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The Shaping of Us: How Everyday Spaces Structure our Lives, Behaviour, and Well-Being

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The spaces we live in – whether public areas, housing, offices, hospitals, or cities – mediate community, creativity, and our very identity, making us who we are. Using insights from environmental psychology, design, and architecture, The Shaping of Us reveals the often imperceptible ways in which our surroundings influence our behaviour. Wide-ranging and global examples co The spaces we live in – whether public areas, housing, offices, hospitals, or cities – mediate community, creativity, and our very identity, making us who we are. Using insights from environmental psychology, design, and architecture, The Shaping of Us reveals the often imperceptible ways in which our surroundings influence our behaviour. Wide-ranging and global examples cover the differences between personalities and nationalities, explore grass-roots and mainstream efforts to build environments promoting well-being, and look ahead to what will become of us if we don’t listen closely to what we know is good for us. You will learn whether you are a natural ‘prospector’ or ‘refuger’ in the office environment, what roundabouts and stoplights say about British and American culture, whether you are guilty of NIMBYism or being drawn to ‘ruin porn’, and how the half-house may be a common sight in the near future. The environments we inhabit define our identities – from the earliest moments of our evolution to the worlds we build around ourselves.


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The spaces we live in – whether public areas, housing, offices, hospitals, or cities – mediate community, creativity, and our very identity, making us who we are. Using insights from environmental psychology, design, and architecture, The Shaping of Us reveals the often imperceptible ways in which our surroundings influence our behaviour. Wide-ranging and global examples co The spaces we live in – whether public areas, housing, offices, hospitals, or cities – mediate community, creativity, and our very identity, making us who we are. Using insights from environmental psychology, design, and architecture, The Shaping of Us reveals the often imperceptible ways in which our surroundings influence our behaviour. Wide-ranging and global examples cover the differences between personalities and nationalities, explore grass-roots and mainstream efforts to build environments promoting well-being, and look ahead to what will become of us if we don’t listen closely to what we know is good for us. You will learn whether you are a natural ‘prospector’ or ‘refuger’ in the office environment, what roundabouts and stoplights say about British and American culture, whether you are guilty of NIMBYism or being drawn to ‘ruin porn’, and how the half-house may be a common sight in the near future. The environments we inhabit define our identities – from the earliest moments of our evolution to the worlds we build around ourselves.

30 review for The Shaping of Us: How Everyday Spaces Structure our Lives, Behaviour, and Well-Being

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    First a disclaimer: the author is the daughter of my best friend when I was growing up. I am the person who lived on the third floor and was either Jim or Bob which presently is a point of some disagreement between us. There is an unfortunate dearth of written records concerning our adventures around and about the badlands of New York City outside our building to resolve this issue although a recent foray into oral histories available to me (my brother) supports my version of events. The author i First a disclaimer: the author is the daughter of my best friend when I was growing up. I am the person who lived on the third floor and was either Jim or Bob which presently is a point of some disagreement between us. There is an unfortunate dearth of written records concerning our adventures around and about the badlands of New York City outside our building to resolve this issue although a recent foray into oral histories available to me (my brother) supports my version of events. The author is clearly passionate about her subject and her knowledge and enthusiasm are infectious. At many points in the narrative I found myself nodding and saying to myself- oh, so that is why I liked/felt uncomfortable in that place. She has a disarming way of bringing large issues into focus by personalising them in a way which makes them understandable to the lay reader. I spent may years trying to understand why economic theory just did not seem to me to make sense. Then I read Daniel Kahneman. We all know that the Projects in New York and other big cities were a disaster. This book provides the language tools we need to talk about why and hopefully to figure out how to do better. Because we need to and we need to have started yesterday. My adopted homeland of New Zealand faces a housing crises and the planners and politicians just want to build more of the same. We all have a big stake in the outcome and we owe it to ourselves to try to understand how we got here and what tools do we have to find a way out. Ms Bernheimer’s book provides insights and explanations that are an important place to start. I must admit to some skepticism about her vision for the future - or more accurately the likelihood of its coming to pass - but I am comforted by the thought that there are people like Lily Bernheimer thinking and working on the issues.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carol Tilley

