‘PLOT perception’ is a student-initiated explorative research on how we perceive our urban environments. The goal is to explicate human perceptions in the built environment by combining methods and techniques from the field of urban design, environmental psychology, user experience (UX), and neurophysiology. By integrating eye-tracking and electroencephalography (EEG) with conventional methods in the field of urban design research, we hope to achieve an objective basis in how we perceive our urban environments.

The research aims to [1] explore how the human body and mind react in / interact with different basic urban design principles; [2] define which spatial elements are crucial in the perception and appraisal of different urban spaces; [3] clarify differences in the perception of space within different target groups (e.g. children, elderly, familiar/unfamiliar with the area); [4] examine to what extent societal activities are part of the perception of physical space; and finally [5] give the urban designer a better understanding of how and why certain design principles work or do not work.

This way, we can centralize human perception in our future urban design tasks that will involve uncertain concepts such as: design with renewable energy landscapes, spatial design with the Internet of Things, architectural design with high-speed infrastructure such as Hyperloop stations etc.

We are at the tipping point towards a new paradigm shift. Whether it is in energy, transportation, production, or even politics, this transition will lead to novel questions in how to plan and design sustainable environments. In order to avoid the same urban design mistakes as we did in the turmoil towards modernism and massive (auto)mobility, we have to let go of the (Cartesian) dualist approach of mind and matter, and look for ways to integrate the two “domains of reality” of physical space and human mind in urban design for better, healthier, sustainable, and future-proof living-environments.

Deniz Sükür