The Shaping of Us



Space Works Director Lily Bernheimer’s first book was published by Little, Brown in November 2017. 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 – 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 behaviour. 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 book is available from Amazon UK, Little Brown, The Guardian Bookshop, and Waterstones. American and Polish editions will be coming out in 2018!

Praise for The Shaping of Us 

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