    4 1/2 - an important, accessible book about space, design, behavior, community, and wholeness.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Charty

    An inspiring and timely book looking at how humans evolved in a natural world that shapes many of our behaviors even today, and how we build new structures and environments that we interact with, and then in turn, shaped by those same structures. In general I’d say this is a fairly accessible read but there is plenty of references to show and support the narrative of the writer. The beginning chapters start out with people at people scale and subsequent chapters branch out into larger spaces and An inspiring and timely book looking at how humans evolved in a natural world that shapes many of our behaviors even today, and how we build new structures and environments that we interact with, and then in turn, shaped by those same structures. In general I’d say this is a fairly accessible read but there is plenty of references to show and support the narrative of the writer. The beginning chapters start out with people at people scale and subsequent chapters branch out into larger spaces and groups, before the concluding chapters bring home what people are doing with all theses findings from architects, environmental psychologists, economists, etc. and some surprising projects are showcased. If you live in any community that is dealing with urban blight, housing crises (too little, too expensive) urban density to even how you arrange your office and build out a home, this book has excellent points to consider on those fronts. Highly recommended!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I was intrigued by the premise of the book and the author supports that well in her introduction. Unfortunately, she uses what could be a good book about environmental psychology to push her own political views and denigrates the office of the President of the United States of America out of context in the first chapter. I can tolerate one or two political statements, but she continues to force her political agenda, concluding with a statement (still only in the first chapter) about how "we don' I was intrigued by the premise of the book and the author supports that well in her introduction. Unfortunately, she uses what could be a good book about environmental psychology to push her own political views and denigrates the office of the President of the United States of America out of context in the first chapter. I can tolerate one or two political statements, but she continues to force her political agenda, concluding with a statement (still only in the first chapter) about how "we don't always have a good sense of what is good for us." This author taints her book with her politics and subsequently lessens the value of her message. Her credibility is basically destroyed with her obvious pandering to her own kind. Too bad. I had considered purchasing several of these books for relatives involved in urban development but have decided against it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Wendi

    I took this book with the initial thinking that is was more about interior space, but I finish it with a bigger understanding of the bigger environment. I am born in a country of high-rise buildings, therefore much of the risks mentioned in this book is not as relatable, but it’s an eye-opener for me to realise how impactful it is in the big shift from country to urban/suburban life. It is also interesting to learn where we derives our aesthetics from and how it applies to our current appreciatio I took this book with the initial thinking that is was more about interior space, but I finish it with a bigger understanding of the bigger environment. I am born in a country of high-rise buildings, therefore much of the risks mentioned in this book is not as relatable, but it’s an eye-opener for me to realise how impactful it is in the big shift from country to urban/suburban life. It is also interesting to learn where we derives our aesthetics from and how it applies to our current appreciation of the environment, which I believe most of us took for granted.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    Very much enjoyed this book (the chapter on fractals, particularly so). Sometimes it felt a bit too broad, but it's chock full of fascinating research and insight that compels one to think about where and how we live in a more nuanced way. Very much enjoyed this book (the chapter on fractals, particularly so). Sometimes it felt a bit too broad, but it's chock full of fascinating research and insight that compels one to think about where and how we live in a more nuanced way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nils

    Sehr viele Anekdoten, die über die Kapitel hinweg nur lose zusammenhängen. Der große argumentative Bogen des Buch geht daher ein wenig unter. Die einzelnen Ideen und Gedanken zum Zusammenhang zwischen den Räumen, in denen wir leben, und unserem Handeln sind aber sehr bedenkenwert.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    An interesting discourse on the role our environment plays in making us who we are.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura Mark

  11. 5 out of 5

    Clare Russell

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sean Smith

  13. 4 out of 5

    Isabela

  14. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carsen Gentes

  16. 5 out of 5

    Claire Walker

  17. 4 out of 5

    Criselda

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Matherly

  19. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Whelan

  22. 4 out of 5

    E

  23. 5 out of 5

    Soujanya Krishnaprasad

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alia Almaz

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nurulitha Susetyo

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gardenhead

  27. 4 out of 5

    Phoebe

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stacey Cournoyer

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul

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