Latest Blog Posts
Recently released research confirms the value of design that encourages movement. Evenson, Shiroma, Howard, Cuthbertson, Buring, and Lee found that “Taking more steps per day, either all at once or in shorter spurts, may help you live longer. . . . researchers used a wearable step counting device to compare the effects of uninterrupted bouts of steps (10 minutes or longer) to occasional short spurts, such as climbing the stairs and general daily activities throughout the day [such as housework]. . . Study participants who took more steps in short spurts lived longer, regardless of how many steps they had in longer, uninterrupted bouts. The benefits leveled off at about 4,500 steps per day in short spurts. Compared to no daily steps, each initial increase of 1,000 steps per day was associated with a 28% decrease in death during the follow-up period. A 32% decrease in death was noted in participants who took more than 2,000 steps daily in uninterrupted bouts.” All study participants were women over the age of 60.
“Taking More Steps Daily May Lead to a Longer Life.” 2021. Press release, American Heart Association, https://newsroom.heart.org/news/taking-more-steps-daily-may-lead-to-a-lo...
The Moran-lead team links at-work greenspace and positive health outcomes, even for prison employees. The researchers determined that “prisons with a higher proportion of natural vegetation within their perimeter have lower levels of staff sickness absence. . . . Econometric estimations presented in the paper confirm lower levels of staff sick-leave in prisons with more greenspace. This relationship persists when we control for [statistically remove the effects of] prison size, security level, age, level of crowding, levels of self-harm and violence among prisoners, and assaults against staff. The findings are significant in demonstrating the benefits of nature contact in workplaces in general.”
Dominique Moran, Phil Jones, Jacob Jordaan, and Amy Porter. “Nature Contact in the Carceral Workplace: Greenspace and Staff Sickness Absence in Prisons in England and Wales.” Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/00139165211014618
Bakker’s practical text delves into the effects of technology on built environments and the practice of architecture. In his Preface Bakker shares that his “book explores how technology is transforming architecture, and what this means for architects. From smart materials and 3D printing to bricklaying robots and data-driven design, the following chapters trace the seismic shifts in the way that architecture is both conceived and created, and how this hotbed of innovation is delivering (some of) the promises of improved communication, flexibility, wellbeing, productivity and data collection. . . . This book describes – and illustrates, using selected case studies – the ways in which architects and urban designers can adopt the smart use of materials, geometries and digital technologies to improve their products, while making sure that they stay closely connected to society as a whole, and mindful of the enormous responsibilities they carry for the health of humankind and the liveability of our home planet.”
Ron Bakker. 2020. Smart Buildings: Technology and the Design of the Built Environment. RIBA Publishing; London.
Research into during-pandemic experiences continues to be published. Cavazza and colleagues, reporting on data collected in Italy, share that “COVID-19 lockdown measures forced people to stay indoors 24/7s. . . . . household crowding during the lockdown was positively associated with support for anti-democratic political systems. . . . These associations did not depend on participants’ pre-pandemic socio-economic status and predisposition to strong political leaders.”
Nicoletta Cavazza, Silvia Russo Pasquale Colloca, and Michele Roccato. “Household Crowding Can Have Political Effects: An Empirical Study on Support for Anti-Democratic Political Systems During the COVID-19 Lockdown in Italy.” Journal of Environemntal Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2021.101628
Koo and teammates researched how design can enhance walkability. They share that “The built environment characteristics associated with walkability range from neighborhood-level urban form factors to street-level urban design factors. . . . . This paper uses computer vision to quantify street-level factors from street view images in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Correlation analysis shows that some streetscape factors are highly correlated with neighborhood-level factors. . . . [additional analyses] indicate that the streetscape factors can significantly contribute to explaining walking mode choice and that streetscape factors can have a greater association with walking mode choice than neighborhood-level factors. A potential explanation for the result is that the image-based streetscape factors may perform as proxies for some macroscale factors while representing the pedestrian experience as seen from eye-level.”
