The Interaction Between the Physical Environment and People



Buildings affect people in various ways. They can help us to work more effectively; they also present a wide range of stimuli for our senses to react to. Intelligent buildings are designed to be aesthetic in sensory terms not just visually appealing but ones in which occupants experience delight, freshness, airiness, daylight, views out and social ambience. All these factors contribute to a general aesthetic which gives pleasure and affects one’s mood. If there is to be a common vision, it is essential for architects, engineers and clients to work closely together throughout the planning, design, construction and operational stages which represent the conception, birth and life of the building. There has to be an understanding of how patterns of work are best suited to a particular building form served by appropriate environmental systems. A host of technologies are emerging that help these processes, but in the end it is how we think about achieving responsive buildings that matters. Intelligent buildings should cope with social and technological changes and also be adaptable to short-term and long-term human needs. We live through our senses. They rely on stimulation from the tasks we are focused on; people around us but also the physical environment. We breathe air and its quality affects the olfactory system; temperature is felt by thermoreceptors in the skin; sound enters our ears; the visual scene is beheld by our eyes. All these stimuli are transmitted along the sensory nervous system to the brain for processing from which physiological and psychological reactions and judgments are formed depending on perception, expectancies and past experiences. It is clear that the environmental setting plays a role in this sensory process. This is the essence of sensory design. Space plays its part as well. The flow of communication is partly electronic but also largely by people meeting face to face. Our sense of space wants different things at different times. Sometimes privacy but other times social needs have to be satisfied besides the organizational requirement to have effective human communications throughout the building. In general if the senses are satisfied people feel better and work better.


Positive Mood Staff Cost Sick Building Syndrome Seasonal Affective Disorder Infectious Disease Transmission 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Construction Management and Engineering, University of ReadingReadingUK

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