Just down the road a piece: The development of topological knowledge of building layouts

Saif Haq, Craig Zimring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


This study explores whether people's topological knowledge changes as they get to know a setting. Volunteers (n = 128) performed open and directed searches in three large hospitals. In open searches the participants attempted to become familiar with the hospital; in directed searches they sought specific locations. The participants also performed various cognitive tasks such as pointing and sketch mapping. During initial exploration, they relied more on local topological qualities, such as how many additional nodal decision points could be seen from a given node. As they got to know the setting better, their wayfinding behavior was better predicted by more global qualities such as the space syntax integration of a node. This suggests that people rapidly move from a local to a more global topological understanding as they learn a setting. In addition, space syntax measures were good predictors of the participant's ability to point to out-of-sight locations and of their sketch maps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-160
Number of pages29
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


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