Tom Dyckhoff, presenter of the Secret Life of Buildings on Channel 4
Exeter academic to feature in new Channel 4 series
University academic Craig Knight will be discussing some of his latest research in a new, three part Channel 4 series called The Secret Life of Buildings.
Knight features in the second of the three programmes, which focuses on the design of work space, which is scheduled to be broadcast on Monday August 8 at 8pm.
Presented by Tom Dyckhoff, the series explores how architecture can change the way people feel and behave; it uncovers the secret ways that buildings profoundly affect our behaviour, feelings and identity. The first episode of the show attracted 1.1 million viewers and has had some outstanding reviews in the press.
In his contribution to the programme, Craig extends his previous research into the psychology of space, in this case work space, by conducting an experiment based in the flagship London offices of Deloitte, the professional services firm. Craig explains: “There has been a trend recently to pare down the office environment, creating very minimalistic internal spaces and making it free of so-called ‘distractions’. This was supposed to lead to improvements in productivity as the employee was less likely to be sidetracked away from the task in hand. Psychological evidence suggests that, in fact, the reverse is true. Our experiment involved measuring the productivity of groups working in this ‘lean’ environment with those into which plants were introduced and, going a stage further, those who were able to completely personalise their space.”
Whilst the results are yet to be finalised, interim figures suggest that productivity improvements of 15 percent are achievable through relatively simple and cost effective changes. Alex Haslam, Knight’s colleague in much of this research remarks: “Our research demonstrates that people not only work more efficiently but experience higher levels of well-being when they have some control over their work environment, rather than having ‘good’ design imposed upon them. Good architecture is about identity realisation not identity suppression.”
The research forms part of a wider project, funded by the Dutch Flower Council, and conducted jointly with Ambius, the largest provider of rental plants in the world. Knight was also involved with Alex Haslam, Catherine Haslam and Ambius in studies that were featured on BBC1 last year which looked at the impact of involvement in design on the health and well-being of elderly care home residents.
The first episode can be viewed on the 4oD website.
Craig Knight completed his PhD in the School of Psychology here at the University of Exeter. He is currently Director of Prism, a joint venture specialising in the psychology of space, based on the Streatham campus.
Date: 5 August 2011