Architecture, Communities, Design, Development, Majid Al Futtaim, Neuroscience, Property, Urban development, Urbanism

UAE developer studies brain response to drive urban development

A UAE-headquartered developer has used neuroscience to understand how buildings and communities are intrinsically perceived, Construction Week reported.

Majid Al Futtaim, which develops shopping malls, communities, and retail and leisure facilities, has unveiled the findings of the neuroscience study, which was designed to identify the drivers behind emotional attachment to urban developments and communities.

Conducted by Neurons Inc, the study, commissioned by Majid Al Futtaim, used electroencephalography (EEG) and eye-tracking technology to measure how participants in the UAE subconsciously, as well as consciously, responded to 100 images of urban developments and landscapes from around the world.

The study is expected to boost emotional and functional values in Majid Al Futtaim’s approach to property planning, design, and development.

More than one million data points were collected from the study and analysed to arrive at the the findings.

A “clear distinction between conscious and subconscious responses” was identified by the study.

For instance, while respondents consciously stated a liking for vibrant environments with “highly active social interaction” elements, their subconscious brain activity pointed to a preference for “simple, everyday human activities around homes and communities”.

The study found that elements of everyday human activity, greenery, artistic features, and bright colours were the most powerful drivers of emotional engagement with destinations and environments.

An emphasis was found on greenery that was naturally landscaped and “positioned in a way that provided a sense of human scale and privacy”.

A “subconscious preference for shades of blue and green in design and artistic features that people can interact with” was also discovered by the study.

Among the strongest negative responses were recorded by images that “displayed a visible lack of human interaction and natural landscapes”.

According to a statement by the developer, “dirt and damage were also shown to have an immediate negative and lasting impact on participants”.

Commenting on the study, Hawazen Esber, chief executive officer of Majid Al Futtaim Communities, said: “Historically, researchers and developers have focused on the conscious drivers of preference for real estate design and development.

“Our unique neuroscience research study enables a deeper understanding of what subconsciously drives emotional value and a sense of belonging for our customers and the wider community.”

Esber said the study would support the developer’s aim as a “destination creator”, especially in the mixed-use property segment.

“The study helps us identify crucial elements that make for happy, heathy communities and become the foundation for how we bring our integrated retail, leisure, and entertainment offering to design mixed-use destinations that drive holistic value for residents and surrounding communities,” he added.

Majid Al Futtaim’s announcement comes ahead of Cityscape Global 2017, the real estate exhibition to be hosted in Dubai between 11 and 13 September.