I was intrigued by this line from a new paper by John N. Ivan, Norman W. Garrick, and Gilbert Hanson titled “Designing Roads That Guide Drivers to Choose Safer Speeds”:
The aesthetics or “beauty” of a road environment has also been investigated in relation to traffic safety. Drottenborg (1999) studied the impact of speed on streets that appear as “beautiful” due to the blossoming of cherry trees along the streets in Lund during springtime, and similar streets that lack such beautification. She found that the free-flow mean speed decreased by about 5 percent and the number of vehicles traveling at high speeds between 50-60 km/h decreased by about 12 percent during the cherry blossom period.
One imagines a whole new sub-field of traffic engineering, with myriad questions: Do certain buildings or even architectural styles affect driver behavior? Can beautiful people literally “stop traffic”?
This is a lovely observation.
Lately I have been working as much as possible with graphic recorders who bring a level of beauty into a meeting that has a similar effect. When people work with graphic recorders, they approach the wall reflectively, take care to choose their words and make sure that what they are adding to the record is somehow commensurate with the aesthetic experience being captured.
People want more effective meetings and gatherings and I think a key way to get to effectiveness is to slow down. Slowing down can only happen in a physical environment where there is beauty that can catch our eye, catch ahold of the flow of conversations and cause little swirls and eddies that invite it to loop back on itself, become reflective and therefore effective.