Effects of design around a window on the mental strain of a person working at a desk
Authors: Karin Ueda, Yohsuke Yoshioka
Abstract: When working in a room, people may choose to work around a window for a sense of openness and recovery of fatigue. However, design around a window for example the size of a window and the distance from the sidewalk may have a negative effect on the mental strain, such as decreased concentration on work.In this study, we examined the effects of design around a window on the mental burden of person working at a desk through a subjective experiment using both a virtual environment technology and an electrodermal activity measurement method. This study is a part of research aimed at obtaining knowledge about design around a window that does not cause mental strain. We arranged floor-to-ceiling height windows and a moving virtual human avatar in the virtual environment and measured the skin potential response (SPR) of the subjects under each condition.A total of eleven students participated in the experiment. The subject wore an electrodermal activity meter and sat in the middle of a quiet experimental room. They also experienced a virtual rectangular room presented via a head-mounted display. The dimensions of the virtual room were set at 3000 mm in width, 2500 mm in depth, and 3000 mm in height. A 3000 mm high window was created on the front wall. We set the subject sat 800 mm away from the window of the virtual room. Human avatars passed outside the window.There are eighteen experimental conditions with those three parameters: three widths of window (1000, 2000, and 3000 mm), three types of avatars (1. walking, 4. jogging, and 5. striding) and two distance levels between the subject and avatar (1000 and 2000 mm). In one continuous trial, three of the eighteen experimental conditions were presented in random order, resulting in three types of avatars appearing at 30-50 seconds intervals while the window width was fixed at a certain level of three. After a 20-second break, the next trial began with the other condition. The order of the window widths and distance level between the subject and avatar was in random order for each subject. During the experiment, the subjects performed a task to type a key in the same direction as an arrow displayed on a monitor.The results showed that the mental strain of the person working at a desk was significantly higher when the window width was 1000 mm in comparison to a window width of 3000 mm. when 1. walking avatar appeared. Compared to the previous experiment in which subjects had no task, the mental strain was significantly reduced in some factors. From these analyses, we find that the narrower the window width, the higher the mental strain on the person working at a desk. Also, it suggests that the mental strain varies depending on existence of a task.These findings may be useful in creating window designs that make it easier to concentrate on tasks.
Keywords: Architectural Design, Virtual Environment, Subjective Experiment
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