Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts
Art and Design
Aggression in drinking establishments has been found to be associated with poorly maintained, unclean, unattractive environments including poor ventilation, smoky air, inconvenient bar access and inadequate seating, high noise level, and crowding (Graham, 1980). Macintyre and Homel (1992) concluded that the key feature of high aggression drinking establishments was intersecting traffic flows created by inappropriate design, especially poor location of toilets and bars, and the use of the same door as both entrance and exit. Aggression has also been found to increase with such activities as dancing and pool playing (Graham, 1980). Likewise, Radcliffe and Nutter (1979) concluded that people who engaged in social activities such as games tended to drink more slowly; however, they also tended to stay in the drinking establishment longer, ultimately consuming more alcohol than non-players. Thus, the activities found in a drinking establishment can impact the amount of drinking and aggression. Therefore, if this research shows that certain design decisions increase negative behaviors (aggression) then it should be possible to create guidelines to help designers, owners, and managers make decisions that decrease negative behaviors (aggression). This study examines the creation of such design and management guidelines, with the goal of making drinking establishments safer and less aggressive for their patrons through design.
In addition, most owners, managers, and patrons consider drinking establishments not only as places of alcohol consumption, but also as social spaces or spaces of social interaction. Therefore, in addition to reducing aggressive behaviors which are seen as negative, designers, owners, and managers should be interested in increasing the potential for sociability or positive social interaction in drinking establishments. Thus, the communication between patrons is also examined in this study. The likelihood of strangers interacting at a drinking establishment depends on the distance between them. As a general rule, a span of three bar stools is the maximum distance over which patrons would attempt to initiate an encounter (Sommer, 1969). Therefore, the design of a drinking establishment should support or encourage social interaction among individuals and groups. Just as distance is important, so is having a layout where patrons face one another. A patron can still arrange to be alone, bunching himself up at the end of a bar and staring down at his drink, or sitting at a remote table. But [if the bar is designed correctly] these postures must be maintained rigorously (Sommer, 1969).
This paper examines previous studies and proposes a set of guidelines which clearly point out the main ideas, targeting drinking establishment owners and interior designers. As a researcher and someone who has worked in a drinking establishment environment, multiple anecdotal incidents have been noted that could be reduced or even avoided if the design and management of the drinking establishment was better. This topic can benefit humankind by potentially changing the drinking patterns of patrons, and reducing "negative" behaviors (aggression) while increasing behaviors that are seen as more positive (greater sociability and activities in addition to the consumption of alcohol).
Jessica Lynn James
James, Jessica Lynn, "Alcohol with an attitude: Reducing aggression in drinking establishments through interior design" (2009). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 11037.