Menu Close

Book review: The Shaping of Us

The Shaping of Us: How Everyday Spaces Structure Our Lives, Behavior, and Well-Being
Lily Bernheimer
Trinity University Press, August 2019

Hardcover | 6 x 9 inches | 336 pages | 37 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-1595348722 | $26.95

Publisher Description:

The spaces we inhabit– from homes and workspaces to city streets—mediate community, creativity, and our very identity. Using insights from environmental psychology, design, and architecture, The Shaping of Us shows how the built and natural worlds subtly influence our behavior, health, and personality. Exploring ideas such as “ruin porn” and “ninja-proof seating,” mysteries of how we interact with the physical spaces around us are revealed. From caves and cathedrals to our current housing crisis and the dreaded open-plan office, Lily Bernheimer demonstrates that, for our well-being, we must reconnect with the power to shape our spaces.

Have you ever wondered why we adorn our doorframes with moldings? What does Wikipedia’s open-source technology have to teach us about the history and future of urban housing? What does your desk say about your personality? From savannahs and skyscrapers to co-working spaces, The Shaping of Us shows that the built environment supports our well-being best when it echoes our natural habitats in some way. In attempting to restore this natural quality to human environments, we often look to other species for inspiration. The real secret to building for well-being, Bernheimer argues, is to reconnect humans with the power to shape our surroundings. When people are involved in forming and nurturing their environments, they feel a greater sense of agency, community, and pride, or “collective efficacy.” And when communities have high rates of collective efficacy, they tend to have less litter, vandalism, and violent crime.

dDAB Commentary:

A couple years ago, when I reviewed Sarah Williams Goldhagen’s excellent Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives, I mentioned the strong environment-behavior studies at Kansas State University, where I got my Bachelor of Architecture degree in the 1990s. I’m bringing that time up once again because Lily Bernheimer’s The Shaping of Us treads some of the same ground as Goldhagen’s 2017 book (Bernheimer’s book actually came out the same year, but in the UK only) as well as the areas of my undergraduate education. Bernheimer is an environmental psychology consultant, and she must be one of the few — if not the only one!

Read on >>> Source: Archidose

Related Posts