Architecture has an ancient relationship to mathematics, and symmetry—in the broad sense of the term—is a core topic of both. Yet the contemporary application of theories of symmetry to architecture and built environments is a surprisingly immature area of research. At the same time, research is showing a divergence between the benefits of and preferences for natural environments on the one hand, and built environments on the other, demonstrating relatively deleterious effects of many contemporary built environments. Yet the research cannot yet pinpoint the actual geometric factors of architecture and urbanism that could produce such an important divergence. This paper explores this research gap, surveying the literature across a range of fields, and assessing current evidence for the impacts of symmetry in the built environment upon human perception and well-being. As an emerging case study, it considers the recent work by Christopher Alexander and Nikos Salingaros, two trained mathematicians who have made notable contributions to architecture and urbanism. The conclusion proposes a new research agenda toward further development of this immature subject area.
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