The International Journal of the Constructed Environment offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Constructed Environment Research Network.
This paper reports the results of a preliminary investigation into whether indoor environments that evoke positive associations with the past, present, and future could be psychologically beneficial for building occupants. Subjects were asked to numerically evaluate a series of drawn images of rooms in which a range of visible temporal cues was independently varied. Initial results suggest that rooms that include sloping ceilings, perceptible variation, and views of other spaces are positively associated with feelings of nostalgia, engagement, and optimism respectively. The next stage of the work will be to repeat these experiments with a larger, more representative population in order to test whether there are any differences in responses to temporal cues associated with either culture or gender.
For most of us, time is not only more personally precious than space but it also permeates our daily lives. All of our decisions, actions, and feelings in the present moment are inextricably linked to our past experiences and future intentions. According to the EPA, most Americans now spend over 90% of their lives inside buildings. By making positive cues to the past, present and future available in everyday indoor environments, Kevin Nute and Job Chen believe that buildings could play an important role in helping people to make these temporal linkages, and with them, achieve a range of psychological benefits. Their work is aimed at determining whether specific visual cues that evoke positive recollections of the past, interactions with the present, and anticipations of the future can help people to feel more secure, alert, and optimistic in the indoor spaces where they spend the majority of their lives.
In addition to potentially transforming the quality of the indoor environments where most people live and work, Nute and Chen are also planning to test the visual cues identified as potential environmental treatments for the temporal deficiencies associated with three major cognitive illnesses:
1. difficulty recalling the past (dementia)
2. problems engaging with the present (attention deficit)
3. lack of positive anticipation of the future (depression)
The authors are also preparing a full-length book on their work, Building Time: Temporal Cues in Indoor Environments (Routledge, 2022).
— Kevin Nute and Zhuo Job Chen
James Thompson and Daniel E. Coslett, The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 8, Issue 2, 27–48
Caryn Brause, The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 7, Issue 1, 43–54