For engineering applications, human comfort in the built environment depends on several objective aspects that can be mathematically controlled and limited to reference performance indicators. Typical examples include structural, energy and thermal issues, and others. Human reactions, however, are also sensitive to a multitude of aspects that can be associated with design concepts of the so-called “emotional architecture”, through which subjective feelings, nervous states and emotions of end-users are evoked by constructional details. The interactions of several objective and subjective parameters can make the “optimal” building design challenging, and this is especially the case for new technical concepts, constructional materials and techniques. In this paper, a remote experimental methodology is proposed to explore and quantify the prevailing human reactions and psychological comfort trends for building occupants, with a focus on end-users exposed to structural glass environments. Major advantages were taken from the use of virtual visual stimuli and facial expression automatic recognition analysis, and from the active support of 30 volunteers. As shown, while glass is often used in constructions, several intrinsic features (transparency, brittleness, etc.) are responsible for subjective feelings that can affect the overall psychological comfort of users. In this regard, the use of virtual built environments and facial expression analysis to quantify human reactions can represent an efficient system to support the building design process.
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