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Amos Rapoport is Distinguished Professor in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has taught at the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, at the University of California, Berkeley, and at University College, London, and has held visiting appointments in Israel, Turkey, Great Britain, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, and elsewhere. He has also lectured by invitation and been a Visiting Fellow in many countries. Professor Rapoport is one of the founders o the new field of Environmentf Behavior Studies. His work has focused mainly on the role of cultural variables, cross-cultural studies, and theory development and synthesis. In addition to the present book, he is the author of House Form and Culture (originally published in 1969 and translated into five languages), Human Aspects of Urban Form (19771, and History and Precedent in Environmental Design (1990). In addition, he has published over two hundred papers, chapters, and essays, many of them invited, and is the editor or coeditor of four books. He has been the editor in chief of Urban Ecology and associate editor of Environment and Behavior, and he has been on the editorial boards of many professional journals. In 1980 the Environmental Design Research Association honored him with its Distinguished Career Award. Professor Rapoport has been the recipient of a Senior Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Graham Foundation Fellowship. During the academic year 1982-83 he was a Visiting Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, of which he is now a Life Member. He has also been a member of the program committee (1987-1988) and the jury (1989) for the International City Design competition.
The Meaning of the Built Environment
A M O S
R A P O P O R T
The Meaning of the Built Environment
A NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION APPROACH
With a New Epilogue by the Author
THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA PRESS
The University of Arizona Press Copyright 0 1982, 1990 by Amos Rapoport All rights reserved Manufactured in the United States of America @ This book is printed on acid-free, archival-quality paper. 94 9 3 92 9 1 9 0 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Rapoport, Amos. The meaning of the built environment : a nonverbal communication approach /Amos Rapoport ; with a new epilogue by the author. p. cm. ~ e p r i n tOriginally published: Beverly Hills : Sage Publications . ~1982. ISBN 0-8165-1176-4 (alk. paper) 1. Environmental psychology. 2. Meaning (Psychology) 3. Nonverbal communication. I. Title. [BF353.R36 19901 155.9-dc20 90-10742 CIP British Library Cataloguing in Publication data are available.
Preface 1 The Importance of Meaning
The Meanrngs of Env~ronments0 Users' Meanings and Designers' Meanrrlgs Perceptual and Assoclatronal Aspects o f the Environment
I h e Study of Meaning
The Semrotrc Approach The Symbollc Approach T h e Nonverbal Communicatlon Approach
Elnvironmental Meaning. Preliminary Considerations for a Nonverbal Communication Approach
Enculturatron and Environment Socral Communication and Context The Mnemonrc Function of Enurronnlent
Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning
Fixed-Feature Elements Semrfrxed-Feature Elements Nonfixed-Feature Elements 0 The Nonverbal Cornmunlcation Approach
Small-Scale Examples of Applications IJrban Examples of Applications
Redundancy and Clai rty o f Cues Suburban Image Urban Cues
Environment, Meaning, and Communication
The Nature of "Enulronment" Organlzat~on ofspace Organization o f Time Organization of Communrcation 0 Organization c$ Meanrng The Relationship Between Meaning and Cornmunlcation
Conclusion References Epilogue Index
2 19 249
UNIVERSITY 1.IBRAEI"IES MPNEGBE-MELLON UNIVERFiS'fY
For Dorothy .
This involve: working with small pieces of information and evidence from varied fields and disciplines that use different approaches. in the first instance. The attempt is to provide a framework for thinking about the topic and also both to illustreite and to recreate some of the reasoning and working processes as an example of a particular way of approaching problems. only the recent past. At the same time. The test of any valid approach or model is. at once humanistic and scientific. although this review . to allow for generalizations than are possible if one considers only the more l~alid high-style tradition. and indeed grown. As usual. I emphasize the contemporary United States because it also seerrls important to consider the usefulness of this approach to the present. Since many were added in October 1989 (in the Epilogue). much has also been left out because details and examples can be multiplied endlessly. It is a subject that has concerned me on and off for a number of years..ity of studies that a particular approach can subsume is important. a large number of references were added in the Epilogue.which I see as a new discipline. I emphasize the role ol cultural variables and use examples from diverse cultures and periods. Although I have added new material. since then. precisely its ability to relate and bring together previously unrelated findings and facts. 1964) and in EBS more specifically. concerned with developing an explanatory theory of environment-behavior relations (ERR). as well as a variety of environments and sources. I approach the problem from the perspective of environmerrt-behavior studies (EBS).PREFACE After long neglect. In this book I use my own work and much other material to show how a particular set of ideas and a particular point of view can provide a framework that makes sense of a highly varied set of material:. Since both the number and the diver:. the subject of meaning in the built environment began to receive considerable attention when this book was completed in 1980. This interest has continued. the approach seems to be working as intended. How these intersect and become mutually relevant is important-both generally (Koestler. only the Western cultural tradition. and only the formal research literature.
This has implications for how to read this book. that mechanisms are being discovered that may explain how the processes that are postulated work. I suggest that the way of thinking described in this book is of interest in this connection. popular. I corrected a number of typographical errors and updated a few entries in the original bibliography. unlike other approaches to meaning. I approach the topic from the latter tradition. the ideas discussed in this book have been developing for some time. periods. Some minor revisions and bibliographic additions were made in mid-1982. Frequently it is the unforeseen and not always intuitively obvious relationships that are important. 1968a. and worked on it in my spare time until completion of the final draft in March 1980. furnishings.The School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee helped with the typing. It is also applicable cross-culturally and. and emphasize that it is significant more for how one thinks and what one considers than for specific information. and high-style) and topics (landscapes. began the manuscript in mid-1978. The specific formulation and basic argument. It can be read as a narrative. however. recent as it is. revealing its full complexity. in addition to preparing the Epilogue and the references for it. In October 1989. historically. vernacular. and contexts. I further developed this at a number of presentations at various universities between 1976 and 1978. 1977) and in the development of new fields. for example. clothing-even social behavior and the body itself). when data are available. describing the argument in concise form. They are frequently at the intersection of two or more previously unrelated disciplines-from social psychology and biochemistry to molecular biology. and EBS. It is also applicable to a wide range of environments (preliterate.10 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT of the literature also is neither systematic nor complete. as the Epilogue suggests. urban forms. Rapoport. Since the new references have not been integrated with the old. It also seems. As the dates of some of my earlier articles suggest. and any section can be expanded by following the references-or all the references could be followed to elaborate and expand the argument. buildings. sociobiology. . in the environment itself (see. both sets of references need to be used. were first stated very much in the form in which they appear here in an invited lecture at the Department of Architecture of the University of Washington in Seattle in November 1975. We may well be dealing with a process that is pancultural but in which the specifics are related to particular cultures. It is also of interest because it is relatively direct and simple.
that which addresses the nature of the mechanisms that link people and environments (see Rapoport. unself-conscious manner for other purposes. This is because it fits into the model even though it clearly was not intended to do so. illustrations. regularities. they must also make sense of a large variety of findings . newspaper reports. and advertisements. how they feel about them. travel tlescriptions. One can use observation of behavior. among many others. and other instruments. sets for film or television. Such material tends to show how people see environments. 1977: 1-4). stories. 1977). 1969b. one can analyze historical and crosscultural examples and trace patterns. o n e can use interviews. and which attitudes seem to be self-evident (see Rapoport. questionnaires. and makes a useful starting point for the argument. what they like or dislike about them. This book as a whole will discuss the nature of o n e such mechanism and suggest a specific approach useful in that analysis Within the framework of that approach a number o specific methods can be f used. and s o forth.THE IMPORTANCE OF MEANING In what ways and on what basis d o people react to environments? This is clearly an aspect of o n e of the three basic questions of manenvironment studies. songs. and constanc~es. One can also analyze written and pictorial material that has not been produced consciously to evaluate environments but in an unstructured. One of my earliest published articles is an example of this type of analysis. These may include. novels. Using it as a starting point reinforces one important princ:iplethat rnodels of environment-behavior interaction must not only allow findings to be cumulative and allow us to make predictions (at least eventually).
