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:
Courses about design:
Environmental psychology visualized.
Even though small towns and pre-planned communities I wrote about before offer an interesting context for any environmental psychologist, the appeal of big cities is undeniable. That’s why I’ll research options for a PhD in environmental psychology in two capitals of the world – one traditional and one contemporary – Rome and New York.
Rome panorama; photo by Giampaolo Macorig
It’s hard not to feel like a fragile creature with short expiration date while walking amid stone edifices that stood as silent witnesses of human history for over 2 thousand years. That’s just my experience of the historic center of Rome (listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site), anyway. The feeling is not bad, though. Even without tour guides and guide books, just being there feels like an incredibly enriching learning experience. An experience that is beyond words, for after all, buildings don’t speak in words. Yet somehow, they might be telling us more about mankind than you’d learn from psychology books.
In a paper titled “Is there a place for children in a city?” Arza Churchman (2003) asks the following question: Does the city, through its design and planning, and through the attitudes and behaviour of adults, transmit the message to the children that they are welcome, that they are an equal part of the society in the city? Just think of all the limitations children are faced with due to (reasonable!) safety concerns of their parents, limitations that become more and more constraining with each new generation. With significantly less privacy and freedom then before, constantly supervised by adults (unless they’re “babysat” by TV of PC), the children of today may be receiving the message that the environment we’ve created is not a friendly place for them.
photo by guilmay
There are little oases amid the noisy confusion of life though, that celebrate children’s most important activity – play. It has been stated that independent and diverse play and exploration is important to children’s development, specifically their motor skills and physical health, cognitive development, social relationships with peers and formations of connections with the natural world (Kyttä, 2004).
Break the monotony of straight lines, smooth surfaces and neutral colors of an urban environment with a simple fountain or a pond, and you’ll see a big change in people’s behaviour. Ignoring other aspects of their environment that stress the importance of order, rules, organization and schedule, people instantly become playful and spontaneous. Water tempts us to stop and look at it, touch it, throw stones in it.. and be a kid for a moment.
Courtyard of Somerset House, London; photo by Marxpix
While we all know that aquatic environments are appealing to us, the study by White et al. (2010) answers the question how appealing they are compared to natural and built non-aquatic environments, and probably more important – how can water in built environments improve urban experience?