A Semi-immersive Virtual Environment Preference Study of Four Interior Architectural Geometries

Apr 06, 2015

This pilot study addresses the appropriateness of architectural forms and provides a novel process for examining how new forms affect inhabitants’ well-being. The present study tested preference levels of four different architectural geometries in an innovative semi-immersive virtual environment (“CAVEtte”), designed and built by the author and a collaborator. All digitally modeled designs were of four built Maggie’s Centres: (curved) Southwest Wales by Kisho Kurokawa; {mixed} Aberdeen by Snohetta; [rectilinear] Cheltenham by MJP Architects; and Fife by Zaha Hadid.

Sixty-five participants participated in Experiment 1, watching four walk-through videos, one of each building, in a randomly selected order. Participants filled out a subjective survey, which helped define ‘preference’ using six pairs of bipolar adjectives of semantic differentials with an added ‘neutral’ between each pair. The word sets were: 1) pleasant, unpleasant; 2) exciting, depressing; 3) relaxing, stressful; 4) friendly, unfriendly; 5) like, dislike; 6) beautiful, ugly. While findings are consistent with previous contour-focused studies, there were some intriguing novel results when the data were parsed demographically by age, gender, education level, designers versus non-designers, and years in the profession, demonstrating that preference was modulated by these factors. Further, the study demonstrates the potential for architects that a virtual environment can have for judging how designs are perceived by clients and the public.

keywords: Preference Study, Immersive Virtual Environment

Hannah Hobbs (NewSchool of Architecture + Design)
Kurt Hunker (NewSchool of Architecture + Design)
Vuslat Demircay (NewSchool of Architecture + Design)
Tiffany Rodriguez (NewSchool of Architecture + Design)
Rajaa Issa (NewSchool of Architecture + Design)
Presented at: 
ARCC 2015 Conference – The FUTURE of Architectural Research (Chicago, IL)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC)
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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