The low-hanging phosphorescent lights diffuse a n uncomfortably revealing glare upon the myriad of objects which. The room is a cluttered green box of institutional furniture lit by fluorescent lights and decorated with t o o many blotchily executed juvenile maps. in conglomerate dissaray. too American. surrounds a bleak space around which embryo ideas openly float. glaring white light. 1967a). T h e room is too clean. both at the University of California at Berkeley. The purpose of the problem set was a writing exercise without any instructions other than that the immediate reactions were to be given to whatever was being discussed. But several sets were written in classrooms that had no windows and thus used the built environment as their subject matter in the indirect way described above. multipurpose appearance. about the campus. and the Berkeley Hills. too large. the bare surgical-like atmosphere further encouraged by the plain. cluttered. These descriptions (as well as photographs of the three classrooms) are given in full elsewhere (Rapoport. In 1966 I came across several sets of comments by student teachers of English and by teachers of English participating in a summer institute. but what was also noticeable and contradictory to this musical. Some exercises were about apples and paintings. everything in it could be made of plastic. By student teachers of English (first-year graduate students): That the room was used for musical purposes was obvious from the piano in the corner. Writing was the essence of the problem-not the subject matter. each letting in a little of the outside. Here a selection will be given. gives the large room a close. utilitarian chairs and the harsh. too modern. thereby giving it the feeling of a pleasant though businesslike place in which to conduct class. music o n the walls and the various instruments haphazardly scattered about. sensual confusion was the operating-room green walls. The various bright colors found on the maps and charts hung on the walls appear in sharp contrast to the stark cool lines of the furniture of this room. long tables.12 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT and studies done over long periods of time. . in different disciplines and for different purposes. austere. Our claustrophobic triple hour seminar room contained by four perfect walls whose monotony is relieved by crude murals.
that room with its yellow-grey walls. flickering lights. a n d the bulletin board w h ~ ran the length of it. long silver and brown chairs and tables. the colcl grey steel cab~nets. The comments by a group of English teachers tended to be more uniformly and strongly negative. however. One might say that "environmenial evaluation. color. sterility. and it is largely affected by images and rdeals" (Rapoport. starkness. the reactions seem to stress monotony. and s o forth. In a recent study that does what I did for rooms above. Upon enteringthe doorway o n e must comment upon the tasteless array of greys. and furnishings. is more a matter o overall affective response f than of a detailed analysis of specific aspects. A selection follows: T h e rectangular room was clearly a stern example of functionalism. airconditioning hum.The Importance of Meaning 13 Other passages not included are purely descriptive or stress sterility. o n e might easily have forgotten how trapped o n e was. The meanings of environments It appears that people react to environments in terms of the meanings the environments have for them. light quality. The descriptions in both sets deal mostly with color. as well as indications that people use various environmental elements to identify the purpose of these rooms as well as their character and mood. What is of primary interest. 1977: 60). It wasvery long a n d grey. while others seem positive. all lit by narrow overhead lights which revealed h it a s a fit place t o spend s o many long grey hours. grey metal cabinets. peacefulness. then. in the present context. ascetic light fixtures and the s ~ m p l spare tables e and chairs-enlightened in a dull fashion by the blond fin~sh the cupof boards a n d closet-were a stern pronouncement of the threaten~ng creatlve sterdity of contemporary society. but at the scales of cities and through active . a boxed-in quality. emptiness. isolation from the wprld. it is more a matter of latent than of manifest function. The large and almost empty windowless room with its sturdy enclosing and barren walls inspired neither disgust nor liking. greens and browns which form an apparently purposeless airless chamber. Some can be interpreted as negative. is the heavy load of affective and meaning-laden terms used in these descriptions.
1978: 17). 1977: 50). student dormitories. and hence quiet. because of what they mean. cities. while containing descriptive and evaluative elements (which. This applies equally to classrooms. affective responses are based on the meaning that environments.). Meaning also gains in importance when it is realized that the concept of "function. 1979). (Although. in a recent study of the descriptions of the meaning of urban place in Britain. It can therefore be shown that people react to environments globally and affectively before they analyze them and evaluate them in more specific terms. in themselves. as we shall see.Thus trees are highly valued not least because they indicate high-quality areas and evoke rural associations. "What is the meaning of these rooms in terms of what they communicate about the attitudes of various actors in the design process. these meanings are partly a result of people's interaction with these environments. but we could also ask the question. wilderness areas. the images held of Phoenix and Tucson.) Thus it becomes extremely important to study such meanings. 1978). Arizona.14 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT probing. or housing forms. not only d o we find this happening. and particular aspects of them. unhealthy. housing. the university as client. and hence smoky. stress affective aspects and associations (Jackovics and Saarinen. have for people. In that case. T o give just one recent example-affect is most important in the interpersonal relations involved in health care (Di Matteo. clearly have meaning for people). places considered to be industrial. which are then fitted t o the material." so important in the modern movement. since affect is read on the basis of the nonverbal messages projected by the actors. Material objects first arouse a feeling that provides a background for more specific images. clearly. In Britain. dark. and dirty are disliked. This. "and in the case of environments affective images play the major role in decisions" (Rapoport.d. places with a rural character. Similarly. It is a basic argument of this book that these global. n. most responses consisted of affective words (Burgess. is an issue of great importance for my argument. and gentle. are liked (Burgess. and s o on?" In all these cases the initial affective and global response governs the direction that subsequent interactions with the environment will take. goes far . the findings are very similar and some of the phrases even echo those above. and so on. This also seems to apply to things other than environments. In the example of the rooms with which I began. Thus the whole concept of environmental quality is clearly an aspect of this-people like certain urban areas. healthy. recreation areas.
and s o on. (2) the specific way o doing it. their preferences. This suggests that meaning is not something apart from function. When latent aspects of functions are considered. In fact. buildings. even to food (see Douglas and Isherwood. streets.3. to consumption. and schemata. ranging from the concrete object through use object. and (4) the meaning o the activity. or associated activities that become part o the f activity system. and that built forms. the differential success of various designs. neighborhoods. value object to symbolic object (Gibson. 1979b). in establishing group identity (Rapoport. gardens. and judgments of environmental quality. 1981). acceptability. so that the physical environment-clothes. 1968. f It is thevariability of 2. categories. that is. furnishings. partly because their . Note that this typology relates in an interesting way to the hierarchy of levels of meaning. 1979).The Importance of Meaning 15 beyond purely instrumental or manifest functions. 1977). 1976a. 1979a. 1976b. f (3) additional. 1978a). they can be decoded if and when they match people's schemata. This importance of meaning can also f be argued on the basis o the view that the human mind basically works by trying to impose meaning on the world through the use of cognitive taxonomies. and so on-is used in the presentation of self. are physical expressions of these schemata and domains (Rapoport. Users' meanings and designers' meanings One of the hallmarks of man-environment research is the realization that designers and users are very different in their reactions to environments. Any activity can be analyzed into four components: (1) the activity proper. 1 9 5 0 . like other aspects of material culture. the meaning aspects of the environment are critical and central. but is itself a most important aspect of function.a n d 4 that leads to differences in form. This gains in importance when it is realized that latent aspects of function may be the most important. and that this applies to economics. and in the enculturation of children (Rapoport.see also Rapoport. they also have meaning. adjacent. it is quickly realized that meaning is central to an understanding of how environments work. to all artifacts and social possessions. Physical elements not only make visible and stable cultural categories.
railings. I would argue. Ruscitto and Barovetto): bay windows. classical doorways. the decorative handles. not architects' or critics'. shingles on the roof. incidentally. have their porches removed (although they are part of the style) and shutters added (although they are not). and other elements." A similar phenomenon is the use of the then-new material aluminum in an advertisement by Reynolds Aluminum (Time. and many others). Delaware. This advertisement shows 49 uses of aluminum and the many ways in which this new metal can provide "handsome classic columns in front." siding. Note also the front doors. is the presence of elements that remove the "stigma of being a council tenant" (Hillman. the whole current "neovernacular.16 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT schematavay. 1979). the recently completed Victoria Mews in San Francisco (by Barovetto. 1979. brackets. It is these stylistic elements that help communicate the appropriate meanings. In fact. the gas lamp on the lawn. the total image. 1967a) to reproduce "colonial" elements (see Figure 1). not famous buildings-historical or modern (see Bonta. 1967b: 34)-it means"home. local elements in new housing. The basic arrangement itself. the landscaping. is traditional to an extreme degree. the two welcome mats. panels. where people were said to prefer and to be buying private houses that were of lower standard than public housing." and "postmodernist" movements can be seen in these terms. the overall shape-even construction techniques of nineteenth-century houses (Architectural Record. the most striking elements that seem to removethe stigma are the small-paned windows. The meaning of "desirable old house" matches the schema "colonial. 1980." "historicist. latent rather than instrumental or manifest functions seem dominant. Similar elements seem to be involved in the case of low-cost housing in Britain. Jencks. One reason was ownership itself. it is the meaning of everyday environments. and small front yards with low fences (see Figure 2). shutters. 1976). although . If we look at such housing (which. Also. It is thus users' meaning that is important. costs less to build than public housing) in Southport. In this case we find the use of traditional. clearly." This also helps explain the use of imitation American colonial furniture in the NASA lunar reception building in Houston (Time. and so on. It is users' meanings that explain why nineteenth-century houses being restored in Wilmington. another. Comparable kinds of elements are found in much more expensive housing in the United States.
