In nature, sensory and physical characteristics of the environment tend to match; for example, a surface that looks bumpy is bumpy. In human-built environments, they often don’t. Here we report observations from people exploring if mismatch between visual and physical characteristics affected their perceived walking experience. Participants walked across four flat floors, each comprising of a visual illusion: two patterns perceived as alternating 3D “furrows and ridges”; the “Primrose Field” illusion, and a variant of the “Café Wall” illusion as a control pattern without perceived 3D effects. Participants found all patterns intriguing to look at; some describing them as “playful” or “gentle”. More than half found some of the patterns uncomfortable to walk on, aversive, affecting walking stability and occasionally even evoking fear of falling. These experiences raise crucial research questions for the vision sciences into the impact of architectural design on wellbeing and walkability.
- Cognitive Science
- Visual Perception