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MOVEMENT AND WAYFINDING IN THE KING SAUD UNIVERSITY BUILT ENVIRONMENT: A LOOK AT FRESHMAN ORIENTATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION

Authors
Journal
Journal of Environmental Psychology
0272-4944
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
16
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1006/jevp.1996.0026
Disciplines
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Psychology

Abstract

Abstract One potentially significant, yet hardly investigated, criterion for postoccupancy evaluation is the legibility of a setting—the degree to which a building or group of buildings facilitate the ability of users to find their way around. Legibility is one of the foundation concepts of environmental psychology, yet it has not often been considered enough as a guiding principle in design. The purpose of this paper is to analyse spatial orientation and wayfinding problems encountered by newcomers (freshman students) at the King Saud University (KSU) campus, Saudi Arabia, and to test/relate this to Lynch's elements of the image of cities. The analysis draws on previous research findings, theories, and more general observations, as well as observations made of wayfinding performance and map sketching by 30 high-school students likely to soon enroll at the university. Many specific problems with orientation and the architectural legibility of the buildings are identified and discussed. Emphasis is placed upon physical-setting variables that are likely to affect the ease with which spatial orientation and wayfinding are accomplished. These include the following facets of the KSU built environment: degree of differentiation; degree of visual access; and complexity of spatial layout. Legible buildings within which people can effectively maintain their orientation and find their way, according to this research, are in no way simplistic, dull, or boring; on the contrary, settings must possess distinctive landmarks and regions which, along with understandable path networks, allow users to know where they are and how to make their way to desired destinations. Coherent and legible environments are important in the lives of the people who use them. The movement of people through buildings and the factors that influence whether or not they are able to find their way need to continue to be of significance to both researchers and practitioners.

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