The Importance of Meaning 17 Figure 1 these also represent designers' rather than users' meanings so that the elements used may not necessarily communicate (see Groat. Groat and Canter. .merits use. or their context. the nature of the relationships among them. the excessively subtle and idiosyncratic nature of the elcused.This may be because of their metaphorical . 1979. 1979).
these are related to. In the perceptual realm. not in objects or things (see also Bonta. led to a neglect of the fuzzy. the question is how they elicit or activate these meanings and guide them and. physical (and other) environmental characteristics. 1979). Yet. Perceptual and associational aspects of the enuironment To use a distinction between perceptual and associational aspects of the environment (see Rapoport. 1977: ch. for the moment. 1976. at least in their early days. the development of man-environment studies. in fact. 1977).This was designed in perceptual terms by the architect. This lack of communication of meaning supports the view that meanings are in people. see Figure 3). the question is how (and. A recent example o this is Hertzberger's f old people's home in Amsterdam (Architectural Review." to apply positivistic approaches. whereas thelay public. perceptual aspects have been stressed One could argue further that the differential reactions of designers and the lay public to environments can be interpreted in thesc terms: Designers tend to react to environments in perceptual terms (which are theirmeaninys). that physical elements of the environment do encode information that people decode. These characteristics can. 1977: ch. the actual physical elements guide and channel these responses. and evoked by. the experience of complexity is subjective. Put differently. An analogous situation occurs in other domains.The Importance of Meaning 19 which may be inappropriate-or neglected. but . Ironically. in spite of the apparent importance of meaning-and particularly users' meaning-it is fair to say that the meaning aspect of the environment has been neglected in the recent past-particularly users' meaning has been neglectedand continues to be neglected (see Jencks. Thus while one speaks of crowding or stress as being subjective reactions. 4). The attempt to be "scientific.one could argue that in man-environment research. which things or objects " w o r k best. while people filter this information and interpret it. thus. be specified and designed (see Rapoport. but clearly environments possess certain characteristics that produce the experience of complexity much more reliably and unequivocally than others. whether) meanings can be encoded in things in such a way that they can be decoded by the intended users. "soft" aspects of the environment such as meaning. 6).However things d o elicit meanrngs. led to an even greater neglect. In effect. of course. react to environments in associational terms. I assume. the users.
No 448. my article (Rapoport. as having highly negative associations. 1969). In 1967. C7 L r X . that is. particularly since both designers and users are far from homogeneous groups. Both the special issue and the book stressed architects'meaning. VOL BY CLE~=BGRC. in revised form. who saw the white frame and black infill elements in terms of crosses and coffins. FEB 1 76) 9 ~ Figure 3 0 Fe-r o was evaluated in associational terms by the users. The argument of this book hinges on this distinc- . One thus needs to ask whose meaning is being considered.20 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT kwbd OL-* 760fCE\S HOME . 1967b) questioned that focus and proposed that users' meaning was the more important. AY q e a m ~WSGJW . as an early book on meaning from a semiotic perspective (Jencks and Baird. even if one accepts the importance of meaning.I wrote an article o n meaning that was to have appeared as part of a special issue of the Architectural Association Journal that was laterpublished. Thus. one still needs to ask which group we are discussing.ZR LW 0fi P M ~ o ~ A p uli0 5 wm UEVlEd.
completing it. that is. or the public or. particularly if it is a single meaning. or plants in order to preserve an overall aesthetic ideal. furnishings. like the environments that communicate them. They tried to bring i r ~ own objects. since meanings. plants. It relies on accounts in the nonprofessional press (newspapers and magazines). I argued. colors. and conflicts generated by the designers' prohibition of the use of any personal objectsor manipulation of furniture. and the like to be compatible with the building. resistance. or at least for the cognoscenti. opposition. The question that must be addressed is: What meaning does the built environment have for the inhabitants and the users." to avoid having "things thrown all over" and"haphazard things all overthe walls" thus turningthe building into aUwallto wall slum" (Rapoport 1967b: 44). The newspaper and magazine accounts stressed this element of conflict between users and the designers representing the company (and. The users their saw things rather differently and resisted. to safeguard the building as a "harmonious environment. which is far from certain) may be inappropriate. Some even brought suit against the company I knew some people in the Columbia Records Division who fought these attempts at control-and wort. the various publics. From that point of view the meaning designed into an environment (even if it can be read. since the universes of discourse of designers and the public tend to be quite different. is that we tend to overdesign buildings and other environments. to have family photographs on desks. to introduce their own plants. The nonprofessional accounts recount the dissent. more correctly. The company and its designers wished to preserve uniformity. one might suggest. are culture specific and hence culturally variable? The point made is that the meaning of many environrnents is generated through personalization-through taking possession. to communicate a particular meaning. what has generally been considered is the meaning environments have for architects. In that case . those in the know. The published material stresses the dissatisfaction of users with "total design" as opposed to the lavish praise this idea had received in the professional press.The Importance of Meaning 21 tion.An aesthetician was put in charge to choose art. to put up pictures and calendars. What is wrong. That argument was based on a case study of a single major building (Saarinen's CBS building) as an exemplar (although reference was made to several other cases). the critics. The basic question-meaning for WHOM?-continues to distinguish the present work from most work on meaning. 1967b). changing it. see Rapoport. their own values." They wanted to prevent a "kewpie doll atmosphere.
issue having to d o with the nature of design-of unstable equilibrium that cannot tolerate change (typical of high-style design) as opposed to the stable equilibrium typical of vernacular design. First. 1 9 7 7 . in in- . The question then becomes how o n e can design "frameworks" that make this possible-but that is a different topic. and that meant a cluttered. in defining front and back. on "what-nots" in dwellings and "thingamabobs" in the garden. giving meaning becomes particularly important because o the emotional. This then leads to a conclusion related to the need for underdesign rather than overdesign. 1969c. "In the case of housing. Two things seem clear from the above. on decoration. which is partly and importantly in terms of the ability of users to communicate particular meanings through personalization. of loose fit as opposed to tight fit. that architects generally have tended to be opposed strongly to this concept. Such changes seemed important in establishing and expressing priorities. highly personalized environment.22 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT they saw the environment they wished as communicating that they were creative people. changeable. as well as the process of incorporating these elements into the environment. although related. with movable elements rather than with architectural elements. 1968a: 300). personal and symbolic f connotation of the house and the primacy of these aspects in shaping its form as well as the important psycho-social consequences of the house" (Rapoport. by using objects and other environmental elements in order to transform environments s o that they might communicate different meanings particular to various individuals and groups. and the like. the whole modern movement in architecture can be seen as an attack on users' meaning-the attack on ornaments. ethnic and other group identity. 1981). that much of the meaning has to do with personalization and hence perceived control. This implied a setting that communicated that message. status.In the study just cited. where users' meaning is clearly much more central and where the affective component generally can be expected to be much more significant. Second. and open-ended (Rapoport. This argument can be applied with even greater strength to housing. The argument in the article then shifts to a different. This conflict described in the journalistic accounts can be interpreted in terms of a single designers' meaning conflicting with the various meanings of users. in fact. artists. which is additive. with decoration. many examples were given showing the importance of personalization and changes as ways of establishing and expressing meaning.
sibilityof making changes. It is in this sense that the discussion of open-endedness in housing is related to issues such as the importance of meaning. arranged differently. in any given case. it was further suggested. as opposed to space organization as such. that is. objects. colors. it was argued that when flexibility and open-endedness were considered by designers it tended to be at the level of instrumental functions (what I would now call "manifest" functions) rather than at the level of expression (latent functions). taken specifically for this article. although that could be important by allowing specific elements to change. This would then provide two important related pieces of information. First. In other words. this would then define the less important. that is. need to be changeable by the users in order to establish and express important meanings. and the high degree of consistency. and housing in Britain over a period of 10 years was evaluated in these terms. The very definition of frameworks. showed the importance of the po5. An example is square rooms. it could reveal "which elements. the distinction between designers' meaning and users' meanings. which changes achieve personalization and what different individuals and groups understand by this term. high levels of control over the total environment (Rapoport.The Importance of Meaning 23 dicating degrees of privacy. and it was argued that not only were designers opposed to open-endedness and seeking total control over the housing environment. the high degree of integration. award juries praised the use of few materials. plants. its variability among groups. Thus. This argument also reiterated and stressed the importance of decorative elements. and the like. experimental. elements that could constitute the "frameworks" to be designed. A series of photographs of housing in London. which allow many arrangements of furniture that long narrow rooms make impossible. It was also suggested that different elements. could be based on an analysis of various forms of expression in different situations. furniture and its arrangement. they seemed systematically to block various forms of expression available t o users until none were left. or unimportant. Second. A number of theoretical. for example. might be significant and important to various groups and that this relative importance could be studied. Finally. over meaning. that is. HOWthen could frameworks be defined? There may be constant f needs common to humans as a species and a great range o different cultural expressions that change at a relatively slow rate. furnishings. There are . materials. designers-even when I hey stressed physical flexibility-seemed strongly to resist giving up control over expression. 1968a: 303). and case studies were cited.
