lacking privacy. . . As well as the basic requirements of comfort and safety, balance must be struck between creating spaces in which coworkers naturally bump into each other and that also afford privacy and intimacy.  Because of the diversity of members occupying most coworking spaces, designers should be cautious of applying the same rules that guide the design of traditional office spaces. . . . coworking settings are unique and greater effort is required to enable social normal and collegiate work to take place, supported by more successful interactions (Buchanan, 2010).”

P. Mandeno and W. Baxter.  2020.  “Barriers to Human Connectivity and the Design of More Collaborative Coworking Spaces.” International Design Conference- Design 2020,pp. 1475-1484,

Mavridis and colleagues’ work adds to the research indicating that our culture influences our perception of the world around us.  The investigators report that “Human perception differs profoundly between individuals from different cultures. . . . we investigated the development of context-sensitive attention (the relative focus on context elements of a visual scene) in a large sample . . . of 5- to 15-year-olds and young adults from rural and urban Brazil, namely from agricultural villages in the Amazon region and the city of São Paulo. . . . children and adults from the urban sample had a higher level of context-sensitive attention, when compared to children and adults from the rural sample. In particular, participants from São Paulo were more easily deceived by the context elements in an optical illusion task and remembered more context elements in a recognition task than participants from rural Amazon villages. . . . These findings support the idea that visual information processing is highly dependent on the culture-specific learning environments from very early in development.”

Pablo Mavridis, Joscha Kartner, Lilia Cavalcante, Briseida Resende, Nils Schuhmacher, and Moritz Koster.   2020.  “The Development of Context-Sensitive Attention in Urban and Rural Brazil.”  Frontiers in Psychology,

A Graham-lead team at the Center for the Built Environment, University of California, Berkeley, reviewed 20 years of data collected by the Center; their findings are available without charge at the web address noted below. The CBE researchers report that “One of the most widely used online POE [post-occupancy evaluation] tools is the Center for the Built Environment’s Occupant Survey. We analyzed data collected from this tool over the last two decades (>90,000 respondents from ~900 buildings) to summarize the database and evaluate the survey structure. 68% of the respondents are satisfied with their workspace. People are most satisfied with spaces’ ease of interaction (75% satisfied), amount of light (74%) and the cleanliness (71%), and most dissatisfied with sound privacy (54% dissatisfied), temperature (39%) and noise level (34%). . . . Roughly two fifths of building occupants felt the acoustic quality and thermal comfort were responsible for interfering with their ability to complete their work, and one quarter of respondents indicated the office layout was creating interference.”    

Lindsay Graham, Thomas Parkinson, and Stefano Schiavon. 2020. “Where Do We Go Now?  Lessons Learned from 20 Years of CBE’s Occupant Survey.”  Center for the Built Environment, University of California, Berkeley,

Gaminiesfahani and colleagues investigated how healthcare environments can best meet the needs of pediatric patients.  They determined via a review of published research that “the built environment characteristics of pediatric healthcare environments that have healing benefits include access to nature, music, art and natural light, reduced crowding, reduced noise, and soft, cyclical, and user-controlled artificial lighting.”

H. Gaminiesfahani, M. Lozanovska, and R. Tucker. “A Scoping Review of the Impact on Children of the Built Environment Design Characteristics of Healing Spaces.” HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, in press,

Clouse’s team investigated the optimal design of spaces to be used by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  They share that “Mostafa recommended seven design criteria known as ASPECTSS™: Acoustics, Spatial sequencing, Escape spaces, Compartmentalization, Transition spaces, Sensory zoning, and Safety, when designing for people with ASD. These classifications lay the groundwork for the established guidelines. . . . recommendations demonstrate that sensitivity to the needs of people with autism creates a solution that is better for all people.”

