place science

Recap: Looking at Wood (01-29-21)

Lipovac and Burnard review published research related to looking at wood (physical or virtual indoor interactions with real or imitation wood) and reach the conclusion that “Studies with longer exposure times to wood generally observed improved affective states [moods] and decreased physiological arousal in wooden settings. . . . Current evidence suggests that visual wood exposure may improve certain indicators of human stress. . . . Current research suggests that visual wood exposure could lead to beneficial outcomes, but the evidence is limited.  .  .

COVID and At-Home Plants (01-28-21)

Perez-Urrestarazu and colleagues confirm the psychological value of plants by discussing at-home experiences during the pandemic.  The researchers share that they learned via a survey completed by thousands of participants that the presence of “Indoor plants correlated with positive emotional well-being during the COVID-19 confinement.  Negative emotions were more frequent in those living in small sized homes with minimal natural light and deprived of plants.  Few plants strategically placed indoors and a higher number of plants combined with living walls outdoors are preferred. . .

Depression and Street Trees (01-27-21)

Marselle and colleagues link more street trees closer to homes to a decreased likelihood that residents will be depressed.  The investigators report that they  “analysed the association of street tree density and species richness with antidepressant prescribing for 9751 inhabitants of Leipzig, Germany. We examined spatial scale effects of street trees at different distances around participant’s homes, using . . . buffers of 100, 300, 500, and 1000 m. . . . we found a lower rate of antidepressant prescriptions for people living within 100 m of higher density of street trees. . . .

Open Plan Offices Book (01-26-21)

Kaufmann-Buhler reports on the life course of open plan offices in America.  Her focus is on “the material and technical aspects of the open plan and systems furniture that manifest through its design, production, specification and use.  My research draws on information and data from dozens of different open plan of ‘systems’ furniture lines ranging from the major names in the industry such as Herman Miller, Steelcase and Knoll to the lesser known systems by companies like Eppinger, Krueger, Kimball, and Hauserman.”  As Bloomsbury shares on the book’s website (

Ergonomics and Architecture (01-25-21)

Eilouti presents a system for integrating ergonomics concepts into place-design decisions that reflects many existing best practices:  “The process of the ergonomics-driven design includes the following steps:

1.     Study and analyze the physical, psychological, and social needs for each expected user.

2.     Design each space in the functional program according to its user’s needs.

3.     Cluster the individual spaces into zones according to their functional requirements and occupants’ interactions.

Child Sensory Experiences (01-22-21)

Ross and team’s research confirms that responses to sensory experiences by children do not always directly align with those of adults, a finding that supports user age group-specific research.  The investigators report that “When adults are presented with basic multimodal sensory stimuli, the Colavita effect suggests that they have a visual dominance, whereas more recent research finds that an auditory sensory dominance may be present in children under 8 years of age. . . .

Clutter and Wellbeing (01-21-21)

Research completed by Rogers and Hart confirms that experiencing visual clutter is undesirable.  The duo found that when people feel that their homes are cluttered, their wellbeing is degraded,  “although the correlation between objective and subjective clutter was strong, 47.3% of those who scored in the healthy range of clutter on the objective clutter scale, reported that clutter has negatively impacted their quality of life. . . . This suggests that even when people manage clutter reasonably well, it can impact their quality of life. . . .

Gender and In-Space Experiences (01-20-21)

Researchers have identified fundamental differences in how men and women experience space.  Wood and Jones report in a study published in Nature Human Behaviour that the increasingly gendered division of labor in human societies during the past 2.5 million years dramatically shaped how our species uses space, and possibly how we think about it.  Underlying these conclusions is a huge and detailed trove of travel data revealing stark differences in the ways men and women among the nomadic Hadza people of Tanzania use space.

Groups and Thinking (01-19-21)

Design researchers will find research recently published by Guilbeault, Baronchelli, and Centola (in Nature Communications) readily applicable. The team reports that “In an experiment in which people were asked to categorize unfamiliar shapes, individuals and small groups created many different unique categorization systems while large groups created systems that were nearly identical to one another. . . .

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