particularly in the vernacular tradition." "disrupts inside-outside flow of the facade. and styles. and s o on. they also consist of adding porches. as well as the meaning implicit in the process of change and personalization itself. and changeable parts may be relatively few in number. Note that none of the changes are for practical or instrumental functions: arches in the hallway. These are. pitched or hipped tile roofs. . all researchable questions (Rapoport. 1975). and s o on. a fireplace with historical associations. In the case of Le Corbusier's houses at Pessac (Boudon. what degree of open-endedness is needed. and hence which areas and elements need changeability. chimneys. Other possible ways are in terms of the importance of the meaning attached to various elements. can be interpreted in similar terms. A set of changes and additions were made to Chermayeff's house at Bentley Wood." loss of "simple. Frameworks could then possibly be defined in terms of the relative rate of change based on an analysis of past examples. in addition to a set of design implications and guidelines that d o not concern us here. an elaborate front door with decorative door handles. sense of equilibrium. understated entrance" f (Knobel. For example. 1969). a doric entry portico. "softening" garden landscaping. these changes were described as a "tragedy" (Knobel. All of the changes have to do with the meanings of elements that indicate home.The last criticism is particularly interesting in view of the historically and cross-culturally pervasive tradition of emphasizing entry. The changes documented in the cases of other modern houses. that they are not only natural but essential to the way in which people most commonly (although not universally) establish meaning. what is actually regarded as personalization. elaborate wallpapers." "no longer as strong a sense of the openness o the house. fads.24 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT also rapidly changing fashions. not as large or lavish. These are all clearly associational elements. in the case of some of Martienssen's houses in South Africa (Herbert. It may be found that few areas are critical. at any rate. a decorative rose trellis. 1979). 1979: 3 11).one finds . Consider a recent example that both stresses this latter point and shows continued refusal by designers to accept this process. The criticism of these changes reflects different schemata and is couched in typically perceptual terms: "destroyed. The result of this argument. 1968a: 305). . is that changes in expression by personalization may be more important than changes made for practical or instrumental functions.
1 9 7 1 . The meaning underlying such changes becomes clear in a recent detective novel in which the whole plot hinges on a modern house built by an architect Other residents are upset. how these meanings are construed and what these meanings communicate. hardly any windows generally. a locus of everyday behavior and base of activity. It contrasts with other houses such as a barn-red. "Put in windows. nine dimensions of home.The Importance of Meaning 25 pitched roofs. social networks. porches. as opposed to "good normal homes" (Crowe. Feelings run high: "Two orange crates would look better" (Crowe. maybe a porch and a peaked shake roof. chimneys. shutters. However. 1979: 4). Thitj is clearly related to a schema. flower boxes. and want it pulled down and a "regular" house built. 1979: 5). including relationships with others. finally. a place of stability and continuity. the neglect of meaning in environmental design research is beginning to ." The neighbors see it as crazy ideas. 1 9 7 8 . traditional facades. shelter and physical structure. and. Hayward (1978)discovered. indivi tion of facades. 1979: 12). the fact that most of these have to d o with meanings and associations is most significant. small rtxtangular windows instead of horizontal bands. to the concept of a house." without windows it looks like a tomb.The materials are "junk. and the like. hedges. a personalized place. What is a "good. Paint it white. and many of these involve meaning and associational elements as central. white-trimmed ranchhouse on an immaculate lawn bordered by neat flower beds Not only is it seen as an eyesore threatening the neighborhood and an insult. arnong young people in Manhattan. for example as Bachelard (1969) suggests. I-add. 'There are many ways of defining it (Rapoport. the house has a 78-foot long blank wall of rough reddish boards. Given the population and locale. and it is composed of two cubes. partly as a result of considerations such as the above. landscape heavily and it wouldn't look that different from an ordinary two storey house" (Crowe. and a flat roof. 1980a). a childhood home and place of upbringing. 1979: 7). since one may ~ x p e cthese to be stronger among other populations and in other t 1ocalc:s (see Cooper. a place of privacy and refuge. 1976) One may suggest that an important component of the associational realm is precisely the meaning the environment has for people. statement of self-identity.It's nothing but "damned cubes" and "boxes. "It's not: even a house! You can't call that thing a house! I'm damned if 1 know what you could call it" (Crowe. normal home" or "regular house"? The modifications they would accept define it.
or Maori buildings are evaluated in terms of their "beauty. the central role of subjective factors. It should be noted that perceptual and associational aspects are linked: The former is a necessary condition for the latter. It is therefore interesting to note that among Australian Aborigines meanings of place are frequently stronger and clearer in locales where there are striking and noticeable environmental features (Rapoport. of its central importance. they depend on theirmeaning. even if it does not make explicit. Before any meaning can be derived. which are partly due to repeated and consistent use and enculturation interacting with any pan-cultural and biological." their aesthetic quality. the increasing interest in meaning is due to the overwhelming and inescapable evidence. 1980b). the North West Coast Indian Dwellings and "Totem poles. having to do with significance. Sepik River Haus Tambaran in New Guinea.Thus while the meaning of place is associational. that is. (1) When "primitive" art and. many of which are based on the associations and meanings that particular aspects of environments have for people. 1978b). or environmental quality implies. Consider just a few examples. 1975a). These differences are needed and are useful for associations to develop. particularly." Yoruba or Nubian dwellings. 1975b. noticeable differences (Rapoport. 1979a). For example. Yet these decorations are significant and meaningful-their primary purpose is associational . 1977: ch. buildings of preliterate cultures are considered.leads to the inescapable conclusion that all stimuli are mediated via"symbolic" interpretation. cues must be noticed.26 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT change. The variability of standards. species-specific constancies that may exist (see Rapoport. noticeable differences help identify places and act as mnemonics (Rapoport. The growing concern about perceived crowding. and s o on. that is. 1972) and the subjective effects of stress (Rapoport. the effects they have on people. so that meaning becomes a most important variable in our understanding of the environment. 4) are a necessary precondition for the derivation of meaning. from many cultures and periods. If we wish to be more "scientific" we may evaluate their elaborate decorations perceptually and argue that they create a richerand more complex environment. density. even the subjectivity of pain (Rapoport and Watson. however. preferences for various environments and choices among them. In any case. crime. they are generally considered perceptually.
smell. and so on-was for the prlrpose of achieving a meaning. Sopher. Of course. color. Rapoport. 1979b). Cambodia (Giteau. Thus in order to understand "primitive" and vernacular environments. in the case of India. 1979b). we must consider the meanings they had for their users (Rapoport. 1979b. (2) I have previously referred t o the Mosque courtyard in Isphahan as an example of complexity and s e n s o y opulence in the perceptual realm (Rapoport. 1964. for example. scale. Yet the purpose of this remarkable manipulation of the full potential range of perceptual variables in all sensory modalities-color. and other elements of material culture. kinesthetics. temperature. it has been shown that all traditional built environments are basically related to meaning that (as in that o most traditional cultures) is sacred meaning. which designers have tended to evaluate in perceptual terms-space. This. China (Wheatley. an associational goal. 1977: 188. 1974. 1976). other traditional settlements are only comprehensible in terms of their sacred meanings. villages." so that cosmology is the divine model for structuring space-cities. of course. temples. 239). in the perceptual realm. Even the space organization of such buildings and their relations to the larger environment (the house-settlement system) have meaning and operate in the associational as well as. sound. 1969. A similar problem arises with the medieval cathedral. light. both in terms of the characteristics imputed to that place and in terms of the contrast with the characteristics of the surrounding urban fabric. 1979a. Ghosh and Mago. and many others (see Rapoport. materials. ancient Rome (Rykwert. The full appreciation and evaluation of the quality and success o that design depends f o n an understanding of its meaning and the way in which perceptual variables are used to achieve and communicate it. 1961). Architecture is f best understood as a "symbolic technology". the "science of the dwelling of the gods. it is described as vastuvidya.The Importance of Meaning 27 in that they communicate complex meanings. 1971). or more than. 1976). For example. structure-yet the main significance of which a t the tirne was in its . medieval Europe (Muller. 1980b). light and shade. and houses (Lannoy. body decorations. 1971. clothing. makes their real complexity greater still-their complexity is both perceptual and associational. This also applies to jewely. That goal was to give a vision or foretaste of paradise. 1964-1965.
