Theoretical and methodological challenges for cognitive research in the built environment

Christoph Hoelscher, Victor R Schinazi, Tyler Thrash, John Zacharias

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


[Extract] One significant feature of urbanisation in the twenty-first century is the increase in large, complex and densely populated city quarters. Airports, shopping precincts, sports venues and cultural facilities increasingly combine with generic function buildings such as hotels, housing, businesses and offices to produce horizontal and vertical nodes in a city. The capacity of such city quarters to bring large numbers of people into proximity produces crowds of unprecedented complexity. The manner in which such crowds ‘behave’ in space by aggregating, disaggregating, flowing or stalling generate new kinds of urban experience that can be thrilling, bewildering, stressful or even threatening. In
turn, this creates a set of complex challenges for architectural design and its apacity to understand human behaviour and crowd dynamics.
Many physical criteria for such measures as air quality, thermal comfort or the carbon footprint of a building have been developed to a mature level for the design and construction of dense city quarters. However, our understanding of how human needs and capabilities interact in such contexts is less well understood. Cognitive science and behavioural research can help develop the necessary theories and methods to inform this aspect of urban design. This is important as more and more urban designers, planners and policy makers recognise that sustainability is linked to human well-being and that both are necessarily at the centre of progressive city making efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFuture Cities Laboratory: Indicia 01
EditorsStephen Cairns, Devisari Tunas
PublisherLars Muller Publishers
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)3037785454, 978-3037785454
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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