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Research activity at Architecture explores a wide variety of significant research areas within architecture and the built environment. Among these is the better exploitation of innovative construction technologies and ICT to optimise 'total building performance', as well as reduce waste and environmental impact. Sustainable architectural and urban design is an important component of this. To this end, the Cluster for Research in Design and Sustainability (CRiDS) focuses its research energies towards developing resilient responses to the social, environmental and economic challenges associated with urbanism and cities, in both the developed and developing world.

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Linking space and nature syntaxes : the influence of a natural view through observed behaviour at Arcosanti, Arizona, USA

Grierson, David and Munro, Karen (2016) Linking space and nature syntaxes : the influence of a natural view through observed behaviour at Arcosanti, Arizona, USA. In: 3rd World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities, 2016-09-14 - 2016-09-16, Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT).

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The world’s urban population is rapidly growing, now exceeding its rural population, and is expected to reach 70 % of the world’s total by 2050. Research in environmental psychology increasingly supports the Biophilia Hypothesis which holds that our connection with Nature is innate. Thus, how do we maintain a human connection to Nature in an increasingly urbanising world? The research explores the boundary between built and natural environments, specifically how proximity, initially through visual connections, to Nature affects how people use social spaces. Case study work is being undertaken at Arcosanti urban laboratory in the Arizona desert. Through development of a Space/Nature Syntax methodology applied within a uniquely compact urban form, this research attempts to understand how maintaining an instinctive bond with Nature can enhance social interactions and inform future design choices within built environments. Initial results support relationships of varying strengths between spatial connectivity, visibility of Nature, and types of social interactions. This paper explores the potential of the cross-disciplinary Space/Nature Syntax methodology as a design and analysis tool, projecting where social interactions within a built space could be influenced by visibility of Nature; where informed design can allow for the essential human/Nature connection to thrive.