1969e). Hence also the possibility. and so forth-even to pain. In many traditional cultures sacred schemata and meanings are the most important ones. in the United States and Mexico. but the principal point is that historical high-style examples. as well as the preliterate examples described in point 1above. Many more examples could be given. made with great force for a whole generation of architects and architectural students in connection with Renaissance churches. Regarding urban space. and cities in those cultures can be understood only in such terms. Hence the differential impact of past or future orientation on English as opposed to U.Unfortunately. . light. Urban Space. The reason. and the result. Sociocultural schemata are the primay determinants of form even on those scales and in turn affect the images and schemata that mediate between environments and people. in New England and the Virginias in the United States. 1953). it follows that meaning must play an important role in mediating between the stimulus properties of the environment and human responses to it (Rapoport. 1962).S. Wittkower's (1962) point about Rennaissance churches is applicable not only to various high-style buildings. recreation. of course. is that images and schemata play a major role in the interpretation of the stimulus properties of the environment. This point was." egalitarianism. to be in the perceptual realm-but to be important sources of meanings and associations expressing important ideas of neoplatonic philosophy (Wittkower. when they were shown not to be based on purely "aesthetic" consideration-that is. landscapes and cities. even though its significance seems clear for various types of environments. but also to space organization on a larger scaleregions and cities (or. or material well-being may be the values expressed in schemata and hence are reflected in the organization of urban environmerits. Urban form (and whole landscapes) can thus be interpreted.28 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT meaning as a sacred symbol and summa theologica-a fortn of encyclopedia of theological meaning (see von Simson. must be evaluated in terms of the meanings they had for their designers and users a t the time of their creation. settlements).This applies not only to built environments but to standards for temperature. "humanism. Hence the widely differing nature of settlements and cultural landscapes in Spanish and Portuguese South America. sound. Consider two such types-urban space and vernacular design. In other cultures health. more generally. it can be pointed out that since sociocultural determinants are the primay (although not the sole) determinants of such organizations. the lesson seems to have been soon forgotten.
although clearly the specifics vary. for example. 1 9 7 9 b . rivers. 1969e: 131-135). VernacularDesign. reinforced. I would just add that further work has only strengthened. that is. In the case of preliterate andvernacular design similar points need to be made. Commonly such buildings have been assumed to be part of the high-style tradition and have been studied as high-style elements contrasting with the matrix made up of vernacular elements around them.The Importance of Meaning 29 over long time periods. of discussing the city as an ideal. This also explains the different role of cities in various cultures. in other words. Among the latter. the very distinction between vernacular and high-style design is partly a matter of the meaning attached to the two types of design (see Rapoport. forthcoming a). 1976a. waterholes-or sacred built environments of some sort. 1979c. among vernacular buildings there are . which elements are needed before a settlement can be accepted as a city. a vehicle for expressing complex meanings. Yet even among the vernacular buildings themselves it can be shown that. 1 9 7 7 . sacred buildings or shrines have been important carriers of particular kinds of meanings-although not the only ones. In fact. among vernacular buildings o n e finds cues that indicate that there are buildings having differing degrees of importance or sanctity.Wlthout elaborating these points any further. groves. since it is the sacred that gives meaning to most things. one can hardly understand such buildings or the larger systems of which they form a part without considering meaning. and elaborated these arguments about the primacy of meaning in the understanding of settlement form (see Kapoport. what varies is the specific meaning or schema emphasized or the elements used to comrnunicate this meaning (Rapoport 1969e: 128-131). This also helps explain the transplanting of urban forms by colonial powers as well as by various immigrant groups. between sacred and profane is far less marked than in contemporary situations. The centrality of schemata and images encoded in settlements and bearing meaning is constant. Second. first. and the very definition of a city. and so on). hills. trees. from Plato through Botero to the Utopian cities of our own day. the presence or absence of civic pride. the varying urban hierarchies. In the case of traditional vernac:ular tile distinction. rocks. Similar concerns influence the way in which urban plans are made-and whether they are then accepted or rejectedand also the differences among planners in different cultures qnd at different periods as well as the differences between planners and various groups of users (Rapoport. Yet even in those situations there were areas of special sanctity-landscapes. meaning plays a most important role.
houses must not be too different-a modern house in an area of traditional houses is seen as an aesthetic intrusion. decoration (or its absence). (4) In evaluating student halls of residence. 1980b. At the same time. This is because the models used in the design of such buildings and the elements used t o communicate tend to be very widely shared and hence easily understood. 1979a. An environment may no longer be a model of the universe-as a Navaho hogan or Dogon dwelling or village are-but it still reflects meanings and associations that are central. 1970). the general image. 1977). as for urban space. it seems clear that later work has greatly strengthened. 1978c. or many other cues (Rapoport. 1977. 1981). the associations . but the aesthetic conflict mainly has to d o both with the meaning of style and with the deviation from the norm. 1968b). it may be size. This also applies to excessive uniformity. reinforced.that is. Such cues can consist of any form of differentiation that marks the buildings in question as being in some way distinctive. degree of modernity or degree of archaism. and so on). it was found that overall satisfaction was relatively independent of satisfaction with specific architectural features and had to do more with the character and feel of the building. the cues that communicate these varying degrees of importance or sanctity among vernacular designs tend to be rather subtle. and elaborated these arguments about the importance of meaning(see Rapoport.S. it may be the absence ofwhitewash-where they are not whitewashed. 1968b). and even explains particular perceptual features (see Rapoport. 1969c. 1975a. status. it may be the use of whitewash. 1981. suburbs. It is the meaning of the subtle differences within an accepted system that is important in communicating group identity. shape.1978a.30 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT sacred buildings. Where buildings are colored it may be the absence of color-where they are not. In the case of vernacular design. although they d o differ from the corresponding highstyle equivalents (Rapoport. as in one legal suit that argued that a particular house was too similar to the one next door (Milwaukee Journal. see Figure4). (3) In U. 1976b. when other buildings are whitewashed. 1969c. and other associational aspects of the environment while accepting the prevailing norms (see Rapoport. The importance of associational aspects continues in our own culture-even if the specific variables involved may have changed. the use of color. 1973. and its positive or negative symbolic aspects or meanings (Davis and Roizen.
later in the same interview. complaining that washing hung out on the line got dirty because of the dirt in the air. particularly high-rise apartments. detached single-family dwellings. whereas the residents wish t o live in homogeneous areas (New Jersey County and Municipal Government Study Commission. They are seen as negative. Clearly it was the meaning of the space around the house that was important and that was expressed in terms of the image of "clean air" (Raymond et al. of course.. 1977). as symbols of undesirable people. they are seen as a sign of growth. Yet. The commission studying this problem. it was found that the reasons given were based on economic criteria. government people. that this book addresses (at least in principle) is which physical elements in the environment will tend to communicate that character or image defined as "institutional" by particular user groups. destroys this rural self-image. 1966. finished up by discussing perceptions and meanings." The important question. for example.Two interesting. political scientists. respondents saw no contradiction in saying they preferred such dwellings because they provided "clean air" and. compare Cowburn. and so on. Many other examples could be cited and can be found in the literature (for example. The obtrusiveness of apartments. (5) In a large study in France of reasons for the preference for small. whereas suburban areas wish to maintain an image that is rural. But there is an important more general and theoretical argument that also stresses the importance of meaning-this has to d o with the distinction already intro- . 1966).32 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT it had for students. they cost more in services needed than they brought in in taxes. which seemed to be related mainly to the notion of "institutional character. particular mixes of housing could be advantageous fiscally. 1974). The perception of these dwelling forms as bad had to d o with their meaning. consisting of economists. in fact. as indicating a heterogeneous population. and most important questions concern the minimum space necessary for the meaning of "detached" to persist and the possibility of other elements communicating meanings that are adequate substitutes (see Figure 5). see Rapoport. it is the meaning of particular building types that influences policy decisions. Also. people moved to suburbs to flee the city and its problems-they see the apartments as tentacles of the city that they fled and that is pursuing them. In other words. particularly high-rise apartments. The meanings of these buildings are also seen as reflecting social evils. (6) In a recent major study of the resistance of suburban areas in New Jersey to multifamily housing.
It appears that the meaning is of act~vities their most important characteristic. Rapoport. more specifically. FIG 27) Figure 5 -- D( duced between manifest and latent functions and. 1968. corresponding to the finding that symbolic aspects are the most important in the sequence of concrete object. . meaning becomes very critical.The Importance of Meaning 33 h. 1950. even in "functionalist" terms. associated activities. symbolic object (Gibson. use object.11 LWAU NA~W' L 3-5 Fr. how the activity is done. 1977). and the meanings of the activity. Thus. the distinctions among a n activity. value object.
are evaluated in terms of the purposes of settings and how they match particular schemata related to particular lifestyles and hence. not used in a manifest or instrumental sense-they communicate meanings of positive environmental quality of the areas in which they are located (Rapoport. lower perceived density). rather than forawalking around. 1977).34 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT T o use an urban example of this (to be elaborated later). Meaning generally. . Their very presence is significant. and specifically users' meaning.This is clearly the reason for the importance of recreational facilities-which are desired by the majority but are used by very few (Eichler and Kaplan. Similarly.and so on. one finds that parks have important meaning in the urban environment. Rapoport. 1967: 1 1 4 . has tended to be neglected in the study of man-environment interaction. they are not s o used (see Foddy. yet it is of central importance to the success of such a study. But the principal point has been made. while most people express a need for common the public open space in residential areas. Such meanings." "using for recreation." "increase the space between units" (that is. it is because theseUincrease attractiveness. 1977: 52-53). like most others. culture. They all have the latent function of acting as social and cultural markers. 1977). ultimately. so that even if they are empty-that is." and so on-in fact.
