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Woo and colleagues assessed indoor environmental quality’s (IEQ’s) effects on workplace user experiences.  They collected data from 7 office buildings and report that “Three types of buildings were included in this study: ‘Heritage listed’ (c.1880–1890s), ‘Conventional’ (c.1960–1980s) and ‘Modern’ (post 2000) office buildings. Although the measured IEQ conditions were relatively good with no significant fluctuation across the selected buildings, the discrepancy between objective IEQ data and subjective occupant evaluations was noted. The Modern building type designed with fully double-glazed façades showed the highest levels of overall comfort and satisfaction and perceived productivity, whereas the Conventional building type constructed during the late 20th-century period, notable for deep floor plates, had the lowest. The heritage listed type buildings had lower window to wall ratios, yet displayed improved occupant satisfaction across all IEQ areas over the conventional type buildings. . . . Subjective evaluations do not seem to be always correlated to the corresponding indoor environmental parameters.”

Jin Woo, Priyadarsini Rajagopalan, Matthew Francis, and Prachi Garnawat.  2021.  “An Indoor Environmental Quality Assessment of Office Spaces at an Urban Australian University.”  Building Research and Information, vol. 49, no. 8, pp. 842-858, https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2021.1944037

Brill and Wang tie higher in-classroom noise levels to degraded ability to math test scores among students in grades 3, 5, 8, and 11.  They report that “Three metrics describing the classroom acoustics, including the average daily A-weighted equivalent level for non-speech, the average daily difference between the A-weighted equivalent levels for speech and non-speech (a signal to noise ratio), and the mid-frequency averaged reverberation time, were analyzed against classroom-aggregated standardized reading and math achievement test scores, while controlling for classroom demographics including socioeconomic status. . . . A statistically significant relationship was found between the average daily non-speech levels in classrooms and math test scores; higher daily non-speech levels were correlated with lower math test scores. . . . No statistically significant main effects of acoustic metrics were found on reading achievement. . . .  Children learn in occupied classrooms, and the findings from this investigation based on data from occupied conditions suggest that designing for lower unoccupied sound levels can lead to occupied environments that are conducive to better student learning outcomes.”

Laura Brill and Lily Wang.  2021.   “Higher Sound Levels in K-12 Classrooms Correlate to Lower Math Achievement Scores.”  Frontiers in Built Environment, vol. 7, 688395, https://doi.org/10.3389/fbuil.2021.688395

Mintz and colleagues studied how having contact with nature influenced human experience during COVID-19 lockdowns.  They determined that “Nature contact [was] associated with higher positive affect [mood], and lower negative affect/stress. Various forms of contact with real nature were beneficial to well-being. . . . The study took place in Israel during the last week of the first COVID-19 lockdown, when citizens were restricted to remain within 100 m of home. . . . nature near home and nature viewed from the windows contributed to higher levels of well-being, and that being in nature on the preceding day was associated with higher levels of positive affect. . . . Viewing nature images was also associated with level of well-being, mainly to reduced level of stress and negative affect.” Contact with nature was defined to include “Nature near home, Nature viewed from home windows, and being in nature on the preceding day.” 

Keren Mintz, Ofira Ayalon, Orly Nathan, and Tzipi Eshet.  2021. “See or Be?  Contact with Nature and Well-Being During COVID-19 Lockdown.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 78, 101714, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2021.101714

Engelen, Rahmann, and de Jong reviewed published studies to learn more about how design influences Quality of Life (QoL) of older individuals.  They report that their work “takes a cross-disciplinary approach to understand the current evidence of the relationship between design, healthy ageing and QoL. . . . The extracted literature suggests there is good evidence for the role of biophilia, and indoor environmental quality; emerging evidence for technology, wayfinding, and opportunities for social interactions; but limited evidence for safety/security and adaptability/fit. One significant consideration for healthy ageing was older adults maintaining agency in their lives, including the ability to exert control over their environment in order to support healthy ageing.”

Lina Engelen, Margie Rahmann, and Ellen de Jong.  “Design for Healthy Ageing – The Relationship Between Design, Well-Being, and Quality of Life:  A Review.”  Building Research and Information, in press, https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2021.1984867

Bongiorno and colleagues set out to learn more about how people find their way through cities.  The group reports that they “analyze salient features of human path planning through a statistical analysis of a massive dataset of GPS traces, which reveals that (1) people increasingly deviate from the shortest path when the distance between origin and destination increases and (2) chosen paths are statistically different when origin and destination are swapped. We posit that direction to goal is a main driver of path planning and develop a vector-based navigation model; the resulting trajectories, which we have termed pointiest paths, are a statistically better predictor of human paths than a model based on minimizing distance with stochastic effects. Our findings generalize across two major US cities with different street networks, hinting to the fact that vector-based navigation might be a universal property of human path planning.”  So, we’ll choose the route that seems to point most directly toward our destination, even if traveling this route actually requires us to walk a longer distance; we choose the path that allows us to most directly face our goal as we begin to walk.  Also, we tend to choose different routes for each direction of a round trip journey.

