General recommendations for design


  • Organise your facade in a clear, readable way, so people can make sense of how load bearing features connect to each other
  • Apply some form of ornament to connect separate parts of the building and to offer the fractal & symmetrical qualities people subconsciously connect to
  • Prevent the creation of large blank walls or glass facades at eye level. Glass is hard to ‘read’ – people can’t focus their eyes well on it as it is partly reflective, partly translucent.
  • Apply (local) symmetry in your design. The building can be asymmetrical if building volumes on both sides of a central axis are ‘balanced’
  • Richly detail the facade if possible, with details on various levels of scale, or utilise materials with some pattern to offer fractal qualities in the surface
  • Build according to local preferences, history, culture – study the ‘Genius Loci’.
  • Use curves in your design wherever possible


  • Utilise street trees wherever possible
  • Apply ‘gentle density’: “In contrast to high density, which includes mid- and high-rise residential buildings, gentle density refers to development of duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), stacked townhouses, semi-detached homes and small-scale apartment and condominium buildings within and among single-family zoned neighborhoods. Gentle density promotes mixed-use development, with single-family homes alongside small multi-family homes, businesses and commercial buildings. Gentle density aims to retain neighborhoods’ residential identity and feel while alleviating housing crises.”


More information can be found on the excellent website of CreateStreets:



Boys-Smith, N. (2016). Heart in the Right Street: Beauty. Happiness and Health in Designing the Modern City.

David Halpern, Mental Health and The Built Environment: More Than Bricks And Mortar?

Mehaffy, M., & Salingaros, N. A. (2017). Design for a living planet: Settlement, science, & the human future. Sustasis Press.

Mehrabian, A. (1976). Public places and private spaces: The psychology of work, play, and living environments. Basic Books.

Pollio, V. (1914). Vitruvius, the ten books on architecture. Harvard university press.

Salingaros, N. A., & Mehaffy, M. W. (2006). A theory of architecture. Umbau-Verlag Harald Püschel.

Scruton, R. (2011). Beauty: A very short introduction (Vol. 262). Oxford University Press.

Shannon, S. (2014). A survey of the public: Preference for old and new buildings, attitudes about historic preservation, and preservation-related engagement. University of Southern California.

Sitte, C. (1979). The art of building cities: city building according to its artistic fundamentals. Ravenio Books.

Sussman, A., & Hollander, J. B. (2021). Cognitive architecture: Designing for how we respond to the built environment. Routledge.




Bar, M., & Neta, M. (2007). Visual elements of subjective preference modulate amygdala activation. Neuropsychologia45(10), 2191-2200.

Brielmann, A. A., Buras, N. H., Salingaros, N. A., & Taylor, R. P. (2022). What Happens in Your Brain When You Walk Down the Street? Implications of Architectural Proportions, Biophilia, and Fractal Geometry for Urban Science. Urban Science6(1), 3.

Cameron, R. W., Blanuša, T., Taylor, J. E., Salisbury, A., Halstead, A. J., Henricot, B., & Thompson, K. (2012). The domestic garden–Its contribution to urban green infrastructure. Urban forestry & urban greening11(2), 129-137.

Chatterjee, A., Coburn, A., & Weinberger, A. (2021). The neuroaesthetics of architectural spaces. Cognitive processing22(1), 115-120.


Florida, R., Mellander, C., & Stolarick, K. (2011). Beautiful places: The role of perceived aesthetic beauty in community satisfaction. Regional studies45(1), 33-48.

Gómez-Puerto, G., Rosselló, J., Corradi, G., Acedo-Carmona, C., Munar, E., & Nadal, M. (2018). Preference for curved contours across cultures. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts12(4), 432.

Kennedy, C. J. (2003). The Geometry of Form: A preference study (Doctoral dissertation, University of British Columbia).

Leyden, K. M., Goldberg, A., & Michelbach, P. (2011). Understanding the pursuit of happiness in ten major cities. Urban affairs review47(6), 861-888.

Prince’s Foundation (2014) Housing Communities: What People Want pp. 9-10

Salingaros, N. A., (2021) HAPPINESS AND BIOPHILIC URBAN GEOMETRY. Journal of Biourbanism, pp 21-28

Seresinhe, C. I., Preis, T., & Moat, H. S. (2015). Quantifying the impact of scenic environments on health. Scientific reports5(1), 1-9.

Silvia, P. J., & Barona, C. M. (2009). Do people prefer curved objects? Angularity, expertise, and aesthetic preference. Empirical studies of the arts27(1), 25-42.

Soul of the Community Project, (2010), Soul of the Community 2010 Overall Findings, p.9. Available at

Sullivan, W. C., & Chang, C. Y. (2011). Mental health and the built environment. In Making healthy places (pp. 106-116). Island Press, Washington, DC.

Taylor, M. S., Wheeler, B. W., White, M. P., Economou, T., & Osborne, N. J. (2015). Research note: Urban street tree density and antidepressant prescription rates—A cross-sectional study in London, UK. Landscape and Urban Planning, 136, 174-179.

Tzoulas, K., Korpela, K., Venn, S., Yli-Pelkonen, V., Kaźmierczak, A., Niemela, J., & James, P. (2007). Promoting ecosystem and human health in urban areas using Green Infrastructure: A literature review. Landscape and urban planning, 81(3), 167-178.


Polls & other:

Create Streets Pop-up Poll:

The Harris Poll:

Interview Rem Koolhaas:

Denis Dutton TED talk:

New York Times: Life’s Preference for Symmetry Is Like ‘A New Law of Nature’

14 Patterns of Biophilic design:

Gentle Density:,and%20among%20single%2Dfamily%20zoned