The Shaping of Us: How Everyday Spaces Structure Our Lives, Behavior, and Well-Being

Lily Bernheimer. Trinity Univ., $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59534-872-2
Environmental psychologist Bernheimer provides a fascinating introduction to her field in this far-reaching look at how the spaces in which humans live, work, and play affect their behavior. Avoiding jargon, Bernheimer opens with a simple simile—“Space is like a secret script directing our actions”—and proceeds to give countless examples to buttress that position. After recounting Winston Churchill’s desire to rebuild the old House of Commons exactly after it was destroyed by the Luftwaffe, she explains how the placement of its seats facilitates the “characteristically rambunctious nature of British parliamentary debate.” A real-life experiment from Holland shows how residential streets can be designed to serve the interests of residents, rather than motorists. The Broken Windows theory of policing comes under fire for being too simplistic, as Bernheimer cites studies to show the other factors which shape crime rates, such as “the level of trust, cohesion, and informal social control in an area.” At the conclusion, Bernheimer challenges her audience to “rewrite the secret scripts of [their] lives” by becoming active participants in design decisions. Readers will finish this feeling better educated about the role of design and more alert to its impact on everyone’s lives. (June)
Reviewed on : 07/08/2019
Release date: 06/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-59534-924-8
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