Report Synopsis

“We shape our buildings, and thereafter they shape us” – a study into how farm building aesthetics affects the user experience.

Currently researching for Scholarship

As farming has evolved, so have the buildings in which house our livestock.  Modern livestock housing is a very practical space, mostly designed by farmers and contractors according to a proven design formula, which has understandably evolved to suit primary goals of efficiency and productivity, in a market where profitability is increasingly challenging.

In many other sectors of construction, architects and other specialists are investigating how users of buildings are affected by the spaces in which they work and spend time.  This discipline is known as environmental psychology and it is clear that people are profoundly affected (both mentally and physically) by the buildings in which we spend time, hence the increasing interest in designing spaces that have a positive impact on users.

However, most of this research and expertise is being applied in the design of housing, offices, industrial workplaces, healthcare and education establishments, with very little involvement or thought about the design of farm livestock buildings. 

My study seeks to investigate knowledge and principles of environmental psychology, to understand what design elements are needed for a building to be a healthy and positive space for all users (farmers, animals, visitors) and then to apply this knowledge when considering the design of modern livestock buildings.  How essential is natural light?  Is there a difference psychologically between spending time in buildings constructed from steel and concrete compared with timber or other natural materials?  How might the feel of a space affect not only human well-being, but the human-animal relationship dynamic?  Do positive design elements conflict with aims of practicality and productivity?

I aim to travel throughout Europe and the USA, meeting pioneering architects, psychologists and neuroscientists, seeing some optimal examples of architecture and modern livestock housing.