Bon Woo Koo, Subhrajit Guhathakurta, and Nisha Botchway. “How Are Neighborhood and Street-Level Walkability Factors Associated with Walking Behaviors? A Big Data Approach Using Street View Images.” Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/00139165211014609
A study published in the Journal of Marketing, written by Keh, Wang, and Yan, reports on effective retail display design; its findings are likely applicable more generally by retail designers. The Keh-lead team shares that “Imaginative displays are constructed using multiple units of the same product in a novel, yet aesthetically appealing, form. . . . relative to standard displays (i.e., non-novel and neutral aesthetics), imaginative displays can increase customers’ purchase intention, actual purchases, product sales, and ROI. . . . a themed imaginative display leads customers to infer benefits from the display, which increases their purchase behavior. . . . This effect applies to both familiar and less familiar brands. . . . For a themed imaginative display (i.e., has a particular shape mimicking an object), the retailer should ensure that the display form is congruent with the perceived product benefit to increase purchase behavior. Incongruence between display form and product benefit would backfire.”
“Press Release from the Journal of Marketing: Gimmicky or Effective? The Effects of Imaginative Displays on Customers’ Purchase Behavior.” 2021. Press release, American Marketing Association (press release by Matt Weingarden), https://www.ama.org/2021/05/13/press-release-from-the-journal-of-marketi...
Architectural researchers have found that when robots doing utilitarian tasks, such as removing garbage or moving equipment, talk and, specifically, when they speak with the local accent of wherever they are, that people who see and hear them at work may be more accepting of new technologies in their lives. The robots with the local accents studied were boxy, they did not have human-like forms. A press release related to the study (lead by Soraa) shares that architectural researchers “were interested in how people adjusted to, used, got around and were affected by the hospital’s architecture. . . . The researchers followed health care staff, patients and visitors on their routes in the hospital, and asked them questions about why they moved the way that they did, where they were headed, and how they felt at the time. . . . the [robots] kept turning up as a part of the conversation. . . . ‘These service robots were not created to be social robots,’ Soraa said. . . . And yet people still tend to socialize with them and find social qualities in them.’ This matters Soraa said, because it helps people accept the robots, and through that acceptance, other technologies that are coming our way are not seen as too alien.”
“An Automated Box on Wheels – With Personality.” 2021. Norwegian SciTech News (press release by Nancy Bazilchuk), https://norwegianscitechnews.com/2021/05/an-automated-robot-box-on-wheel...
Casiraghi and colleagues’ work indicates how tightly the experiences of all humans are tied to stimuli in the natural world. The researchers used “wrist actimetry to show a clear synchronization of nocturnal sleep timing with the lunar cycle in participants living in environments that range from a rural setting with and without access to electricity in indigenous Toba/Qom communities in Argentina to a highly urbanized postindustrial setting in the United States. Our results show that sleep starts later and is shorter on the nights before the full moon when moonlight is available during the hours following dusk. Our data suggest that moonlight likely stimulated nocturnal activity and inhibited sleep in preindustrial communities and that access to artificial light may emulate the ancestral effect of early-night moonlight.”
Leandro Casiraghi, Ignacio Spiousas, Gideon Dunster, Kaitlyn McGlothlen, Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, Claudia Valeggia, and Horacio de la Iglesia. 2021. “Moonstruck Sleep: Synchronization of Human Sleep with the Moon Cycle Under Field Conditions.” Science Advances, vol. 7, no. 5, eabe0465, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe0465
Research by Syrjanen and colleagues, linking responses to faces and odors smelled while evaluating them, can likely to applied in additional contexts. The investigators found via a literature review that “Generally, the results indicate that facial expressions are classified more rapidly in the context of odors. Apart from a few studies that show face-odor valence congruency effects, the most consistent finding is that valenced odors affect perceived face valence overall (e.g., faces are perceived as more unpleasant in an unpleasant odor condition).”
Elmeri Syrjanen, Hakan Fischer, Marco Liuzza, Torun Lindhom, and Jonas Olofsson. 2021. “A Review of the Effects of Valenced Odors on Face Perception and Evaluation.” I-Perception, vol. 12, no. 2, https://doi.org/10.1177/20416695211009552
Pink drinks seem to have particularly powerful effects on our physical performance. Researchers from the University of Westminster have found that “pink drinks can help to make you run faster and further compared to clear drinks. . . . a pink drink can increase exercise performance by 4.4 per cent and can also increase a ‘feel good’ effect which can make exercise seem easier.”All drinks evaluated were exactly the same except for their color. This study is published in Frontiers in Nutrition.
“Pink Drinks Can Help You Run Faster and Further, Study Finds.” Press release, University of Westminster, https://www.westminster.ac.uk/news/pink-drinks-can-help-you-run-faster-a...