Research and Surveys

There is an increasing body of academics and practitioners studying in a variety of fields that relate to and shed light on the benefits, impacts, and best practices of traditional building, architecture, and urbanism. Here below we have compiled these studies for your use. Text describing these studies is quoted from the studies themselves. Please see the relevant links to learn more about each study and advise of us research you believe should be included in this list.

Environmental Psychology

Public Preference and Trends

ADAM Architecture. YouGov survey results show that people prefer traditional rather than contemporary buildings

  • In a YouGov survey to determine whether the public prefers traditional or contemporary buildings, 77% of respondents who selected a design, from a choice of 4, chose traditional architecture over contemporary styles. Only 23% chose contemporary buildings. This is thought to be the first time that a survey has been conducted to find out the people’s preference in relation to non-residential buildings.
  • For a press release of the survey, see here:

ADAM Architecture. Tomorrow’s Home: Emerging social trends and their impact on the built environment

  • Looks into emerging social trends in the 18 to 34 age group in England and Wales and how these will impact on the built environment...Reveals how technology, education, wealth and personal relationships are changing the life-styles of the up-and-coming generation.
  • Identifies: a new ‘individual collectivism’, where city living, sharing and renting are on the increase; ‘downloadable lifestyles’, where the new generation will demand increased facilities in cities and smaller towns, ‘mega/micro commuting’, where new working conditions are already changing travel patterns; and suggests that we are seeing ‘the end of the dormitory suburb’. All this will lead to ‘new housing ladders’ which will transform our towns, cities and countryside.
  • To download and executive summary, see here:

Mouratidis, K., & Hassan, R. (2020). Contemporary versus traditional styles in architecture and public space: A virtual reality study with 360-degree videos. Cities, 97, 102499.

Physiological and Health Benefits

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2017 Jul; 14(7): 773. Harumi Ikei, Chorong Song, and Yoshifumi Miyazaki. Physiological Effects of Touching Coated Wood.

“This study examined the physiological effects of touching wood with various coating with the palm of the hand on brain activity and autonomic nervous activity…The results indicated that tactile stimulation with uncoated wood calmed prefrontal cortex activity (vs. urethane finish and mirror finish), increased parasympathetic nervous activity (vs. vitreous finish, urethane finish, and mirror finish), and decreased heart rate (vs. mirror finish), demonstrating a physiological relaxation effect. Further, tactile stimulation with oil- and vitreous-finished wood calmed left prefrontal cortex activity and decreased heart rate relative to mirror-finished wood.”

Quality of Life

Research & Policy Lab, National Trust for Historic Preservation. Older, Smaller, Better.

“This groundbreaking study demonstrates the unique and valuable role that older, smaller buildings play in the development of sustainable cities. Building on statistical analysis of the built fabric of three major American cities, the research demonstrates that established neighborhoods with a mix of older, smaller buildings perform better than districts with larger, newer structures when tested against a range of economic, social, and environmental outcome measures.”

Mouratidis, K. (2018). Built environment and social well-being: How does urban form affect social life and personal relationships? Cities, 74, 7-20. 

  • The built environment can influence social well-being.
  • Compact urban forms may increase satisfaction with personal relationships.
  • Shorter distances facilitate larger social networks and more frequent socializing.
  • Higher densities and ‘third places’ increase opportunities to meet new people.
  • Findings contribute to debates on quality of life and urban sustainability.

Sustainability, Energy Performance, or Durability

ADAM Architecture. A study of the energy performance of two buildings with lightweight and heavyweight facades – Energy & Environmental Assessment

  • ADAM Architecture formed a consortium of house-builders, a planning consultant and Atelier 10, the leading environmental engineers, to provide a properly tested comparison between a largely glass-walled lightweight building and a traditional dense-walled building with punched window openings and traditional materials.
  • The research demonstrates the clear relative benefits of the traditional building type as against the glass-wall type, and confirms what all environmental engineers know but most architects would rather ignore: that traditional buildings are the most sustainable type.
  • For executive summary, see here:

GreenScale Research, University of Notre Dame, School of Architecture. GreenScale Research
“Today, prevailing discourse on “green” building practices centers on a presumed corollary between sustainability and advanced building technologies. As a result, research and discussions about achieving sustainability and greener building methods has generally focused on the capabilities of modern technology to generate “sustainable” design solutions. And yet, currently there exists no universally accepted method or tool capable of holistically measuring the broader impact of these advanced technologies on the built and natural environments. What are the true costs – the consequences, even – of these novel and often experimental building materials and methods of assembly? And how might they be measured in order to expand our ability to make informed design and material decisions, leading ultimately to the creation of truly sustainable buildings?”

Preservation Green Lab, National Trust for Historic Preservation. Realizing the Energy Efficiency Potential of Small Buildings 
“A new study…finds that an array of energy savings in small commercial buildings could profitably yield more than $30 billion in annual cost savings and improved financial performance…The report defines elements and recommends key actions needed to realize energy savings across seven million business establishments operating in 4.4 million small buildings nationally.”

Preservation Green Lab, National Trust for Historic Preservation. Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement 
“This analysis…builds on previous research by examining multiple window improvement options, comparing them to replacement windows across multiple climate regions. This report…concludes that a number of existing window retrofit strategies come very close to the energy performance of high-performance replacement windows at a fraction of the cost. Saving Windows, Saving Money’s key findings offer homeowners, contractors, architects and others with compelling evidence of the merits of retrofitting windows as opposed to outright replacement.”

Preservation Green Lab, National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse 
“This groundbreaking study…concludes that, when comparing buildings of equivalent size and function, building reuse almost always offers environmental savings over demolition and new construction. The report’s key findings offer policy-makers, building owners, developers, architects and engineers compelling evidence of the merits of reusing existing buildings as opposed to tearing them down and building new.”