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The built environment and its patterns – a view from the vision sciences

Wilkins, Arnold and Penacchio, Olivier and Leonards, Ute (2018) 'The built environment and its patterns – a view from the vision sciences.' Journal of Sustainable Design and Applied Research, 6 (1). ISSN 2009-549X

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Visual patterns are all around us. Despite overwhelming evidence from the visual sciences that some visual patterns, in particular highly geometric and repetitive patterns, can be aversive, patterns in our visual environment are rarely considered with regard to their impact on brain, behaviour, and well-being. Yet, attempts toward developing healthier, more inclusive cities recently attracted negative headlines, for example for their use of dazzling floor patterns in public spaces that lead to discomfort, avoidance behaviours and falls, particularly in older citizens. Recent developments in analysis now allow us to measure and predict adverse effects of patterns in the real world. Here, we show that aversive patterns are rare in natural scenes but prevalent in modern man-made settings. They occur at every spatial scale, partly because of modular construction, partly because of artistic expression. We review the evidence that visual discomfort and other adverse neurological and behavioural effects arise from aversive patterns, and hypothesise that this is because of the way our visual system has evolved to analyse scenes from nature. We finish our review with an outlook for future research and by proposing some simple ways of preventing adverse effects from visual environments, using urban design as example.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: visual patterns, visual discomfort, migraine, health, urban environment, design, architecture
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2018 15:55
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2020 17:15

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