written by Hannah Kruft
ARTIS-members (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Interdisciplinary Forum Neurourbanism) discussed and explored our aesthetic and affective experience of the urban environment at a Citizen Science event at the FUTURIUM Berlin.
The FUTURIUM is not an ordinary museum but a House of Futures, where everything revolves around the question: How do we want to live? On September 5th 2021 hundreds of visitors came together at the riverside of the Spree in Berlin to celebrate the museum’s second birthday. Our Berlin ARTIS partner, the Interdisciplinary Forum Neurourbanism (IFNU) and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HUB) joined the party as well. Together with visitors from all ages they discussed and explored our affective and aesthetic experience of the urban environment and presented the project “Your Emotional City”.
“Your Emotional City” is an app-based Citizen Science project which will investigate how the urban environment, including architecture and urban art, has an impact on stress, wellbeing and social cohesion. The project is a collaboration between the ARTIS partner Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Interdisciplinary Forum Neurourbanism and the Charity University Medicine Berlin. The app is developed together with the University College London and will be launched in summer 2022. It will monitor and geo-track people’s interactions with the urban environment and allow the creation of an emotional map of the city which will indicate places of stress and well-being. Citizen Science is a research approach which actively involves citizens in the research process. In “Your Emotional City!” citizens will not only participate in data collection by using the app, but can actively contribute to the development of research questions during public workshops and discussions by sharing their individual experiences and opinions of the city.
During the FUTURIUM event ARTIS member Joerg Fingerhut (HUB), Teresa Müller (student assistant at the Interdisciplinary Forum Neuourbanism) and Hannah Kruft (intern at ARTIS) invited visitors to get a first taste of “Your Emotional City!”. In an interactive online survey visitors could rate their affective and aesthetic experience of urban spaces and see the results in real time on screen. Some questions regarded familiar places in Berlin, others were taken from previous psychological and neuroscientific studies on the built environment. What comes to your mind, when you are looking down at the city from the Berlin TV tower? Where do you prefer to sit in the library? What building facade makes you want to enter it? Where would you like to meet with someone? The results were discussed in light of personal experiences and past research findings.
Throughout the event, visitors could indicate their individual places of stress and well-being on an analog map of the city so that slowly but surely an emotional map of Berlin emerged. The map clearly showed how cities such as Berlin can be very stressful indeed, but provide opportunities for restoration and stimulation at the same time. The aim of “Your Emotional City” is thus not only to identify factors that contribute to stress and poor health, but to reveal and promote the positive aspects of city living, too. When we hurry from A to B and are caught up in the humdrum of daily routines they often tend to escape our attention. Have you ever noticed, for example, the little park around the corner? And what about the gallery space down the road? Or the new graffiti on the building next door? Have you ever paid attention to the buildings that surround you? How they impact your mood by altering your movement and posture and evoking certain memories and ideas? Have you ever thought about the transformative potential of architecture? In light of this, ARTIS member Joerg Fingerhut (HUB) invited visitors to a walk on the rooftop of the FUTURIUM to talk about experiences of beauty and wonder in the city and how architecture can, just as art, influence our perceptions of the world and enrich our lives.