Been working my way through Ellard’s Places of the Heart, (highly recommended read, too) which explores many dimensions of psycho-geography, the relationship between the spaces we inhabit and our emotions and cognition.
He considers the impact on walkers who walk rear or inside spaces with spiky, pointy and angular forms, as opposed to those with more rectangular or curvy shapes.
Straight lines and acute angles are not only less preferred and less likely to be judged as beautiful, but living among them may also unleash potent effects on our behaviour …it makes perfect sense for us to have an aversion to hard sharp edges and acute angles. Such shapes may suggest teeth, claws or other kinds of dangerous edges; it would be adaptive for us to veer away from them and toward gentler surfaces. The evidence that exposure to such shapes may spill over … to social judgments cooperative group behaviour is also in keeping with modern views of embodied cognition..” (p.135)
Above are images of the Chin Crystal and a church here in Renfrew which exemplify these angular shapes. It raises the question of how we might promote contemplation while we walk, indoors or out, when the shape of the accompanying space promotes anxiety and fear. Ellard suggests that we are most at home with curvy shapes and those that evoke familiar forms of our early lives. He suggests this is why so many commercial storefronts mimic design elements of houses or “olde timey” stores. Tim Hortons sho-fronts are a good example: