The Atmosphere in Open Public Spaces

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Introduction:A space’s atmosphere is an important factor in how that space is experienced. In fact, festival visitors consider the atmosphere as the most important factor in how they experience a festival (Van Vliet 2012). Atmosphere is also what distinguishes physical shops from online web shops (Van Vliet, Moes & Schrandt 2015). Much research underlines the influence of atmosphere on cognitive and emotional processes. As early as 1956, research showed that an assessment of facial expressions in photographs depended on the atmosphere of the space in which the photos were viewed (Maslow & Mintz 1956). The importance of atmosphere inspired the search for ways to influence visitors and allowing them to react to, and even (co-)design, a space’s atmosphere – from museum spaces (Noordegraaf 2012) to urban spaces, from consciously-manipulated spaces to the now inevitable layer of digital information that has entered the public sphere (Mitchell 2005). Researchers have been studying the influence of atmosphere for decades, particularly through the lens of environmental psychology, which focuses on the interplay between humans and their environment (Mehrabian & Russell 1974; Steg, Van den Berg & De Groot 2012). A milestone in atmosphere research was the introduction of the concept of ‘atmospherics’ by Kotler (1973). From here, research into atmosphere mainly took place in the context of marketing research into consumer behaviour in shops and service environments such as restaurants, hotels, museums and festivals (Van Vliet 2014). The question here is whether these gathered insights contribute to understanding how atmosphere works in open public spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResponsive public spaces
Subtitle of host publicationExploring the use of interactive technology in the design of public spaces
EditorsFrank Suurenbroek, Ivan Nio, Martijn de Waal
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherUrban Technology research programme / Faculty of Technology, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9789492644121
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Publication series

NameAmsterdam University of Applied Sciences Faculty of Technology publication series

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