The UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

Wayfinding – where Cognition meets Architectural Design

Christoph Hölscher, Professor of Cognitive Science, ETH Zürich

12:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Phelps Hall 3512 (map)

Christoph_HolscherAbstract. Orientation and navigation can be a challenging task in the built environment, especially in large-scale public buildings such as hospitals, conference centers, train stations or airports. This can limit the functional qualities of a building as well as patron’s well-being. Understanding how environmental features as well as individual spatial abilities shape orientation as well as movement behaviors can help architects improve the usability and user experience of their building designs. We employ spatial analysis tools such as Space Syntax, behavior observation and targeted user experiments, eye-tracking studies and Virtual Reality simulation as part of human-centered design support and evaluation. Such behavioral user studies are complemented by interviews and design experiments with architectural designers in order to clarify how architects anticipate building usage and human cognition in their own design process. I will provide an overview of these studies and hope to discuss how this can extend to movement behavior of groups and how multi-agent simulation can be integrated.

Christoph Hölscher is a psychologist by training and Professor of Cognitive Science at ETH Zürich since 2013, with an emphasis on Applied Cognitive Science. He was previously Assistant Professor at the Cognitive Science Center of the University of Freiburg, Germany. There he was as principal investigator on projects in the SFB/TR8 Spatial Cognition, Europe’s largest research center on spatial cognition integrating psychology, cognitive science, computer science, linguistics and GIS. He holds a PhD in Psychology from University of Freiburg, serves as honorary senior research fellow at UCL, Bartlett School of Architecture, and as visiting Professor at Northumbria University Newcastle. The ETH Cognitive Science group is investigating basic and applied questions of complex cognition, i.e. understanding how humans tackle complex tasks in real-world task environments. Such complex tasks range from interaction with computer system to finding one’s way around a large building or urban environment. The group is reaching out to engineers, architects and designers, emphasizing a human-centered perspective on technology and environmental design.

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.
Please contact Andrea Ballatore (893-5267, to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

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