A Conference Reexamining Behavioral and Cultural Research in
College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, U.S.A.
April 29–May 1, 2011
Ever since William Whyte observed New Yorkers taking lunch breaks in
urban plazas and Amos Rapoport demonstrated the role of social and
cultural factors in shaping traditional houses, research on the
two-way relationship between people and the environment has been part
of the field of environmental design, including architecture,
landscape architecture, and planning. This interest in the social
quality of space has been taken up by many different researchers, from
New Urbanists to sociologists such as Elizabeth Shove and Simon Guy.
Meanwhile, theoretical and methodological developments in our field,
such as Clare Cooper Marcus’s study on Easter Hill Village or
Christopher Alexander’s pattern language, set grounds for our own and
other disciplines, respectively. Throughout the last 40 years,
psychologists, behaviorists, sociologists, anthropologists, and
historians, among others, have contributed to a body of knowledge
applicable to design at many scales through a broad spectrum of
methodological and theoretical orientations.
Given the variety and the dynamism within this field, this conference
aims to start a dialogue about the present and future of social
research in environmental design. From its early days, where there was
an alignment with behavioral determinism, to more recent approaches
such as anthropological studies of space, social factors has been a
diverse — and divisive — topic. Even though “the social” is still a
major concern in environmental design research today, methods have
shifted in response to the adoption of participatory design and the
influence of post-modern and post-structuralist modes of inquiry.
Moreover, other fields also have staked a claim to the analysis of
social issues related to space. In this conference, we ask how
contemporary research addresses the idea of “the social” in space, not
only from those in our field, but also from those in emerging fields
of research, to understand how we might address critiques such as the
disconnect with design practice and our use of social science methods.
Thus, we aim to connect researchers across dispersed fields, and to
provide a platform for working together to define a common set of
interests, research questions, and set a new direction for our field.
In short, we seek the rebirth and redefinition of social factors.
More details at http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/events/conf/deathandlife