This new tool can help us understand how people respond to urban spaces before they're built.
When the University of Waterloo in Ontario opened the Research Laboratory for Immersive Virtual Environments in 2006, there was a lot that could be studied about simulated cities that couldn't be observed in real ones.
Technology has since made it easier to make such measurements in people moving through actual cities, but the virtual lab still offers them a critical advantage: control over all the variables in a complex urban environment. The psychologists at RELIVE wield that power to understand just how people respond to cities — which in turn might help planners design better ones.
"Rather than looking at what happens to people in urban settings after they're built, you can propose different kinds of designs and explore their effects on people's behavior before they happen," says lab director Colin Ellard. "We see it as potentially a fantastic toolkit for asking questions about what does or doesn't work in planning."
Via Lauren Moss