Experiments in mapping human factors for sustainable design and living
Book chapter, 2014

This paper explores architectural design considerations regarding challenges of sustainable living, drawing parallels to extreme environments, in relation to user-centered design research conducted by researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, University of Houston and NASA. It further discusses application in the context of a Sustainable Living Lab, to be built as student housing on the Chalmers campus. Extreme environments are here defined as places that pose significant complications and risks for people to maintain their usual everyday activities with a certain level of physical and psychological comfort. The research addresses the need for integrated solutions, and the conscious development of sustainable strategies based in an understanding of human factors and residential practices. The paper presents a theoretical and methodological background for a proposed experimental ‘design/build/live’ approach and results from initial studies with students on user perceptions and ideation. Findings indicate that an optimization of spatial or material use can be found for example in a reassessment of activities perceived as private or shared, as well as the spatial compatibility of different functions, informing the design of facilities and building systems, as well as social organization and demands for supporting systems. Perceptions on changing practices towards shared use, and the value of co-creation processes for enabling sustainable living practices are emphasized.


human factors

extreme environments




Olga Bannova

Chalmers, Architecture

Pernilla Hagbert

Chalmers, Architecture

R. García Mira & A. Dumitru (Eds.), Urban Sustainability: Innovative Spaces, Vulnerabilities and Opportunities. A Coruña: Institute of Psychosocial Studies and Research “Xoan Vicente Viqueira”


Subject Categories

Architectural Engineering

Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)

Civil Engineering

Social and Economic Geography

Cultural Studies

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)



More information