Christian Bongiorno, Yulun Zhou, Marta Kryven, David Theurel, Alessandro Rizzo, Paolo Santi,  Joshua Tenenbaum, and Carlo Ratti.  2021.  “Vector-Based Pedestrian Navigation in Cities.”  Nature Computational Science, vol. 1, pp. 678-685, https://doi.org/10.1038/s43588-021-00130-y

Larson investigated workplace experiences.  She determined via interviews that “workers use various practices including personalization and reconfiguration of one’s workspace, creating positive meanings, carving out private spaces, and creating community to create home at work. The humanistic geography literature suggests that workers undergo these activities in order to thrive and live an authentic human existence. In light of changes to work, organizations, and society, it seems that work may be an increasing source of attachment for workers and that homemaking at work facilitates this connection.”

Elizabeth Larson.  2021.  “Creating Home at Work:  Humanistic Geography and Placemaking in Organizations.”  Culture and Organization, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 437-455, https://doi.org/10.1080/14759551.2020.1861453

Kalantari and Shepley assessed the experience of living in a high-rise building.  They determined via reviewing previously published studies that “negative psychological and social impacts have been consistently associated with high-rise environments, particularly for lower-income populations.”

Saleh Kalantari and Mardelle Shepley.  2021.  “Psychological and Social Impacts of High-Rise Buildings:  A Review of the Post-Occupancy Evaluation Literature.”  Housing Studies, vol. 36, no. 8, pp. 1147-1176, https://doi.org/10.1080/02673037.2020.1752630

Researchers continue to investigate the implications of experiencing enriched environments.  A team lead by Borgmeyer, reports in an article published in Cell Reports that “’We usually enjoy a beautiful environment, socializing, a cosy apartment, good restaurants, a park - all this inspires us,’ says Robert Ahrends. . . . Previous studies have already shown that such an enriched environment can sometimes have a positive effect on child development or even on the human ability to regenerate, e.g. after a stroke. . . .  To clarify the underlying molecular principles, the researchers offered . . . rodents, their model organisms, an enriched environment based on plenty of room to move, a running wheel and other toys. . . . analyses revealed that 178 proteins and 20 lipids were significantly regulated depending on whether the rodents had spent time in an enriched environment or an uncomfortable one. . . . the current study provides a molecular explanation for why an enhancing stimulating environment can have a positive effect on neuronal plasticity and brain development.”

“How an Enriched Environment Fires Up Our Synapses.”  2021.  Press release, Universitat Wien, https://chemie.univie.ac.at/en/news-events/aktuelles-befuellen/aktuelles...

Jarvis and colleagues studied the implications of experiencing green environments.  They report that “Early childhood development was assessed via teacher ratings on the Early Development Instrument (EDI), and we used the total EDI score as the primary outcome variable. We estimated greenspace using percentage vegetation derived from spectral unmixing of annual Landsat satellite image composites. Lifetime residential exposure to greenspace was estimated as the mean of annual percentage vegetation values within 250 m of participants’ residential postal codes. . . .  We estimated the mediation effects of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), fine particulate matter (PM2·5), and noise levels using causal mediation analyses. . . . 1 IQR [inter quartile range] increase in percentage vegetation was associated with a 0·16 . . . increase in total EDI score, indicating small improvements in early childhood development. . . . Increased exposure to residential greenspace might improve childhood development by reducing the adverse developmental effects of traffic-related exposures, especially NO2 air pollution.”

Ingrid Jarvis and 12 others. 2021. “Assessing the Association Between Lifetime Exposure to Greenspace and Early Childhood Development and the Mediation Effects of Air Pollution and Noise in Canada:  A Population-Based Birth Cohort Study.”  The Lancet, vol. 5, no 10, pp. E709-E717, https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(21)00235-7

Lee, Lee, and Choi investigated the psychological implications of savoring art.  They learned that “Previous research has indicated that engaging in art activities is beneficial to both psychological and physical well-being; however, few studies have examined the link between attitudes toward art and well-being. In the present study, we have termed a positive and appreciative attitude toward art as savoring art and have investigated the relationship between savoring art and individual well-being. . . . The results suggested that savoring art was linked to a greater level of both PWB [meaningful happiness/psychological well-being] and SWB [hedonic happiness/subjective well-being]. . . . savoring art correlated with reduced biological health risk, as measured by objective biomarkers for inflammation and hypertension. The results from the present study highlight the potential psychological and physical benefits of savoring art, regardless of individuals’ socioeconomic condition, level of openness to experience, or art engagement frequency.”

Seojin Lee, Sung-Ha Lee, and Incheol Choi.  “Do Art Lovers Lead Happier and Even Healthier Lives?  Investigating the Psychological and Physical Benefits of Savoring Art.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, in press, https:///doi.org/10.1037/aca0000441

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