Our on-going research, where we are seeking to understand, record and analyse human emotional responses to the design of buildings and spaces, is being showcased as part of the Ecocity World Summit 2023, which in being held in London this month.

By researching and measuring emotional responses to buildings, we aim to capture wellbeing and identify how different elements of places and spaces can be designed to induce happiness and enjoyment, to ensure that people have a positive experience from our buildings, especially in urban environments.

This study is being led by our Chairman, Laurie Chetwood, and Dr. Erika Parn, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge.

Over the last twelve months we have trialled several different technologies that can analyse even the smallest facial movements to deliver data on emotional responses, including a VR plug-in for eye tracking and a 360-degree model visualiser.

The latest technology we have utilised is Sticky by Tobii Pro, an online cutting-edge eye tracking and survey tool that gathers feedback from multiple people across different locations. The programme uses artificial neural networks, which are applied to computer-created visualisations, and then used for affective computing which recognises, interprets, processes, and simulates human feelings, emotions, and moods.

We have experimented on different projects across a variety of the sectors we work in. To trial the Sticky by Tobii Pro technology, we selected a new school library project. We chose this scheme because the pandemic brought conversations on children’s mental health and the impact of spaces on their learning to the forefront. For many children productivity fell when they had to study at home, with the inability of the spaces where they worked to stimulate concentration and motivation undoubtedly being a factor. We believed that if we could determine the type of spaces that do inspire concentration, joy and interest in children, our designs could then be adapted to make a considerable positive impact.

We trialled numerous options by amending a static image of a virtual space into a selection of varying designs which we used to test and measure responses. For example, we added more colour, enhanced light levels, introduced plants to increase biophilia, and included patterns and textures reminiscent of nature. We are currently analysing the results of this project in the context of the overall research programme.

If you are interested in how technology could be used in your schemes, or in learning more about our research into human emotional responses to design, please contact our Works Team at works@chetwoods.com.

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