Latest Blog Posts
Peeples has written a comprehensive, general press review of research on the implications of experiencing circadian lighting (or not), which is available free to all at the web address noted below. Her work is a good introduction to circadian lighting for a non-technical audience. Peeples reports, for example that “there is little question that the study of human interaction with light is now in its heyday, and that the implications for our hopelessly indoor lives could be significant. . . . when optimally synchronized to natural light, our internal timekeepers direct our bodies to feel hungry, sleepy, alert, or energized at appropriate times. Too little light from the blue end of the visible spectrum during the day, or too much of that same light at night, research suggests, can cause an internal clock to slip off beat, setting off a cascade of potential consequences. These include not just poor sleep, reduced concentration, and contrarian moods, but over the long-term, increased risk of depression, diabetes, and cancer.”
Lynne Peeples. 2018. “Age of Enlightenment: The Promise of Circadian Lighting.” https://undark.org/article/circadian-lighting-human-centric-lighting/
Mullenbach and her team studied links between park location and features and public health. They determined that “Walkable access to parks, sufficient park acreage, and investments in park and recreation resources are 3 indicators of quality city park systems. . . . . Data were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 500 Cities Project, the Trust for Public Land’s City Park Facts Report, and the US Census Bureau. . . . Assessing the collective contribution of park access, park acreage, and investment suggests that improvements to a city’s composite score may correspond with greater physical activity.” Higher scores resulted when parks were larger, better funded, and more accessible, for example.
Lauren Mullenbach, Andrew Mowen, and Birgitta Baker. 2018. “Assessing the Relationship Between a Composite Score of Urban Park Quality and Health.” Preventing Chronic Disease, in press, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd15.180033
Vallance and team set out to determine if too much sitting is indeed as bad for us as smoking. They learned that smoking seems to have more negative health implications than sitting, although sitting for more than 8 hours a day does have undesirable repercussions on our health. The researchers report that “Sitting has frequently been equated with smoking, with some sources even suggesting that smoking is safer than sitting. . . . sitting and smoking are not comparable. The most recent meta-analysis of sedentary behavior and health outcomes reported a hazard ratio of 1.22 . . . for all-cause mortality. The relative risk (RR) of death from all causes among current smokers, compared with those who have never smoked, is 2.80 . . . for men and 2.76 for women. . . . Sedentary behavior is any waking behavior characterized by an energy expenditure less than or equal to 1.5 metabolic equivalents (METs), while in a sitting, reclining, or lying posture. . . . According to studies that used device-based measures of sedentary behaviors, adults typically spend 9 hours per day sitting. Older adults are sedentary, on average, 10 hours per day. . . .promulgating direct comparisons of the health consequences of sitting and smoking is not recommended.”
Jeff Vallance, Paul Gardiner, Brigid Lynch, Adrijana D’Silva, Terry Boyle, Lorian Taylor, Steven Johnson, Matthew Buman, and Neville Owen. 2018. “Evaluating the Evidence on Sitting, Smoking, and Health: Is Sitting Really the New Smoking?” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 108, no. 11, pp. 1478-1482, DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304649
Bargenda studied the silent messages communicated by corporate architecture. She reports that , “Architecture intersects with micro-level and macro-level marketing systems, as it inherently projects corporate identity while referring to broader artistic, social and historical parameters. . . . Especially in the finance sector, the rapid shift toward digitalization, crypto-currencies and online banking have dematerialized financial marketing systems. To retain their material visibility and competitive positioning in the marketplace, banks increasingly set up flagship venues of significant symbolic and cultural value, while closing down non-descript neighborhood branches devoid of iconographic expression. . . . the production and valorization of creative, meaningful and value-laden architectural spaces accrue [increase] the cultural meanings of organizations. . . . Whether a bank is located in a traditional stone building, a contemporary high-rise building or a regional venue, built materiality conveys discernible brand values to stakeholders. . . . For instance, sustainable building materials project ecologically responsible brand values to stakeholders.”
Angela Bargenda. “Building Meaning: Architectural Dialectic in Spatial Marketing Systems.” Journal of Macromarketing, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0276146718789232
A research team lead by Sun investigated the implications of how scenes are viewed. They report that “participants were asked to view the same garden in three different ways: directly, through a pane of glass, or as a projected slide. We tracked their eye-movement during the first minutes of observation to observe different gaze strategies used in the different modalities of viewing.” A Japanese garden was the visual stimulus because these types of gardens are designed to be viewed while sitting. The slide image was projected at full size and the photo used was taken just before it was assessed “to ensure that the garden scenery and slide image were as identical as possible.” The researchers conclude that “the subjects were concentrating more on the main elements of the scene when viewing it directly. . . . when subjects viewed the slide projection, they had less understanding of context and less connection to any particular object in the garden. By contrast, when the subjects viewed the garden directly or through a pane of the glass, they connected more completely with each of the main elements in the scene.”
