Researchers explore how skyscrapers affect mental health

Researchers explore how skyscrapers affect mental health
Published: 7 August 2019 - 11:58 a.m.

A hydraulically-powered moving chamber designed to simulate the effects of working in super-tall buildings is being built by British researchers to study the impacts of working and living in skyscrapers.

A team from the University of Bath built the multimillion-dollar moving chamber to simulate the psychological and physiological impacts spending long periods of time in skyscrapers can have on us.

The $5.8m (AED21.m) machine is equipped with motion, climate, sound, air quality and visual controls, so researchers can measure how people respond to being inside a tall building for long periods.

This will help the team determine how living and working in skyscrapers affects wellbeing and productivity, providing data that will allow developers and designers to build more human-centric buildings that are better for our health and happiness.

Dr Antony Darby, head of civil engineering at the University of Bath, said: “Our understanding of living and working in tall buildings is extremely limited and, crucially, the acceptability of these environments depends on the context. So for example, we all expect a train to rock from side to side when it moves, but we don’t expect it of a building.

“One of the things we’ll be looking to investigate is Sopite Syndrome. This is the effect on the body of almost-unnoticeable movement that can cause tiredness – it’s the same response as the one we take advantage of when rocking a baby to sleep. Understanding what kind of movement is acceptable and the level at which negative responses occur will help us inform designers creating the next generation of tall buildings.”

The facility will officially open at the university in October.

It comes as researchers in the UK point to studies that tiredness, low mood, difficulty in concentrating and a lack of motivation can all result from being in a swaying building.

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