MyRoom: A user-centred model of affective responsive architecture

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Dalton, Cathy
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University College Cork
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Can my immediate physical environment affect how I feel? The instinctive answer to this question must be a resounding “yes”. What might seem a throwaway remark is increasingly borne out by research in environmental and behavioural psychology, and in the more recent discipline of Evidence-Based Design. Research outcomes are beginning to converge with findings in neuroscience and neurophysiology, as we discover more about how the human brain and body functions, and reacts to environmental stimuli. What we see, hear, touch, and sense affects each of us psychologically and, by extension, physically, on a continual basis. The physical characteristics of our daily environment thus have the capacity to profoundly affect all aspects of our functioning, from biological systems to cognitive ability. This has long been understood on an intuitive basis, and utilised on a more conscious basis by architects and other designers. Recent research in evidence-based design, coupled with advances in neurophysiology, confirm what have been previously held as commonalities, but also illuminate an almost frightening potential to do enormous good, or alternatively, terrible harm, by virtue of how we make our everyday surroundings. The thesis adopts a design methodology in its approach to exploring the potential use of wireless sensor networks in environments for elderly people. Vitruvian principles of “commodity, firmness and delight” inform the research process and become embedded in the final design proposals and research conclusions. The issue of person-environment fit becomes a key principle in describing a model of continuously-evolving responsive architecture which makes the individual user its focus, with the intention of promoting wellbeing. The key research questions are: What are the key system characteristics of an adaptive therapeutic single-room environment? How can embedded technologies be utilised to maximise the adaptive and therapeutic aspects of the personal life-space of an elderly person with dementia?.
Therapeutic environments , Affective computing , Responsive architecture , Dementia
Dalton, C. A. 2014. MyRoom: A user-centred model of affective responsive architecture. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.