Researching subjective wellbeing in an (interior)architectural context: Apparent, less apparent and illusionary differences between two fields of expertise
AbstractOne could state that the aim of wellbeing has long been implicitly present in architecture and interior architecture but is now emerging, maybe not yet as an explicit design approach but at least as an explicit goal of research within these domains. Generating knowledge on ways in which the built environment can contribute to the subjective wellbeing of its residents, however, entails the merging of expertise from fields that are quite distinct. Although researching the possible interactions of the physical environment (architecture and interior architecture) and more subjective, human-related aspects (social and behavioural sciences) is of course hardly a novel paradigm in itself, the practical, methodological and epistemological properties commonly associated with these two fields can be very different and the new research domain of “designing for subjective wellbeing” tends to push these differences to their extremes. In this contribution, I provide a personal account, from the perspective of a researcher in (interior) architecture with a background in psychology, of what I consider apparent, less apparent but sometimes also illusionary differences between these two fields of expertise and how these impact our ongoing process to establish and develop a research program on ‘Designing for More’.
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