Acres of crushed stone : the search for well-being in the built environment at MIT
Author(s)Sutherland-Brown, Hillary Alexandra M
Search for well-being in the built environment at MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Happiness research is on the rise. Everyone from economists to psychologists to United Nations policy makers to the country of Bhutan is investigating how happiness, herein defined as a sense of well-being, might be used as a more meaningful metric to judge collective quality of life. The majority of this new research has been confined to the national or global sphere; despite the work of a few, urban areas and public spaces have largely been omitted from happiness study. This thesis aims to bridge that disconnect and to examine well-being at the small, familiar scale of MIT, asking the question: How does the physical environment of MIT affect happiness? To answer this question, using environmental psychology research, I operationalized well-being in the built environment in three ways: as stemming from 1) personal control (the power to customize), 2) social support (different kinds of spaces to foster different kinds of social interaction), and 3) restoration (recovery from mental fatigue through proximity to natural elements). I also interviewed over 10 experts in the fields of planning, design, and mental health, and almost 40 students and staff at MIT (whom I call 'users of space'). The data from those interviews formed the basis of narration in a film - an hour-long walk through campus (filmed in a single shot), wherein I explored - as one can only do through video - how it really feels to be in these spaces and how they might be improved. The final result revealed an eclectic campus, seemingly planned with little thought towards the whole, and a student and staff population thrilled with their intellectual environment, but lacking the light, greenery, and collaborative spaces to be healthy in their physical one.
Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2016."February 2016." Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 57-61).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.