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AISB event Bulletin Item

CFP: Workshop "Spatial Cognition in Architectural Design"

*** Call for Contributions ***


Spatial Cognition in Architectural Design:
Anticipating User Behavior, Layout Legibility, and Route Instructions in the Planning Process

in conjunction with international Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT'07) Melbourne, Australia, 19 September 2007


Thomas Barkowsky (University of Bremen, Germany)
Zafer Bilda (University of Technology Sydney, Australia)
Christoph Hoelscher (University of Freiburg, Germany)
Georg Vrachliotis (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

advisory board

Ellen Do (Georgia Tech, USA)
Christian Freksa (University of Bremen, Germany)
John Gero (University of Sydney, Australia)
Gabriela Goldschmidt (Technion, Israel)
Barbara Tversky (Stanford University, USA)

workshop description

Architects make inferences about the spaces that 
they are not in. They can infer how
multi storey buildings look like by inspecting 
separate 2D layouts of the floors. They
can mentally synthesize separate spaces that make 
up a building design, and they can
create alternative designs by revising the spaces 
and how these spaces may come together.

Apart from these inferences, architects may also 
anticipate how residents and visitors
of a building will behave in the spaces. They may 
design a building in such a way that
people's ability to understand the spatial layout 
of this building is influenced (in a positive
or negative way). For instance, the legibility of 
the spatial environment may influence
the way in which routes between locations in the building are conceptualized,
mentally processed, and communicated. These 
issues as well can inform and change
the architect's spatial inferences and decisions 
in the architectural design process.

When we study how architects work, think and 
design, we observe that they use multiple
external cognitive tools to make spatial 
inferences. However, we cannot directly
observe what internal resources they use or how 
they make these inferences using
their internal spatial cognition facilities. 
There is anecdotal evidence that an architect is
not limited to the periods of using external 
cognition to be engaged in spatial inferences.
S/he also can be solving a spatial problem while, 
for instance, driving or having
a shower. Therefore there is recently more 
emphasis on the efforts to understand internal
cognition of designing.

 From a behavioral perspective, spatial cognition 
in the process of architectural designing
concerns constructing and interpreting spatial 
information internally and externally
using layouts, diagrams, symbols, gestures, 
models, and various forms of digital
media. To study how architects are engaged in these activities we distinguish
between internally induced / mental inferences 
and externally induced inferences.
Mental inferences may refer to two kinds of 
environments: the space around the body
(i.e. visible and tangible environments) and the 
space the body navigates in (i.e. the
environment too large to be seen at a glance). An 
architects inferences require
switching between both mental space types; a 
mental space where his body navigates
in and between spatial components of a building and a mental space defining the
global layout of the building (i.e. how it 
relates to the site and surroundings).

Questions to be considered in this workshop include, but are not restricted to:

 How do architects switch between the designer's and the users' perspectives
during the design process?
 What types of (internal and external) knowledge representations and processes
do they make use of?
 What are suitable computational tools for dealing with the spatial complexity
of the diverse spatial perspectives and requirements?
 What means are there to anticipate the way future users of the building will
conceive of the building layout?
 Regarding complex built environments, how can the aspect of conceptualizing
and communicating route knowledge be integrated in the design process?
 How do spatial / architectural and mental complexity related to each other
with respect to building layouts? What are the 
limits both in the design process
and the real experience of the resulting building complex?

call for contributions

Authors are invited to submit a contribution of 4 
to 6 pages as basis for discussions
during the workshop (pdf file in Springer Lecture 
Notes in Computer Science format,
see Please send your contribution to
Accepted contributions will be made available on 
the workshop web site unless their authors instruct us otherwise.

important dates

30 April 2007 submission of workshop contributions
15 June 2007 notification of acceptance
07 July 2007 final versions of workshop contributions
19 Sept 2007 workshop