The Landscape Guide

Landscape Design Theory RESOURCES: Design Objectives Ecology, Community, Delight, Archetypes, Design MethodsStructuralism & Design, Community Design, Single Tree Principle, Design with nature, Master Plans,

Environmental psychology and design

Environmental psychology examines the relationship between environments and human behavior, with 'environment' broadly interpreted to include the 'natural world', society, the built environment, and the informational environment.

Dealing with design issues which involve human-environment interactions requires a model of human nature. The model enables one to design, manage and conserve environments. Outcomes can be predicted and problems diagnosed. Environmental psychology is inherently multidisciplinary. It draws on theories of property management, wayfinding, restorative environments, information processing.

Why are some spaces comfortable? Why are other places threatening? How can environments be designed to reduce stress, create more efficiency, minimize accidents? West Chester University makes the following comment on the history of environmental psychology: ' Environmental Psychology started in 1950 with a campaign to improve mental hospitals. Architects in charge of building these hospitals where more concerned with the structure rather than human needs. They turned to psychologists for information on cognition and social and human behavior. This collaboration between architects and psychologists created a field called Architectural Psychology. Over the years, problems expanded beyond architectural situations to parks and landscapes, thus creating Environmental Psychology. Researchers began discovering the mismatches between humans and their environment. Psychologists began trying to solve these problems through improved design. A field that had started with investigating color and chair arrangements in mental hospitals moved to tracking visitors in national parks and studying the stresses associated with urban commuting.'

An important contribution to study of the subject was made by two environmental psychologists working with a landscape architect:

Rachel Kaplan, Stephen Kaplan, Robert L. Ryan With People in Mind: Design and Management for Everyday Nature Island Press; (March 1998)

See note on the use of archetypes in garden and landscape design.