The UCSB Architecture and Mind Research Focus Group (RFG) is a forum comprised of faculty, graduate students, and design practitioners. Convened for the 2015-2016 academic year by Professors Volker Welter (History of Art and Architecture), Mary Hegarty (Psychological and Brain Sciences), and Daniel Montello (Geography), the group discusses design, aesthetics, and human experience.

The group is dedicated to readings about and discussions of the various ways in which the humanities, cognitive psychology, and behavioral/cognitive geography examine and think about human comprehension of space and place, orientation within a designed environment, perception of architectural and aesthetic details, and architecture’s relations to both the human body and mind.

During a recent visit to Los Angeles, the group enjoyed an exploration of the Schindler House, in West Hollywood, and the Eames House, in Pacific Palisades, taking a break for lunch at the L.A. Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax. Experiencing these homes and public spaces brought this year’s readings on spatial orientation, social interaction, and perception to life.


The Schindler House, constructed in 1922, is notable for its extension of indoor space to outdoor living areas and is one of Rudolph Schindler’s most important surviving works. It also notable for its experimental domestic design, intended to support the co-habitation of two married couples, Rudolph and Pauline Schindler, and Clyde and Marian Chace. The research group engaged with the home by writing their impressions of the physical spaces within the home. The group also learned about preservation efforts during a tour of the home.


Following the visit to the Schindler House, the group toured another experiment in domestic dwelling. The Eames House, finished in 1949, was part of the The Case Study House Program, constructed with modular industrial-grade materials and intended to serve as both a home and an artists’ studio. The theme of transparency, extending interior space to the exterior, was reinforced by the house’s characteristic glass walls.

At the next Architecture and Mind meeting, members of the RFG look forward to assessing the group’s reactions to the spaces, and discussing the role that these homes played as microcosms of greater social shifts revolutionizing the modern domestic sphere.

The Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC) supports this research group, and the Center for Spatial Studies subsidized the cost of the field trip.

For more information about the RFG, please see:

Architecture and Mind Research Focus Group