also. Tuan. 1978). However. Moreover. this concept has not been used in environmental research. more generally. 1 9 7 7 .However. In anthropology one finds the development of symbolic anthropology so that the "idea of meaning. Without reviewing the large and complex literature. and symbols (which influence thought. with the growth of interest in phenomenology and"placeU (seeTuan. 1 9 7 4 . proposed that the human world can be studied in terms of signs (which guide behavior). the study of meaning is reviving and has been approached.lphor(see Fernandez. affective signs (which elicit feelings). to give just one example. . in terms of the discussion in Chapter 1. In psychology.the first two of these can certainly be combined. through the concept of "affordance" (Gibson. Most used has been the semantic differential (Osgood et a1 . there is also an interest in the study of met. for example. a few examples can be given. in any case.which deals with all the potential uses of objects and the activities they can afford.the development of structuralism. the third will be discussed shortly in a broader context. 1974) and. Meaning is also becoming more important in geography. . the potential uses of objects are rather extensive. 1976). . 1976: vii).It IS.THE STUDY OF MEANING There is increasing interest in the study of meaning in a number of disciplines. . 1977). These are closely related to culture.Relph. and the question still remains: Which characteristics of environments suggest potential uses? Meaning has also been approached through particular methodologies. the notion of meaning in terms of potential uses is rather ambiguous. yet that is neglected. particularly once one leaves the purely instrumental and manifest aspects and includes the latent ones. provides an effective rallying point for much that is new and exciting in anthropology" (Basso and Selby.
1973. the most direct. it is very difficult to study meaning in other cultures. From a more theoretical perspective. reasons that will emerge gradually as the subject is explored.' It is the third of these on which I will be concentrating. and where. More recently. Let me begin by discussing. The widespread use of the semiotic approach makes it less important to review it again (see Duffy and Freedman. 1970-1971. psychology. all possible cultures. although related. There are also some other. Barthes. these methodologies are partly independent of particular theoretical orientations of how environments and meaning are related. based on personal construct theory (Kelly. very briefly indeed. This is partly because these models are the simplest. to use already published material-all important in the development of valid design theory.36 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1957). 1969. and the most immediate and they lend themselves to observation and inference as well as to relatively easy interpretation of many other studies. 1970-1971. (2) Relying on the study of symbols. 1975. who can d o it. some of the problems presented by the first two ways of studying environmental meaning before turning to a preliminary. one finds the related but competing use of the repertory grid. These are currently the most common. These.which has spawned a great number of environmental research efforts. .These have been least used in studying environmental meaning. Bonta. one could justify exploring others due to their much less common use. The semiotic approach Even if o n e were not critical of this approach. all accessible periods. For example. Such theory clearly must be based on the broadest possible sample in space and time: on all forms of environments. limit the kind of work that can be done. it would appear that environmental meaning can be studied in at least three major ways: (1) Using semiotic models. and ethnology. to use evidence from the past. 1970. and then more detailed. These are the most "traditional. 1979. Jencks and Baird. discussion of the third. mainly based on linguistics. Moreover. 1970. beingl'experimental" in nature. Choay. 1955)." (3) Using models based on nonverbal communication that come from anthropology.
One such problem with semiotic analysis. Yet I he use of semiotics in the study of environmental meaning can be criticized. 1977. which makes much of it virtually unreadable. which is a particular case of the use of linguistic models more generally. Krampen. 1980). as we shall see below. 1 9 7 3 [although Walli: actually overlaps the semiotic and symbolic approaches. cognitive psychology. 1979) would do as well without those theoretical underpinnings. 1980. Groat. such as cognitive anthropology. Ronta. Greimas et al. 1 9 7 6 . its "very complex technical jargon" andG'its terminology usually s o complicated that it is totally beyond the grasp of the uninitiated and apparently becoming more so'' so that it is "hopelessly unintelligible" (da Kocha Filho. 19'70.I 'f'lcation) is done better by other approaches.. is the extremely high level of abstraction and the rather difficult and esoteric vocabulary full of neologisms. 1979. (This. stressin2 the latter]. Rroadbent. 19741). Moreover. nor does it relate to. at the moment their usefulness is extremely limited and their use may even create problems. Jencks.) While in the long run such linguistic models may prove extremely powerful and possibly even useful. 1976. semiotic theory. Bonta. have also had great difficulty with them.The Study of Meaning 37 Preziosi. and many others [see also the International Bibliography on Semiotics. there has been little apparent advance since its use began (see Broadbent et a!. 1979). 1 9 7 2 . It also weakens the applicability of the struct~~ralist model when one tries to apply it to the built environment. I must confess that I personally find these aspects of semiotic analysis extremely difficult to understand and even more difficult to use..it does not really need. Eco. ethnoscience. if everything can be a sign. Wallis. For one thing. Another criticism is that even when interesting empirical work on meaning is done apparently within the semiotic tradition (for example. Moreover. Dunster. 1977. Sebeok. 1979. is also the problem with symbols. Similarly. and most students. and some potentially hopeful examples can be found (Preziosi. in that case much of what that theory is meant to d o (such as clas:. 1973. Thus a recent graduate thesis on rneaning by a mature student who was a faculty member referred to the "rigid theoretical framework of semiotics. other promising studies of meaning apparently within the semiotic tradition (for instance. While this may be a personal failing. 19-79).. then the study o signs bef comes so broad as to become trivial. 1979. Preziosi. 1979. 1977a. 1979)--and this was . and so on. I have found that many other researchers and practitioners. Broadbent et al.
that is. sociocultural qualities encoded into environmental elements. and hierarchies (see o n e review in Firth." and hence that semiotics is the study of signs. meaning has been regarded as a relatively unimportant. characteristics. would seem to be pre- . signal. Generally. and symbol as opposed to sign. and their definitions. This resistance will be compounded by the evident difficulty of applying semioticsclear examples of actual environments and their analysis in reasonably straightfoward terms tend to be singularly lacking. Semiotics. then semiotics contains three main components: the sign vehicle (what acts as a sign) the designation (to what the sign refers) the interpretant (the effect on the interpreter by virtue of which a thing is a sign) This formulation ignores many complex and subtle arguments about index. As a result. as those associational. that is. this. these. If we accept the view that semiosis is the "process by which something functions as a sign. help us both in understanding some of the problems with semiotics and in taking us further. Yet meaning. can also be understood as comprising three major important components. in my view. semantics-the relation of signs to things signified. icon. and never help in the understanding of environmental meaning. special. 1973). it would appear that designers will encounter serious problems with such approaches and will resist tackling the important topic of meaning. or attributes. relationships. and utilitarian form of significance. deals with the reference of the signs and the system to a reality external to the system-in a word. then. that is. in semiotics. never really clarify the argument. their meaning. as the study of the significance of elements of a structured system. pragmatics-the relation of signs to the behavioral responses of people. their effects of those who interpret them as part of their total behavior. They are: syntactics-the relationship of sign to sign within a system of signs. the study of structure of the system. the property of the elements. and symbol. how signs carry meanings.38 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT about one of the more readable efforts.In fact. discussions of this apparently simple point can become almost impossible to follow.
At this point. . In order t o know the importance of these two activities to the people concerned. Alternatively. a clearing becomes the cue. in the other. This frequently has to d o with the establishing of place. yelling. 1977). in terms of our concern with the interpretation of how ordinary environments communicate meanings and how they affect behavior. and is often indicated by the contrast between the presence of trees and their absence. Consider an environmental example-the important meaning communicated through the contrast of humanized and nonhumanized space (Rapoport. 1969c. Yet it is by examiningwhich elements function in what ways in concrete situations. Another major problem. that they can best b e understood and studied. At that level. be the starting point. although not enough. 1969d). It is not much use studying deep grammar when one wishes to understand what particular people are saying. at least in the initial stages. we need to know that in one culture the sowing is important and the singing is recreational. one could argue that the stress has been on la langue. the pragmatic aspects are the most important. Thus it becomes important to define the situation and situational context and to realize that these are culturally defined and learned. rather than o n la parole-which is what any given environment represents and which should. Thus in one case sowing is the critical thing. in the other. it is the embeddedness of the elemenfs (and their meanings) in the context and the situation that are importantand that will be elaborated later. In a sense. preferences. the element comf municating that meaning. and behavior. However. in any case. in a heavily forested area. 1976~1. therefore. attention paid to the semantic-but hardly any at all to the pragmatic. This book is precisely about this-about pragmatics. We observe groups of people singing and sowing grain in two different cultures. the most abstract. Yet. attitudes. how they influence emotions. on a treeless plain a tree o r group o trees is the cue (see Figure 6). the singing. knowing that it is a baseball game will put a different cnnstruciion on the meaning of the actions. if we see a group of people standing around. they may be doing one of many things.The Study of Meaning 39 cisely the most interesting question. the singingis sacred and ensures fertility and good crops-the sowing is secondary. that is. The situation and the context explain the events. with semiotic analysis is that it has tended to concentrate on the syntactic level. There has been some. let me give an example I have used before (Rapoport. and running.
