Urban Experience and Design

Urban Experience and Design

Embracing a biological and evolutionary perspective to explain the human experience of place, Urban Experience and Design explores how cognitive science and biometric tools provide an evidence-based foundation for architecture and planning. Aiming to promote the creation of a healthier and happier public realm, this book describes how unconscious responses to stimuli, outside our conscious awareness, direct our experience of the built environment and govern human behavior in our surroundings.

This collection contains 15 chapters, including contributions from researchers in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, France and Iran. Addressing topics such as the impact of eye-tracking analysis and seeing beauty and empathy within buildings, Urban Experience and Design encourages us to reframe our understanding of design, including the narrative of how modern architecture and planning came to be in the first place.   

This volume invites students, academics and scholars to see how cognitive science and biometric findings give us remarkable 21st-century metrics for evaluating and improving designs, even before they are built.


Introduction: The 21st-Century Paradigm Shift in Architecture and Planning 

Justin B. Hollander and Ann Sussman

Section 1: Historical and Theoretical Foundations of Architecture and Planning

1 Sense of Place: Looking Backward to Go Forward? 
Robert S. Tullis

2 Classic Planning: The Power of Beauty for Human Architecture and Planning 
Nir Buras

3 Bonding with Beauty: The Connection Between Facial Patterns, Design and Our Well-Being 
Donald H. Ruggles and John Boak

4 Neuroscience Experiments to Verify the Geometry of Healing Environments: Proposing a Biophilic Healing Index of Design and Architecture
Nikos A. Salingaros

Section 2: Twenty-First-Century Tools: Biometrics and Measuring the Human Experience of Place

5 Identifying Biophilic Design Elements in Streetscapes: A Study of Visual Attention and Sense of Place 
Peter Milliken, Justin B. Hollander, Ann Sussman and Minyu Situ

6 Exploring Eye-Tracking Technology: Assessing How the Design of Densified Built Environments Can Promote Inhabitants’ Well-Being Frank Suurenbroek and Gideon Spanjar

7 Attention and Focus in the Perception of Persian Architecture 
Saeid Khaghani, Jamal Esmaeilzadeh Vafaei and Seyed Behnamedin Jameie

Section 3 Explorations of the New Paradigm for Urban Experience and Design

8 Cognitive Mapping, Mobility Technologies and the Decoupling of Imageability and Accessibility Andrew Mondschein

9 Emerging Transport Futures for Streets and How Eye Tracking Can Help Improve Safety and Design Kevin J. Krizek, Bert Otten and Federico Rupi

10 Ecoempathetic Design: Moving Beyond Biophilia With Brain Science 
Misha Semenov

11 Exploring Urban Form Through OpenStreetMap Data: A Visual Introduction 
Geoff Boeing

12 A Device-Free Mapping Approach for Quantifying User Activities in Indoor Environments 
Krister Jens

13 Being Seen, Feeling Heard: Designing Intimate-Scaled Spaces on Urban College Campuses 
Verna DeLauer

Conclusion: Understanding Ourselves Better Reframes Architecture and Planning 
Ann Sussman and Justin B. Hollander


Justin B. Hollander is a professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning and director of the C.A.G.S in Urban Justice and Sustainability at Tufts University. His research and teaching is in the areas of physical planning, big data, shrinking cities and the intersection between cognitive science and the design of cities. He is the author of seven other books on urban planning and design, including Cognitive Architecture: Designing for How We Respond to the Built Environment (with Ann Sussman) and Urban Social Listening: Potential and Pitfalls for Using Microblogging Data in Studying Cities, and was recently inducted as a fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He hosts the Apple podcast ‘Cognitive Urbanism.’

Ann Sussman is a registered architect, researcher and college instructor. Her book, Cognitive Architecture: Designing for How We Respond to the Built Environment (Routledge, 2015), coauthored with Justin B. Hollander, won the Place Research Award from the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) in 2016. She currently teaches a new course on perception and the human experience of place, ‘Architecture and Cognition,’ at the Boston Architectural College (BAC). In 2020, she founded and became president of the nonprofit The Human Architecture + Planning Institute, Inc. (theHapi.org).