Minkai Sun, Karl Herrup, Bertram Shi, Yutaka Hamano, Concong Liu, and Seiko Goto. “Changes in Visual Interaction: Viewing a Japanese Garden Directly, Through Glass or as a Projected Image.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2018.10.009
Investigators probed the effects of casino design on gambler behavior. Their research, published in JNeurosci determined that “The blinking lights and exciting jingles in casinos may encourage risky decision-making and potentially promote problem gambling behaviour. . . . ‘We found that an individual’s choices were less guided by the odds of winning when the casino-like audiovisual features were present in our laboratory gambling game,’ said . . . the study’s lead author Mariya Cherkasova. ‘Overall, people took more risks when playing the more casino-like games, regardless of the odds.’ . . . [this] study was prompted by earlier UBC research that found rats were more willing to take risks when their food rewards were accompanied by flashing lights and jingles. . . . ‘Using eye-tracker technology, we were able to see that people were paying less attention to information about the odds of winning on a particular gamble when money imagery and casino jingles accompanied the wins,’ said the study’s senior author Catharine Winstanley.”
“Casino Lights and Sound Encourage Risky Decision-Making.” 2018. Press release: The University of British Columbia, https://news.ubc.ca/2018/10/29/casino-lights-and-sounds-encourage-risky-...
Porch commissioned research which reveals differences—and similarities—in European and American opinions about home design. Their findings, derived after interviewing over 600 people living in the US and Europe about ideal home design, include “For nearly 45 percent of Americans and 52 percent of Europeans, the choice was clear: Waterfront views took home the grand prize. . . . while the ideal home size for Europeans was nearly 1,590 square feet, Americans felt they needed a home over three times that size—4,982 square feet, on average. . . . According to Americans and Europeans, the ranch house design was the most popular exterior style. . . . .The farmhouse and craftsman styles ranked highest for Americans . . . while Europeans opted for cottage- and Mediterranean-style homes instead. . . . Both Americans and Europeans favored wood flooring over any other option. . . . Americans were more interested in having centralized air conditioning and a laundry room, while Europeans favored solar panels, swimming pools, and libraries.” Porch shares that “This project relied on self-reporting, and the findings have not been statistically tested. Therefore, these results are intended for entertainment purposes only.”
Porch. 2018. “The Ideal Home: Comparing House Preferences in America and Europe.” https://porch.com/resource/ideal-home-america-europe
Dawson and Sleek review some of the recent research on how quickly times seems to pass in various sorts of places. As they report, “Compared with participants who completed less awe-inspiring activities, participants in the awe conditions [such as watching awe-inspiring videos . . . [of] waterfalls] reported feeling time passing more slowly. Additional findings . . . suggest that awe caused people to feel more “in the moment” and led them to see time as more abundant. Nature itself may slow our sense of time. . . . In experiments that included both virtual and actual environments, participants experienced walking through either natural surroundings such as a forest trail or bustling urban locations such as New York City. . . . the participants in the nature condition reported feeling a slower passage of time compared with those in the urban setting. And when the researchers actually took participants for walks in either natural or urban settings, those in the nature condition reported longer objective and subjective perceptions of elapsed time.”
Joe Dawson and Scott Sleek. 2018. “The Fluidity of Time: Scientists Uncover How Emotions Alter Time Perception.” Observer, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 24-27.
Work by Carter and colleagues indicates the value of designing opportunities for people to take periodic walking breaks into workplaces and other environments; for example, by providing headsets so that individuals can speak on the phone while walking and floor plans that streamline the process of walking and talking simultaneously. The Carter-lead team reports that “Decreased cerebrovascular blood flow and function are associated with lower cognitive functioning and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases. . . . This study explored the effect of uninterrupted sitting and breaking up sitting time on cerebrovascular blood flow and function of healthy desk workers. . . . Prolonged uninterrupted sitting [tested length of 4 hours] in healthy desk workers reduces cerebral blood flow. However, this reduction in cerebral blood flow is offset when frequent short-duration walking breaks [2-minutes of light-intensity walking every 30 minutes] are incorporated into this sitting period. For those who engage in long periods of sedentary behavior, chronically breaking up these sitting periods with frequent active break strategies may have important implications for cerebrovascular health; however, further research should explore this hypothesis."
S. Carter, R. Draijer, S. Holder, L. Brown, D. Thijssen, and N. Hopkins. 2018. Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 125, no. 3, pp. 790-798, doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00310.2018
Heller recently discussed the design of healthcare facilities in the Harvard Business Review. She states that “The size and layout of a room, whether a bed sits in the middle or against a wall (even which wall), how much space is maintained for patients to walk versus how many beds or operating equipment can be accommodated, have not been considered predictors of health outcomes in the past. That’s changing.” Design principles for effective healthcare environments shared include: “Make sure your vision reflects the ultimate objectives. . . . Seek input from people who don’t think like you [patients, families, physicians, etc.]. . . . Make the invisible visible [via maps, etc., indicate people who talk to each other and facility layouts, for example] . . . to make sure diverse people are seeing the same thing. . . . Shift[ing] the language . . . from verbal to visual uncovers the hidden dynamics that form our thinking and behavior and unleashes new thinking. . . . Experiment continually. . . . Counterbalance long-term planning through constant experimentation.”
Cheryl Heller. 2018.”How the Architecture of Hospitals Affects Health Outcomes.” Harvard Business Review (online), https://hbr.org/2018/10/how-the-architecture-of-hospitals-affects-health....