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Title: Environmental information and cognitive needs
Author: Sapounakis, Aristides A.
Awarding Body: Heriot-Watt University
Current Institution: Heriot-Watt University
Date of Award: 1984
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Contemporary architectural and urban design have been vigorously criticized for being monotonous, impersonal and poor in content. The discussion which has subsequently developed on the question of the man - environment relationship has succeeded in elucidating certain aspects of the issue and in influencing the work of many designers. Still, it has up to now failed to produce the distinct paradigmatic guidelines needed for a drastic change in the way designers approach design problems. For this reason, the environment's potential content (ie. the object of cognition) is firstly examined. Our surroundings are found to be exceptionally rich in information that is stored in them in the process of their shaping. This content is ordered and represented in a model. The exploration of the nature of man's cognitive needs, on the other hand, shows that man often decodes more environmental messages than what is usually assumed. Such cognitive activity, which may be independent of the primary functions performed in space and may even refer to the entirety of the environment's content, is complementary to man's overall understanding of the world. To rephrase the functionalist dictum, not only "form follows function" but also form itself functions through cognition. Designers, who can thus be seen as the editors of environmental messages, must acquire a deep understanding of this function and its qualities. They must constantly try to make the best out of an environment's own potential content so as to meet the demands of the users'cognitive needs for the given setting. This content should be transmitted legibly and in an organized manner following the afore-mentioned model. By examining the requirements set by cognition both in a holistic sense as well as in terms of their particular complexities and varieties, it is believed that the present study will contribute substantially to the theory and practice of design.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available