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Architectural Cognition and Behavior

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Abstract

Architectural cognition is the set of perceptual and mental processes involved in the interaction between a building and its users. The following chapter reviews these phenomena, starting with the assumption that one of the key determinants of which processes are involved is the user’s physical relation to the building’s structure and the user’s movement (or lack thereof) through it. This results in a framework where cognitive processes involved in the dynamic exploration (various aspects of wayfinding) are reviewed separately from the ones possibly occurring from a single viewpoint (such as the appreciation of a facade). The chapter considers behavioral studies in the field of spatial cognition as well as architectural writings addressing the experience of (potential) building visitors. Research methods useful in the experimental design and formal analysis of architectural structures are emphasized; among them, space syntax and virtual reality have been particularly fruitful in recent studies of architectural cognition. Mobile eye-tracking and remote psychophysiological measures show interesting promise for the near future.