Alongside visual tools, architects use intuition and a well-developed sense of empathy to imagine the experience of another within the environment being created. However, not only are these understandings limited by our subjective disposition, they are also difficult to express to others effectively. Increasingly so, science is creating insights that can augment the architect’s ability to curate an experience. The adoption of new tools from psychology and neuroscience into the architect’s creative process is now a viable and promising opportunity.
Conscious Cities, The Bartlett School of Architecture, and the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience will host a series of short talks and a panel debate with researchers at the forefront of creating behavioural insights.
Kate Jeffery is a neuroscientist researching how the brain makes an internal representation of space, the so-called "cognitive map", which it can use for navigation. She investigates this by studying the activity of a class of brain cells called place cells, which seem to form the core of a place-knowledge system used for both navigation and memory. Her current research focuses on how the brain represents complex space, with a particular focus on two main issues: three dimensional space, and the internal “sense of direction”. She heads the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at UCL, and is co-director of the electrophysiology company Axona Ltd, which makes high-density recording systems for behavioural neuroscientists. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, Fellow and Vice-President of the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN), and chairs the Cognitive Navigation (CogNav) special interest group in the RIN, which aims to link cognitive scientists with architects, designers and other professionals interested in navigation. Recently she has also begun actively campaigning on the increasingly urgent and worrying issue of climate change
Dr Kerstin Sailer is Reader in Social and Spatial Networks at the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London. She investigates the impact of spatial design on people and social behaviours inside a range of buildings such as offices, laboratories, hospitals and schools. An architect by training, her research interests combine complex buildings, workplace environments and space usage with social networks, organisational theory and organisational behaviour.
At the Bartlett she leads the module ‘Buildings, Organisations, Networks’ in the MSc ‘Space Syntax: Architecture and Cities’. Her research has been funded by both industry and research councils including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Innovate UK and Google. Kerstin has co-founded the think-tank brainybirdz to advance scientific thinking in workplace design. She also runs the blog Space and Organisation.
Christoph Hölscher is Full Professor of Cognitive Science in the D-GESS at ETH Zürich since 2013, with an emphasis on Applied Cognitive Science. Since 2016 Christoph is a Principal Investigator at the Singapore ETH Center (SEC) Future Cities Laboratory, heading a research group on ‘Cognition, Perception and Behaviour in Urban Environments’. He holds a PhD in Psychology from University of Freiburg, served as honorary senior research fellow at UCL, Bartlett School of Architecture, and is a visiting Professor at Northumbria University Newcastle.
Christoph has several years of industry experience in Human-Computer Interaction and usability consulting. The core mission of his research groups in Zurich and Singapore is to unravel the complex interaction of humans and their physical, technical and social environment with an emphasis on cognitive processes and task-oriented behaviour.
Dr Nigel Oseland is an environmental psychologist, researcher, workplace strategist, change manager, public speaker and author with 11 years research and 19 years consulting experience. Nigel is an internationally recognised expert in post occupancy evaluation, impact of design on performance, agile working, psychophysics and the psychology of the workplace.
Nigel has published over 100 academic papers, books and guides including: Improving Office Productivity: A Guide for Business and Facilities Managers, the BCO Guide to Post-Occupancy Evaluation, Making Flexible Working Work and CIBSE TM24 Environmental Factors Affecting Office Worker Performance: Review of Evidence. He continues to write articles and guidance and has recently published chapters in four new books on POE and performance. Nigel regularly presents at international conferences, and organises the biannual Workplace Trends conference and annual Designing & Managing Learning Environments conference.
Rachel champions the role of the built environment in supporting health. She is part of Public Health England’s Healthy Places Unit, where she runs PHE’s housing and health programme. Rachel has led healthy place-making research, advocacy and guidance projects, including for NHS England’s ‘Healthy New Towns’ programme and for Design Council, which helps organisations use design to improve people’s lives. A qualified landscape architect, she has designed streets and public spaces in the UK, Ireland, India and Nepal, delivered town centre regeneration and managed social housing. Rachel previously worked for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, advising local authorities, developers and designers on development and regeneration proposals across England, and running a design advice programme for secondary schools for the Department for Education. She leads on built environment for the Mayor of London’s Child Obesity Taskforce and is a member of the Wandsworth Design Review Panel. As part of the community group Wandsworth Living Streets, Rachel campaigns for people-friendly streets in south-west London.