in Apulia (Southern Italy). or at least urbanized. polychromy in the domes. and so on. In these terms a steeple marking a small. also be interpreted partly in terms of context. see Tuan. such as size. . location. such as stone. can. dark and scary. domes. the use of domes. a freestanding building contrasting with clustered buildings. it may be the use of color (as in some of the Cycladic islands of Greece). is the equivalent of a small remnant of unspoiled forest in an urban. I believe. the same cues are used to identify the church. as it were. the figure/ground relations have. In that case the cue is also reinforced by other cues. landscape that covers most of the land and is believed full of crime and dangerous gangs. marks a special place-a church.40 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Figure 6 The reversals between the relative meaning of town (good) and forest (wild. bad) s o common in early colonial America and the present meaning of forest (good) and town (bad. and the use of a surrounding wall and gateway (see Figure 7). special elements such as classical doorways or columns.In the case of a settlement that is largely whitewashed. In Taos Pueblo. full of wild animals and unfamiliar and potentially dangerous Indians. reinforced by size. Alternatively. The context of each is quite different. it can be the use of natural materials. changed. In a town of mud brick in the Peruvian Altiplano the use of whitewash. white town in its clearing of fields among the apparently endless forest. reinforced by an arched door and a small bell tower. in addition to a pitched roof contrasting with flat roofs. and s o on. 1974).while they have to d o with changing values. to achieve the requisite redundancy (see Figure 8). in Ostuni or Locorotondo.
The Study of Meaning
In all these cases one's attention is first drawn to elements thpt differ from the context. They thus become noticeable, strongly suggesting that they have special significance. The reading of the meanings requires some cultural knowledge, which is, however, relatively simple; for example, the presence of the schema"church" (or, more generally, "important buildings," "sacred buildings," and so on). It is also context that helps explain apparent anomalies, such as the highly positive meaning, and hence desirability, of old forms and materials such as adobe, weathered siding, half-timbering, thatch, and
THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
M J t ( ~ W A W ,.jhULLYhle, I~~ECCL(LAFZ$N
so on in Western culture and the equivalent meanings given new forms and materials (galvanized iron, concrete, tile, and the like) in developing countries (see Rapoport, 1969d, 1980b, 1980c, 1981). This contextual meaning must be considered in design, and the failure of certain proposals in the Third World, for example, can be interpreted in these terms-that is, as being due to a neglect of this important aspect (for instance, Fathy, 1973, can be so interpreted).
The Study of Meaning
In linguistics itself, there has been increasing criticism of the neglect of pragmatics (see Bates, 1976)-the "cultural premises about the world in which speech takesplace" (Keesing, 1979: 14).The development of sociolinguistics is part of this reevaluation, the point is made that the nature of any given speech event may vary depending o n the nature of the participants, the social setting, the situation-in a word, the context (see Gumperz and Hymes, 1972; Giglioli, 1972). In any event, it appears that the neglect of pragmatics and the concentration o n syntactics almost to the exclusion of everything else are serioi~s shortcomings of the semiotic approach.
The symbolic approach
Even if one includes some more recent versions, derived from structuralism, symbolic anthropology, and even cognitive anthropology, this is an approach that traditionally has been used in the study of historical high-style architecture and vernacular environments. It also has suffered from an excessive degree of abstraction and complexity. It also has stressed structure over context, but even in that case it seems more approachable and more immediately useful than sc,ymiotic analysis (see Basso and Selby, 1976; Leach, 1976; Lannoy, 1971; Geeltz, 1 9 7 1 ; Tuan, 1 9 7 4 ; Rapoport, 1979b; among many others). This approach has proved particularly useful in those situations, mair~ly traditional cultures, in which fairly strong and clear schemata in are expressed through the built environment-whether high style or vernacular. Many examples can be given, such as the case o the f Renaissance churches already mentioned (Wittkower, 19621, other churches and sacred buildings generally (Wallis, 1973) o r the Pantheon (MacDonald, 1976), the layout of lowland Maya settlements at the regional scale (Marcus, 1973),and the study of tradi. tional urban forms (Miiller, 1961; Wheatley, 1 9 7 1;Rykwert, 1976). It has also proved illuminating in the frequently cited case of the Dogon (see Griaule and Pieterlen, 1954) or the Bororo (Levi-Strauss 1957). It has also been useful in the study of the spatial organization of the Temne house (Littlejohn, 1967),the order in the Atoni house (Cunningham, 1973), the Ainu house, village, and larger layouts (OhnukiTierney, 1 9 7 2 ) ,the Berber house (Bourdieu, 1973),or theThai house (Tarnbiah, 1973). Other examples, among the many available, are provided by the study of the relation between Greek temples and their surrounding landscapes (Scully, 1963) and more recent comparable examples from Bali and Positano (James, 1973, 1978). Note that in
THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
these latter cases the meaning first became apparent through observation-the locations of the buildings drew attention to something special, and hence important, going on within the context of the landscape in question. This was then checked more methodically; the interpretation of the meaning of these special elements required some cultural knowledge. In this way these examples come closer to the approach being advocated in the body of this book. Simple observation revealed quickly that something was happening. (This could have been checked in the cases of Bali and Positano by observing behavior.) By classification and matching against schemata the code was then read relatively quickly and easily. I have used the symbolic approach in a relatively simple form. One example has already been discussed (Rapoport, 1969e); two more related examples will now be developed in somewhat more detail. In the first (Rapoport, 1970b), it is pointed out that the study of symbolism (I would now say "meaning1')has not played a major role in the environmental design field. When symbols have been considered at all, it was only in one of two ways. First, the discussion was restricted to high-style design and to special buildings within that tradition. Second, the discussion formed part of historical studies, the implication being that in the present context symbols were no longer relevant to the designer. In the case of these special high-style, historical buildings, the importance of symbols has been recognized and well studied; examples are sufficiently well known and some have already been discussed briefly. But this kind of analysis has not been applied to environments more generally. In fact, the discussion is sometimes explicitly restricted to special buildings, specifically excluding "utilitarian" buildings, vernacular buildings, and, in fact, most of the built environment. Yet it is clear, and evidence has already been adduced, that this is not the case: Symbolism (that is, meaning) is central to all environments. The definition of "symbol" presents difficulties. There have been many such definitions, all with a number of things in common (see Rapoport, 1970b: 2-5), although these need not be discussed here. The question that seems of more interest is why, if they are so important, they have received such minimal attention in design, design theory, and environmental design research. Many answers can be given; one is the difficulty in the conscious use of symbols in design and the manipulation of the less self-conscious symbols involved in the creation of vernacular forms. That difficulty stems from a number
The Study of Meaning
of sources-some very general (to be discussed later), others more specific. Two among the latter are significant at this point-and are related The first is the distinction proposed by Hayakawa (Royce, 1965) between discursive symbols, which are lexical and socially shared, and nondiscursive symbols, which are idiosyncratic. The argument follows that in the past there was a much wider area of social agreement about symbols and fewer idiosyncratic variations. Symbols in a given culture were fixed, known and shared by the public and the designers. A given environmental element would always, or at least in most cases, elicit the "right" responses (that is, those intended by the design) or at least responses within a narrow range. The choices were greatly limited by the culture and these limitations were accepted. This was s o in preliterate, vernacular, and traditional high-style design. Under all these conditions the associations were much more closely matched to various forms and elements than is the case today. Today it is far more difficult, if not impossible, to design in the associational world, since symbols are neither fixed nor shared. As a result designers have tended to eliminate all concern with the associational world and have restricted themselves to the perceptual world; where they have no.t, the results have been less than successful. Any attempt to design for associations at levels above ihe personal are thus difficult. This is o n e reason for the importance of personalization and open-endedness discussed earlier. Yet in any given cultural realm there are some shared associations that could be reinforced through consistent use. There may even be some pan-cultural symbols (Rapoport, 1970b: 7-8);yet variability today is the more striking phenomenon. This brings me t o the second, related study (Rapoport, 1973).This study begins by suggesting that the translation of symbols into form has certain common features in all forms of design-high style, vernacular, and popular. What seems to vary is the nature of the criteria used in making choices among alternatives that, used systematically, result in recognizable styles (Rapoport, 1973: 1-3;compare Rapoport, 8; This 1977: 15-1 1 9 8 0 ~ ) . involves a process of image matching that attempts to achieve congruence between some ideal concepts and the corresponding physical environments. The question is then raised as to why popular design is disliked by designers even though it works well In many ways. In fact, one of the ways in which it works particularly well is in the consistency of use of
without thinking. Symbols. These are not shared and. are supposed to be multiuocal. Given people's mobility and the need for environments that can be "read" easily so that comprehensible cues for appropriate behavior can be communicated. although it seems to be exacerbated by relying on the notion of "symbol. The above discussion deals with a specific problem: In nontraditional cultures such as our own it is difficult to use symbols when they are ever less shared and hence ever more idiosyncratic." But the use of the symbolic approach also presents more general problems to which I have already briefly referred and which I will now discuss. there are problems with this approach. see Turner. Seeing the relevant symbols. of why such design is so strongly disliked by designers and other groups must be reiterated. in brief. is that the ideals incorporated in these images and schemata. elicit very different reactions from various groups. explicitly. and in some views much of human behavior generally. In this case correspondence is arbitrary and any part may stand for the whole. As a result. therefore. however. and what food and services are available at what prices2 The cues are as clear. also affect other approaches to the study of meaning. particularly in chain operations. such design is extremely successful and sophisticated. eikonically or in other ways. who is welcome. The result of this analysis is. what level of "dressing up" is acceptable. Signs are supposed t o be univocal. given that all human communication. Some definitions . people know. then. These problems have to d o with the common distinction between signs andsymbols. are found unacceptable. what behavior is expected of them. they have a one-to-many correspondence and are hence susceptible to many meanings (for example. in fact. The question. and meanings held by different groups.46 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT models. in this way at least. that the problem is the variability in the symbols. images. and almost automatically what t o expect. to have a one-to-one correspondence to what they stand for because they are related to those things fairly directly. the values and meanings that are expressed. mismatches and misunderstandings then follow. hence they have only one proper meaning. There is also an even more general and basic question about the extent to which "symbolism" is a useful separate category. that is. that is. and comprehensible as in a tribal society and. consistent. on the other hand. is symbolic. chain operations indicate very clearly. This then compounds the specific problem raised above since it compounds the difficulty of using symbols in analyzing or designing environments in the pluralistic situations that are now typical. 1968: 17). This specific problem may. The answer. that is.
