Directed visibility analysis: three case studies on the relationship between building layout, perception and behavior
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This is a study of the spatial affordances of buildings that allow them to organize and transmit cultural ideas and to support the performance of organizational roles. The particular affordances under consideration are those that arise from the manner in which buildings structure the visual fields that are potentially available to a situated observer. In studying directed visibility patterns, supported by the development of appropriate analytical tools, we focus on a previously specified set of visual targets and ask how many become visible from each occupiable location. Parametric restrictions concerning the direction into which a subject faces and the viewing angle sustained by the target object are also taken into consideration. The aim is to demonstrate how such refinements of visibility analysis, lead to more precise and penetrating insights as to how building users tune their behavior to the spatial affordances of environment, and how the environment impacts their understanding in turn. Three different studies were presented. The fist used directed visibility measures to evaluate the affordances of different nursing-unit designs relative to how well nurses are able to survey patients in different rooms as they go about their duties. The second study focuses on the manner in which nurses and physicians position themselves in a Neuro Intensive Care Unit (ICU), particularly when interacting. The third study investigates how aware exhibition visitors become of the visual structure of environment and how the visibility structure of exhibitions affects the ability of visitors to conceptually group paintings according to their thematic content. The case studies support the following conclusions. 1) The way in which people position themselves in an environment as they perform their assigned tasks is tuned to the way in which visual fields are structured. 2) The visual structure of environment is contingent upon the interaction between the underlying structure of visual fields and paths of movement. 3) Directed visibility analysis leads to stronger correlations with behavior and performance than generic visibility analysis. This implies that environments are layered. Their underlying spatial structure is charged by the distribution of the contents that are programmatically primary.