Do you want to join the uprising? Click here to see a list of all groups around the world
Traditional architecture has been found to contribute more to people’s well-being than modernist glass and steel buildings, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Oslo. Using virtual reality (VR) technology, the team examined people’s experiences and feelings in various streets and public squares in Oslo, comparing those surrounded by traditional architecture to those characterized by modernist designs.
Where do you prefer spending time in the city – amidst the charm of traditional 1920s architecture or in modernist urban spaces? Researchers from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) used VR technology to explore people’s experiences and sentiments regarding various streets and public squares in Oslo.
“Do the locals truly appreciate prevailing style and design trends? This is one of the aspects we aimed to uncover in this study,” notes NMBU researcher Kostas Mouratidis.
Beautiful Buildings Make Us Happy
The connection between beautiful surroundings and enhanced well-being is well-established among researchers. In cities, the design of places influences our sense of well-being beyond just greenery.
According to the the study, the visual aesthetics of the constructed environment play a crucial role in shaping emotional responses, psychological well-being, and ultimately, happiness and life satisfaction. Given that individuals regularly interact with their immediate surroundings in their daily lives, the emotional reactions to the visual aspects of the built environment stand out as significant responses influenced by this setting. Mouratidis suggests:
“Politicians, city planners, real estate developers, and architects should have more insight into how design and people’s well-being are linked. Our results emphasize this link, as positive feelings about our surroundings are connected to a higher level of life quality.”
Read more about how architecture influences our well-being here.
People Prefer Traditional Environments
The study compared eight public streets and squares in Oslo, half characterized by traditional architecture and the other half following modernist architecture. Modernism refers to architecture marked by minimalism, asymmetry, and minimal ornamentation. A design trend that has dominated new buildings since the 1930s.
The findings underscored a significant preference for places with traditional architecture over contemporary urban spaces. Bankplassen, a traditional square, received the highest score, while the modernist part of Toftes street in the popular Grünerløkka district ranked last. Participants provided feedback on various aspects, including their first impressions, ranking their feelings on different scales from pleasant to unpleasant, exciting to boring, relaxing to stressful, safe to unsafe, interesting to uninteresting, and active to inactive.
Architectural Harmony: Oslo’s Lessons for Tomorrow
In Oslo’s pursuit of urban happiness, traditional architecture emerges victorious, offering valuable lessons for future city planning. The study, facilitated by VR technology, underscores the crucial link between aesthetics and well-being.
This study stands as a testament to the power of design in shaping our daily experiences. As we envision tomorrow’s cityscapes, Oslo’s journey reminds us that, amidst the concrete and steel, the echo of tradition carries a profound melody — the melody of a city in harmony with the well-being of its people.