Scott Adams recently posted an interesting article about home design:
After my wife and I built our current home, I was surprised to discover that some spaces are naturally inviting and others feel lonely. You can feel the difference as you walk from one room to another. Our minds and bodies have very specific preferences about space, and that's the sort of thing that can be tested with prototype homes. You can't guess how a home will feel by looking at blueprints. Case in point, when we entertain, everyone crowds into a little triangle that technically isn't even a room. It's more of a transition between two spaces. But you could do the experiment at our house a hundred times, with a hundred different groups, and they'd all end up standing in the same little triangular area to socialize. None of that could have been predicted by the floor plans.
When I worked at Microsoft, I took a course about software design. They referred to a book called The Timeless Way of Building, which is about understanding the patterns of human though and using a pattern language to design the spaces you live and work in.
This book is about exactly what Mr. Adams is talking about in his post. The author takes a comprehensive look at who we are as people, both individually and in groups. It then derives a set of patterns of behavior that match our psychology and simultaneously integrate well with our unique culture and environment. The end result is that every space is thought out rather than just erected.
The book is definitely more philosophical than hands-on. However, it can give you great insight into how to think about how your designs will be used.