As cities become more densely populated, we are increasingly building upward. What are the psychological implications of this shifting urban landscape?
City planners, urban designers, architects, urban policy makers, city mayors
Cities are densifying and are increasingly building skyscrapers. It is suggested that being in the presence of these massive buildings can have negative effects on psychological state. Considering the cities of the future could be dominated by skyscrapers, to the extent that they could be all we see, there needs to be a better understanding of the psychological impacts to help inform urban design practices.
Researchers took people to a location in Central London that had access to a low-rise and high-rise building. To understand the psychological impacts of building height, they exposed people to both and measured their emotional responses using wearable technology and a psychological questionnaire. They also took 360-degree video of the locations and repeated the study in virtual reality, which allowed them to have more experimental control and increased sample size.
The findings suggest that city environments populated with high-rise buildings can have negative emotional impacts on urban dwellers. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that 360-degree video viewed in virtual reality headset can elicit similar responses to those found in the real world, suggesting that this methodology can be used to further explore the psychological impacts of urban design.
This study suggests that cities should pay more attention to how many and where high-rise buildings are built. Practical implications such as space between buildings, or their proximity to public spaces such as parks should be considered.
'Exposure to high-rise buildings negatively influences affect: evidence from real world and 360-degree video' by Robin Mazumder, Hugo J Spiers and Colin G Ellard in Cities & Health.
Bristol Health Partners’ SHINE Health Integration Team (HIT) is a network partner for the Cities & Health journal, published by Routledge.
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