Archive for ‘home design’

August 6, 2015

Dream Homes and the Idea of Happiness

I’ve recently re-read Alain de Botton’s Architecture of Happiness, a very popular book that deals with much of what I’m trying to learn about, though from a different, philosophic perspective. One of the book’s starting ideas  comes from another author: beauty is a promise of happiness, wrote Stendhal and de Botton discusses what this idea means in the world of  architecture. His interpretation is that we perceive a building as beautiful if we can imagine ourselves living happily in it.

homes2

Dream homes for my students

I often wondered how to translate these kind of observations and ideas into research domain. An opportunity to investigate the relations between buildings, especially homes, and happiness came from my work in school. In a popular optional homework called „Buy a Home“ my students were supposed to go to a real estate search website and find a home they wanted to “buy”. There was no money limit, but it had to be a property they would be able to take care of on their own (no butlers and housemaids allowed, so they don’t drift too far from the reality).

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April 30, 2015

Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses – part V (Design, Architecture and Urbanism)

There are some interesting online courses about design, architecture and urbanism starting soon. Some are new and some are long-anticipated re-runs for me, since I missed previous sessions.  Here they are:

city 3

Courses about design:

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January 29, 2012

A Year of Writing About Environmental Psychology Summarized in 10 Points

It’s been a year since I started writing about relations between people’s environment and their feelings, thoughts and behaviour. I find Mind Shaped Box’s first birthday a great opportunity to summarize what were, for me, the most significant points over the past year. I decided that there should be 10 of them.

by hownowdesign

With 29 topics in environmental psychology covered, I’d like to start with 3 of my favourites posts:

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January 5, 2012

Straight vs. Curved Lines in Architecture – the Importance of Forms for our Well-being

Loving works of architecture is, in a way, like loving people – some are cute, interesting,  not too strange, and appear warm and friendly. They seem somewhat familiar and are easy to love from the first sight. Then there are others, who make a lousy first impression – they seem boring and cold, but when you get to know them, they grow on you. Even more, you fall crazily in love with them.

Farnsworth house, designed by  Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1951, an icon of 20th century modern architecture; photo by andrewzahn

And this is how I’d describe my love for modernist minimalistic design with its straight lines and rectilinear shapes. It wasn’t until I learnt about the philosophy behind it, that I started to see it as not boring, but pure; not cold, but honest; and not depressing, but rather idealistic. In spite of my initaial lack of interest, I eventually fell in love with it.

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December 14, 2011

Environmental Cues for Food Intake – 10 Things that Prompt Us to Eat More Than We Need

With holiday season just around the corner, it seems like the right time to consider all things which prompt us to eat more than we need (and often more than we want to). Beside our physical  needs and individual psychological factors which are often discussed in this context, it’s amazing how much of our eating behavior can be explained by environmental factors.

photo by Polygon Homes

This is especially noticeable during holidays when many people gain weight inspite of their intentions. As you’ll see, the sudden change in eating behaviour most of us will experience in the following weeks can be well explained by the following 10 environmental factors:

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November 11, 2011

Reading a Floor Plan – What Attributes do You Attend to?

Are you, like me, one of those people who think of floor plans as very important for comprehension of space? When I stumble upon a great house tour or newly built dwelling in a regular check up of my favourite design and architecture sites, floor plans provide very crucial information for me. Like any design lover, I want to be able to visualize that beautiful space better in order to appreciate it and enjoy more. Photographs are great (and indispensable), but there’s something about floor plans that gets my imagination going.

Vintage magazine scan containing a floor plan; photo by SportSuburban

Since floor plans can be considered a spatial representation and communication tool – between architects, constructors, house sellers and house buyers, there’s a lot to be investigated from psychological perspectives on how people think about them, that is, on the cognitive processes underlying the conceptualization of floor plans.

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October 24, 2011

Housing Quality and Children’s Socioemotional Well-being

“By falling serendipitously into teaching in a Waldorf school for five years, I deeply learned the impact that an environment has on a person (particularly children). I saw, first hand, that the children who did best in the classroom came from the best homes, but this had nothing to do with any rich/poor divide, and all of the ingredients of the good homes that I witnessed were accessible to all.”

photo by yvestown

This teacher’s observation inspired me to look up for research on effects that housing quality has on children. And while “doing best in the classroom” could be understood as academic achievement, I’d like to look at in a broader sense of socioemotional wellbeing – it could mean the children who function the best in academic, social, and emotional aspects of their lives – who are motivated, interested, mature, creative, playful enough, cooperative, caring, etc.

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