The Influence of Visual Perception on Responses towards Real-World Environments and Application towards Design
Experience of the built-environment is said to be dependent on visual perception and the physical properties of space. Scene and environmental preference research suggests that particular visual features greatly influence one's response to their environment. Typically, environments which are informative and allow an individual to gain further knowledge about their surroundings are preferred. Although such findings could be applied to the design process, it is first necessary to develop a way in which to accurately and objectively describe visual properties within an environment. Recently, it has been proposed that isovist analysis could be employed to describe built-environments. In two experiments, we examine whether or not isovist analysis can capture experience of real-world environments. In experiment 1, we demonstrate that isovist analysis can be employed to describe experience within a controlled, real-world, laboratory environment. In experiment 2, we employed post-occupancy examination of a student centre to examine the robustness of isovist analysis and whether it would capture experience of a complex, real-world environment. The results of experiment 2 suggest that isovist analysis could capture certain experiences, such as spaciousness, but failed to capture other responses. Regression analysis suggests that a large number of variables predicted experience, including previous experience with the building and the presence of other individuals. This suggests that experience of real-world, complex environments cannot be captured by the visual properties alone, instead various factors influence experience. Implications towards the design process are discussed.