Research on the fascinating ways humans process sensory information continues. Velasco and colleagues report that “People map different sensory stimuli, and words that describe/refer to those stimuli, onto spatial dimensions in a manner that is non-arbitrary. . . . participants [in this Velasco-lead study] . . . locate[d] the word ‘sweet’ higher in space than the word ‘bitter’. . . . participants also positioned products that are typically expected to be sweet (cupcake and honey) or bitter (beer and coffee) spatially.
MacNaughton and colleagues quantified some of the benefits of environmentally responsible design. They “calculated year by year LEED . . . certification rates in six countries (the United States, China, India, Brazil, Germany, and Turkey) and then used data from the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) to estimate energy savings in each country each year. . . . LEED accounts for 32% of green-certified floor space and publically reports energy efficiency data. . . .
Walker, Scallon, and Francis studied links between sensory experiences. They report that “Everyday language reveals how stimuli encoded in one sensory feature domain can possess qualities normally associated with a different domain (e.g., higher pitch sounds are bright, light in weight, sharp, and thin). Such cross-sensory associations appear to reflect crosstalk among aligned (corresponding) feature dimensions, including brightness, heaviness, and sharpness. . .
The design of hospital emergency departments can have life-and-death implications, literally. Naccarella and colleagues investigated “design factors that influence informal interprofessional team-based communication within hospital emergency departments. . . . Three key factors influenced the extent to which ED workspaces facilitated informal communication: (1) staff perceptions of privacy, (2) staff perceptions of safety, and (3) staff perceptions of connectedness to ED activity.. .
Hooper and colleagues set out to learn more about the consequences of living in new urbanist communities. They studied 36 suburban neighborhood developments in Perth and determined that “with each 10% increase in [new urbanist] policy compliance, residents odds of experiencing high sense of community increased by 21% . . . and low psychological distress increased by 14%. . . .
Urban and Sailer investigated the relationship between workplace green building certification and occupant satisfaction. They “analyz[ed] DGNB (German Green Building Council), BREEAM, and LEED certification and rating systems and match[ed] this with quantitative research into office buildings’ occupant satisfaction. The aim [was] to explore whether highly rated buildings are also perceived as excellent by users. . . .
Olafsdottir and her colleagues evaluated the effects of recreational walking in different settings on the mood and stress levels of university students. They state that “We hypothesized that walking in nature has restorative effects over and above the effects of exposure to nature scenes (viewing nature on TV) or physical exercise alone (walking on a treadmill in a gym) and that these effects are greater when participants were expected to be more stressed. . .
Decades ago Csikszentmihalyi introduced the world to “flow.” Isham and colleagues integrated the concepts of flow and environmental management and report that “Csikszentmihalyi suggested that engaging in challenging, flow-conducive activities is a means by which individuals can improve well-being without substantially affecting the environment. . . . we test this proposal by examining data concerning the daily experiences and well-being of 500 U.S. families.
Research indicating how distracting the presence of smartphones is continues to accumulate; smartphones have a significant effect even when we’re not speaking on them. This collection of findings indicates how important it is to effectively eliminate other distractions in workplaces and otherwise support research-informed design, as smartphones will be a continuing a presence in work environments. The Ward-lead team found that “even when people are successful at maintaining sustained attention—as when avoiding the temptation to check their phones—the mere presence of these devices reduces
For an interesting review of how workplace design can influence how organizations function (and vice versa, among other topics), read Steven Levy’s oral history of Apple (“An Oral History of Apple’s Infinite Loop, Wired2018), available at https://www.wired.com/story/apple-infinite-loop-oral-history/