This just in: Cognitive Architecture, 2nd edition, by Ann Sussman and Justin B. Hollander, is out!
The book reviews new findings in psychology and neuroscience to help architects and planners better understand their clients as the sophisticated mammals they are, arriving in the world with built-in responses to the environment. Discussing key biometric tools to help designers ‘see’ subliminal human behaviors and suggesting new ways to analyze designs before they are built, this new edition brings readers up-to-date on scientific tools relevant for assessing architecture and the human experience of place. The book includes 40 color images of eye-tracked architecture and delves further into psychology, revealing the role trauma, specifically PTSD, post-WWI, played in the development of the paradigm for 20th-century Modern Architecture.
The 2nd edition includes images which reveal how we take in a scene initially, showing how we are hard-wired to focus on detail and ignore blankness. It further discusses how these subliminal attachments contribute to feelings of connection or disconnection (anomie) in the built environment, implicitly supporting or degrading the public realm. Eye tracking creates heat maps which glow brightest where people look most, as in image below of a NYC library, showing people and areas of contrast grab us, but not the glassy façade despite its reflections.
A key take-away? Biometric studies can tell us a lot about how we look at buildings but even more about ourselves; we are a truly social species, designed for taking each other in. Eye tracking the cover of the 1st edition really brought that home; note where people looked most—the faces, the pre-eminent objects we need to see for survival!
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