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Wayfinding in Unfamiliar Public Buildings - Factors in Landmark Recognition

Ching-Lan Chang

This study was undertaken to help understand what helps people navigate into and within unfamiliar buildings. The aim is to arrive at a list of factors influencing wayfinding and to find which landmark and building element characteristics are most significant in the cognitive processes behind wayfinding.

Three studies were conducted for this research. A case study and an experiment covered navigation provision and entrance recognition in existing buildings. An experiment in landmark recognition and wayfinding within buildings was also undertaken. For this, the participants were split into three groups: A, to find out which elements within the building were memorable (also used as control group); B, to find out which elements previously considered as landmarks were used as such when wayfinding; C, to find out which element characteristics prove useful in wayfinding.

This information was analysed to establish characteristics of elements which identify landmarks. Consideration of how these elements can be emphasised will be put forward. In addition, it is hoped that the results will aid the understanding of wayfinding shortcomings in current building design and help provide pointers to ways of overcoming these.


wayfinding, architecture, landmark, public building, navigation, spatial cognition