The temperature of air surrounding us has a dramatic effect on how we experience a space and what we do/think while we’re in it. The highlights of neuroscience research on our “best temperatures,” how design can influence how warm/cold we think a space is, and why ambient temperature matters at all are reviewed here.
HVAC, comfort effects
Research indicates that urban design is affecting neighborhood temperatures. A study conducted in Australia by Rouhollahi, Boland, and others determined that “New housing subdivisions, smaller yards and a dependence on air conditioning have resulted in a 30 per cent decline in Australian residential trees in the past decade, leading to hotter neighbourhoods and increased energy costs.”
Asano and colleagues learned that walking in hot outdoor environments can harm subsequent cognitive performance indoors; this finding supports creating more temperature controlled indoor walking areas in office complexes and similar locations. The research team reports that “In the experiments [conducted], a total of 96 participants took a mathematical addition test in an air-conditioned room before and after walking in an actual outdoor environment.
Speak and Salbitano evaluated comfort in a range of different urban places. They report that “The present study is based on a campaign of meteorological measurements in a large number of sites using a mobile data collection system to allow a human-centred approach. . . . In the case study of Florence, local physical characteristics of the sites; Sky View Factor (SVF), tree shade, ground surface cover, and canyon effect, can moderate human exposure to potentially uncomfortable thermal conditions during a typical Mediterranean summer.
Vellei and colleagues studied how preferred air temperatures vary from one time of day to another.
Ganesh and colleagues investigated how temperature influences user comfort.
Bourikas and colleagues report interesting relationships between perceptions of various aspects of office environments.
Erkan investigated how temperature influences “architectural liking.”