Joslin Clouse, Jeanneane Wood-Nartker, and Franklyn Rice.  2020. “Designing Beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):  Creating an Autism-Friendly Vocational Center.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, vol.13,no. 3, pp. 215-229,

Nilsson lead a team that reviewed previously published studies to learn how birthing room design affects mothers and neonates, physically and emotionally.  They share that “The results of the analysis reveal four prominent physical themes in birthing rooms that positively influence on maternal and neonate physical and emotional outcomes: (1) means of distraction, comfort, and relaxation; (2) raising the birthing room temperature; (3) features of familiarity; and (4) diminishing a technocratic environment.”

Christina Nilsson, Helle Wijk, Lina Hoglund, Helen Sjoblom, Eva Hessman, and Marie Berg. 2020. “Effects of Birthing Room Design on Maternal and Neonate Outcomes:  A Systematic Review.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 198-214,

Li and Tian assessed how viewing preferred art influences perceptions of the amount of time that has passed.  The researchers report that “Participants who preferred Chinese paintings . . . and participants who preferred western paintings . . . were recruited. . . . participants who preferred Chinese paintings exhibited longer time perceptions for Chinese paintings than for western paintings, while the participants who preferred western paintings exhibited longer time perceptions for western paintings than for Chinese paintings. . . . individuals perceive longer painting presentation durations when exposed to the stimuli matching their aesthetic preferences.”

Lingjjng Li and Yu Tian. “Aesthetic Preference and Time: Preferred Painting Dilates Time Perception.”  Sage Open, in press,

Specker and colleagues evaluated the implications of an artwork’s context.  They report that their work was “conducted in the Albertina Museum in Vienna. . . . We used an impressionist artwork of waterlilies by Monet, placed within both a temporary exhibition—meant to highlight his revolutionary anticipation of abstraction—and within a permanent exhibition of other impressionistic pieces not highlighting deviance. Results showed that the artist was indeed considered more influential in the temporary exhibition. These findings provide quantification for how curatorial narratives can change whether and when artists are considered influential.”

Eva Specker, Eftychia Stamkou, Matthew Pelowski, and Helmut Leder.  “Radically Revolutionary or Pretty Flowers?  The Impact of Curatorial Narrative of Artistic Deviance on Perceived Artist Influence.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press,

A hot topic in the psych world is whether plants have some sort of consciousness;  whether they do or not may not have design related consequences, but who knows for sure?  In a recent article, Castiello, for example, states “Up until the middle of the 19th century, some data about plant behavior could be found in books dealing with comparative psychology. The tendency gradually faded away, and the topic was almost exclusively treated in literature dealing with plant physiology. In recent years, however, there has been a revamping of psychological terminology and theorizing to describe, explain, and formulate hypotheses on the evidence that many of the sophisticated behaviors plants exhibit are an expression of cognitive competences that are generally attributed to human and nonhuman animals. . . . I shall discuss a selection of experimental studies supporting the idea that plants could be defined as cognitive agents. Experiments showing that the behavior of plants is controlled by a representation of its goal, episodic-like memory, and decision-making will be described.”

Umberto Castiello. “(Re) claiming Plants in Comparative Psychology.”  Journal of Comparative Psychology, in press,

Researchers have found that the mental maps we use to keep track of social relationships are similar to those we develop in our minds to help us find our way from one place to another. A press release from the University of California, Davis, describing a study conducted by Boorman, Park, Miller, Ranganath, and Nili and published in Neuron, states “Even in these social-distanced days, we keep in our heads a map of our relationships with other people: family, friends, co-workers and how they relate to each other. New research . . .  shows that we put together this social map in much the same way that we assemble a map of physical places and things. . . . The study points to a general principle behind how we make decisions based on past experience. Whether we are remembering a route in the physical world, or learning about a set of friends and acquaintances, we start with a template, such as a 2D topology, and a few landmarks, and fit new data around them.” This finding may support the design of effective wayfinding systems, for example.

“Brain Builds and Uses Maps of Social Networks, Physical Space, in the Same Way.”  2020.  Press release, University of California, Davis,


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