The Shaping of Us

Space Works Director Lily Bernheimer’s first book was published in the US by Trinity University Press in June 2019! The Shaping of Us reveals how space shapes us, and what the shape of our environments says about us. Through public space, housing, workspaces, healthcare environments and cities, she shows us how space mediates community, creativity and our very identity – how it makes us who we are.

Using insights from environmental psychology, design, and architecture, The Shaping of Us uncovers the often imperceptible ways in which our surroundings influence our behavior. You will learn whether you are a natural prospector or refuger in an office environment, what roundabouts and stoplights say about British and American culture, whether you are guilty of NIMBYism, and how the half-house may be a common sight in the near future.

Wide ranging and global examples cover the differences between personalities and nationalities, how grass-roots and mainstream efforts have been made to build environments promoting well-being, and why we are drawn to “ruin porn.”

Bernheimer traces what makes spaces work and what may become of us if we don’t listen closely to what we know is good for us. The environments we inhabit define our identities — from the earliest moments of our evolution to the worlds we build around us.

The American hardcover edition from Trinity University Press is available from Amazonlocal independent booksellers,  and everywhere books are sold!

The Shaping of Us was first published Little, Brown in November 2017. The British edition is available from Amazon UK, Little Brown, The Guardian Bookshop, and Waterstones. The Polish edition, Potęga Przestrzeni Wokół Nas, was published in 2018.

Praise for The Shaping of Us 

“Just a great book.  Few things matter more than the spaces we inhabit, and Bernheimer convincingly states the case for design that accepts humanity as we actually are.  You will never look at your neighbor, home or office quite the same way ever again.” 

— Tim Wu, author of The Attention Merchants and The Curse of Bigness.

“You are going to be transported by what Bernheimer has to say. You’ll make different decisions and figure out how your brain is working and what should be prioritized in your life.”

— Jo Good, BBC London

“How do our environments – built, natural, and biological – fit or fail to fit our needs as human beings? Lily Bernheimer takes us on a tour, a tour de force, of illuminating cases, with sage advice for those who design spaces for human beings to live humane lives.”

–George Lakoff, author of Don’t Think of an Elephant

In this exceptionally readable book, Lily Bernheimer has translated research findings and design practice into a highly engaging account of how we interact with and mould the spaces around us. Bernheimer is an environmental psychologist who shows us that with more thought and imagination, our buildings and cities could provide us with more stimulating, rewarding and liveable environments.

— David Uzzell, Professor of Environmental Psychology, University of Surrey