Day 4 - Behavioural Science - Conscious Cities Festival 2018
The Bartlett School of Architecture, 22 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0QB

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.


Behaviour and architecture

Prof. Kate Jeffery

Prof. Kate Jeffery

University College London (UCL)

Kate founded the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience at UCL, a laboratory comprising several researchers who use physiological methods to study cognition. She studies how spatially sensitive neurons encode complex spaces, with a particular focus on two main issues: three-dimensional space, and the internal “sense of direction”.

Prof Jeffery will be introducing the event as well as chairing the panel debate. 

Spatial cognition and architecture – from evidence to design

Prof. Christoph Hölscher

Prof. Christoph Hölscher

Chair of Cognitive Science at ETH Zurich

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.

Advances in digital media and computation have spurred renewed interest in modeling, anticipating and predicting the human experience of architectural spaces. But how does one capture the ‘soft’ factors of human behavior and human appreciation of a building design? How can psychological parameters be included as part of evidence-based design? I will provide on overview of how our spatial cognition research group tackles this with an emphasis on human movement pattern in complex, publically accessible environments. We combine real world behavior observation with Virtual Reality simulation of building design options. This goes beyond traditional post-occupancy evaluation by providing pre-occupancy assessment opportunities. To capture the richness of human perception and environmental appreciation we engage volunteer participants in a series of interaction tasks in a real or virtual setting, measuring their reactions with behavior- and path-tracing, eye-tracking and physiological measures of stress and arousal. This helps us identify points of misfit between the architect’s intentions and the present – or future – patrons’ reaction to the building design. Digital tools provide the basis for immersive virtual reality experiments to compare design alternatives, as well as for agent-based simulations of patron behavior, both for individual wayfinding analysis and development of cognitively enriched crowd movement simulations.  

From collective patterns to preferences and perceptions: Space Syntax as a tool to think with

Dr. Kerstin Sailer

Dr. Kerstin Sailer

Social and Spatial Networks at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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

Space Syntax is a configurational theory which aims to explore the social logic of space: how people move through space, encounter each other and form social groups. Traditionally, space syntax focused on collective patterns of space usage, for instance the flow of movement through a spatial network as a result of its structure.

In this talk, I will present examples of empirical work that highlight how space syntax can be used to shed light on the diversity and dynamics of socio-spatial behaviours, such as preferences of different groups of people as well as perceptions of space. This contributes to an understanding of space as a layered, dynamic and changing experience.

Designing for psychological needs

Dr. Nigel Oseland

Dr. Nigel Oseland

Environmental Psychologist, UCL

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 EvaluationMaking 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.

Dr Nigel Oseland will present an overview of core environmental and evolutionary psychological principles, and associated research, that impacts the design of workspace and placemaking.

Creating places that support health

Rachel Toms

Rachel Toms

Healthy Places Unit, Public Health England

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.