Comparing properties of interiors and perceptions of comfort: Results of an empirical study

  • YEAR
    Dosen, Annemarie S.
    Ostwald, Michael
    2016 Conference Papers
    Architectural Science and Design Assessments
    Conference Papers


Past research into environmental psychology has identified openness, enclosure, light, mystery and complexity as the key criteria shaping perceptions of psychological comfort. It has been suggested that these properties are responsible for evoking positive aesthetic responses to an environment and they have also been repeatedly linked to the works of renowned architects including Alvar Aalto, Glenn Murcutt and Peter Zumthor. However, the precise spatial and visual properties that allegedly evoke feelings of comfort have never been adequately identified, in part because previous research has involved multiple confounding factors or has lacked a controlled testing environment. The present paper responds to this situation by presenting the results of an empirical study involving 159 participants with diverse backgrounds who rated 24 carefully graduated images of virtual interiors for their feelings of comfort. The findings indicate a very high, positive correlation between an increasing degree of openness and perceptions of comfort. Furthermore, a comparison of perceptual responses with actual geometric room measures identifies several that correlate closely with feelings of comfort.


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