Title : Elders Way finding in Public Buildings: Bridging Architecture and Neuroscience
Author : Noha Ahmed Abd El-Wahab Seif
Collection : M.Sc. Architecture
Way finding encompasses a dynamic relationship between the navigator and built environment components, where both human and design dimensions should work together for the best experienced successful navigation independently. Architectural designs set to promote way finding as well neuroscience literature which is rich with studies about cognitive map representing the core problem solving of way finding. On the other hand, Neuroscience scientific researches mention that Architecture today is factoring our senses at various points within the design, where we - as occupants- are invited to deal with the space through our senses. Despite navigation demonstrates importance to public building use and operational efficiency, there are poor regulated settings on way finding in general and way finding design especially for elders over 65 years old with normal aging changes. Elders suffer from problematic design features which make them fail to find their way leading to lots of errors. Their poor navigation always ends with getting lost or un secure evacuation that might cause their being volunteers of death. Designers should pay extra attention to achieve the justice satisfaction of all users’ needs in way finding including old people. Besides, the percentage of elders is increasing all over the world and in Egypt on local scale making their way finding problem aggravated over time. This thesis intends to explore a structure for both dimensions of way finding: human and design. Investigating the two fields; neuroscience and architecture is inevitable in order to fully understand elders’ poor way finding. Then, the target will be to figure out the design guidelines solutions with their related impact on elders’ dimension for evidence based design in addition to discovering an existing linkage between the two fields This research investigates elders’ navigation problem with respect to its two dimensions in order to achieve successful navigation by effective way finding design components. This will be applied through understanding the characteristics of fundamental human behavior’s response to different design features. Neuroscience is the study of brain as the main controller of human behavior. Our brains guide us to navigate either in new or experienced environment which explains their complexity. In addition, there are many design elements which have different impact on different users’ categories through interaction. That’s why it will be more helpful to add design feature knowing its impact on which of users’ problem aspects. This concept will help designers to deliver the best based evidence solution. Afterwards, the research provides a rich data source for primary guidelines for way finding design components and goals critical to maximize independent navigation for older people. This concept will enhance elder navigation with respect to declined functional abilities including physical and mental dimensions in their lives. Finally, this study will present a conceptual model bridging the two disciplines: architecture and neuroscience, to ensure a new framework for architects in design when making decisions built on neurological scientific physical evidence; i.e., ”reasoning”.