design research

Space Use, Post-Pandemic (01-07-21)

Lai, Webster, Kumari, and Sarkar (in press) make space-use suggestions related to social density management and appropriate social distancing: “School buildings are generally very inefficiently used, being unused at weekends and evenings. This gives scope for lower-density classes by spreading across time. . . . Future housing must also focus on the creation of a multi-functional design with inherent abilities to couple living with working to enable work-from-home routines that can not only facilitate performance efficiency but also individual’s wellbeing. .

Preferred Park Amenities (01-06-21)

Ogletree, Huang, Alberico, Marquet, Floyd, and Hipp identified the amenities parents are most interested in finding in the parks they visit with their children.  A study published in the Journal of Healthy Eating and Active Living, based on data collected in North Carolina and New York City from low-income parents of 5- to 10-year oldswho visited parks, indicates that “While parents from diverse backgrounds most often value parks that offer amenities like playgrounds, sports fields and green spaces, they also want parks to feel safe. . . .

As You’d Expect . . . (01-05-21)

Neuroscientists affiliated with Technische Universitat Dresden found that we “hear” what we expect to hear.  A press release from TU Dresden reports that “neuroscience research has revealed that the cerebral cortex constantly generates predictions on what will happen next, and that neurons in charge of sensory processing only encode the difference between our predictions and the actual reality.. . . new findings . . . show that not only the cerebral cortex, but the entire auditory pathway, represents sounds according to prior expectations.. . .  Dr.

Benefits of Time Outdoors (01-04-21)

Recently published research confirms the value of designing green spaces into our everyday environments. A paper published in the Journal of Happiness Studies reports that “Previous academic studies have indicated how being outdoors, particularly in green spaces, can improve mental health by promoting more positive body image, and lowering levels of depression and anxiety. . . . Using an experience sampling method (ESM), the researchers measured levels of happiness amongst a group of 286 adults three times a day, at random intervals, over a 21-day period. . . .

Pandemic Park Use (12-30-20)

The number of people visiting parks has increased during the pandemic, with design-related implications. Fisher, Grima, Sommer, Corcoran, Hill-James, and Langton conducted a study, published in PLoS One, which determined that “26% of people visiting parks during early months of the COVID-19 pandemic had rarely – or never – visited nature in the previous year. . . . According to the findings, nearly 70% of park users increased their visits to local nature. . . . . While 27% of people reduced their group size when visiting nature, another 11% of visitors increased their group size.

Acoustic Issues During the Pandemic (12-28-20)

Saunders and colleagues report that wearing facemasks impedes communication; design may, via whiteboards, new signage, etc., partially compensate for this impairment.  As the Sanders team reports, “An online survey consisting of closed-set and open-ended questions [was] distributed within the UK to gain insights into experiences of interactions involving face coverings, and of the impact of face coverings on communication. . . . With few exceptions, participants reported that face coverings negatively impacted hearing, understanding, engagement, and feelings of connection with the speaker.

Interpersonal Distance Stress (12-23-20)

Research done by Welsch and teammates, indicates that people are stressed by the interpersonal distances required to combat the spread of the pandemic; calming design options (for example), can partially combat this tension.  As the Welsch team reports: “Mandatory rules for social distancing to curb the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic require individuals to maintain a critical interpersonal distance above 1.5 m. However, this contradicts our natural preference, which is closer to 1 m for non-intimate encounters, for example, when asking a stranger for directions. . . .

By-Scent Communication (12-22-20)

Hofer, Chen, and Schaller make it clear that humans “communicate” extensively via scents.  Peoples’ need to pick up the odors of others supports subtle  scentscaping. The Hofer-lead team shares that “People readily perceive and react to the body odors of other people, which creates a wide range of implications for affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses. . . .

Pandemic Living (12-21-20)

Mehahed and Ghoneim discuss lived experiences in homes during the pandemic (which boosted, for example, the desirability of sound-insulated home offices with large windows), the health-related challenges of high-density living, and the need for future, multi-story buildings to support “touchless experience from the front door to the apartment door itself. . . . The building might have wider corridors and doorways, and many more staircases. . . .

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