These in themselves. food. is that the "complex interconnectedness of cultural events [which includes environments and their contexts] itself conveys information to those who participate in these events" (Leach. 1976).Thus symbols have been defined as "any object. 1968). 1977. Leach. 1 976a. posture. furniture. Schneider. such as clothing styles. then. Leach. rather. As we shall see below. 1976). In a way. are still complex.The Study of Meaning 47 of symbols tend. Actually. descriptive approach and .In many cases. of culture. To say that A is a symbol of B does not help us much. 1966a: 5) and also as any "objects in experience upon which man has impressed meaning" (Geertz. from a different perspective. act. signs. 1966a. and does. o n e can frequently reinterpret major pronouncements on symbolism in terms of communication by substituting other terms in the text or leaving out the word "symbol" (as in Duncan. in effect. the meaning of that symbol and what elements communicate that meaning still remain to be discovered. and so on (Leach. Moreover. become fairly abstract (see. Leach. for example. we can begin with a simple. basically. 1971: 21). 1976. 1976: 10). village layouts. for example by using cognitive anthropology approaches. physical gestures. we do not know that it is like language. Basso and Selby. The question is not that communication contains many verbal and nonverbal components-the question is how unfamiliar information is decoded. so that settings can be seen as expressions of domains (see Rapoport.while discussing symbol systems (in this case from a structuralist position). 1966b). architecture. they are a form of communication (McCully. 1973b. 1976: 2). cooking. particularly expressive functions. Douglas. everything becomes a symbol (as in semiotics everything becomes a sign!). while simpler. What concerns them. event. Many analyses (for example. 1976). and symbols that hopefully will reveal the patterning and information encoded in the nonverbal dimensions. Even if it is like language. 1976: 33-41). 1966b. which can. since symbol systems define culture (see Geertz. Leach tackles this through signals. music. what used to be and is called symbolism can also be studied by the analysis of schemata and theirrneanings. Leach. the same point is made by the suggestion that symbols are neither signs nor something that represents or stands for something else. 1976.H e assumes that it will belike language without arguing this any further. o n e can look at environmental cues and analyze their meaning without getting into the whole issue of symbols. in fact deal with culture as communication. quality or relation which serves as a vehicle for a conception" (Geertz. to be s o general that.
in fact. that is. 1 9 7 4 a . Scheflen. 1976). Harper et a].1969a. about which we agree. 1 9 7 6 .1968. t o concentrate on built environments and their contents. 1957. f The nonverbal communication approach While this approach will be discussed in considerably more detail in the chapters that follow. Kaufman. 1972.. Argyle et a]. 1975. Ekman. 1970. common codes of communication (Schneider. 1979. Mehrabian. 1972. Friedman. Weitz. 1 9 7 1 .. 1979. Davis. 1 9 6 5 . 1973). 1974. Siegman and Feldstein. particularly psychology and anthropology (see Birdwhistell. a brief discussion at this point will help in comparing it with the other two approaches. The concern has been mainly with the subtle ways in which people indicate or signal feeling states and moods. Eibl-Eibesfeld. The question then is how we can best decode this process o communication. My approach will be to accept the task. 1 9 7 7 . indeed. 1972. 1 9 7 0 . or changes in those states . 1978. Argyle. that they are related to status and represent the social order and the individual's place in it. 1972. 1 9 7 8 . 1969b. 1 9 7 2 .48 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT get to structural analysis later. 1976. that they are social. 1972. 1971. 1974b. 1 9 6 9 . Ekman and Friesen. 1973. 1973. Interestingly. These suggestions are about the need to reduce the arbitrariness of symbolic allocation. 1 9 7 2 . which requires a stress on the social elements in symbolism and an interest in the processes of human thought and the role of symbols in communication (Firth. the basic point that symbols communicate. are all notions that can be studied in other ways-notably through nonverbal communication. 1972. 1967. this implies a commonality of understanding. 1979. that simpler approaches can be used to achieve more useful results in studying environmental meaning-at least in the beginning phases of this rather large-scale and long-range undertaking. Ekman et al. If culture is. While this particular study does not even mention the built environment. the major thrust of this book.. 1970. 1966..Johnson et al. 1978). Hall. and to try to approach the analysis more simply and more directly. some studies of symbolism have made suggestions that I interpret as very close to my argument in this book. 1 9 7 6 . Hinde. l 9 7 1 . 1967. This is. Argyle and Ingham. a system of symbols and meanings that form important determinants of action and social action as a meaningful activity of human beings. 1972. The study of nonverbal behavior has developed greatly in recent years in a number of fields.
sounds. fac~al ing of relative physical positions. they qualify the interpretation of verbal discourse since they are less affected than verbal channels by attempts to censor information (see E:kman and Friesen. voice. a wide variety of body positions and postures. although auditory. Sieg- . and there is even less stvess on mult~sensory. gaze. Verbal behavior is much more codified and used more "syn~bolically" than either vocal or nonverbal behavior It thus seems incorrect. and nonverbal-act together. of course.The Study of Meaning 49 or moods. and nonverbally. and the like. Ekman et al. and relatiorlships of participants all help to clarify the meaning of spoken language well beyond the formal study of grammar. stances. on the face of it. structure.. temporal rhythms. all three-verbal. The interest has been on their meta-communicative~function and its role in changing the quality of interpersonal rela*tions. 1971). 1969). In fact. tactile (Kaufman. such as environmental perception. expressions. 1969a). It hiis been pointed out quite clearly that people communicate verbally.and other sensory cues may be involved-basically it is multichannel (see Weitz. vocal. In any case. are the most important in the sense that they are the most immediately noted. 1979. an analogous situation obtains: The visual channel has been stressed almost to the exclusion of all others. 1976). however. 1980: 74. so far. Note that in the study of manenvironment interaction itself. proxemic spatial arrangements. in many recent reviews of nonverbal communication (for example. and shared habits such as the meanTone of voice. they may "say" the same thing or contradict each other. while nonverbal behavior tends to be perceived mainly visually. although. Be that as it may.particularly in view of evidence that even language may be more iconic. Thus one finds that nonlinguistic somatic aspects of speech (paralanguage)greatly clarify spoken language. and s o on. that is. which are. Studied have been the face and facial expressions. 197%). this has tended to be neglected (see Weitz. they are the "louclest" (Sarles. Verbal and vocal behavior is received by the auditory sense. and so on. I would argue that one such channel is the built environment Yet. forms of co-action. gestures. 1977: ch. multichannel perception (Rapoport. 1980). it has been suggczsted that the sociocontextual aspects of communication. emphasis added). olfactory (Largey and Watson. to argue that "language dominates all sign systems" (Jencks. that is. and hence related to nonlinguistic reality. than had been thought (Landsberg. what one calls nonverbal. reinforce or weaken the message. 352). vocally. 4). 1 9 7 9 .It is thus necessary to study avariety of otherchannels. touch.
for example by indicating the ends of verbal statements. by getting people to interpret photographs of situations. The second is more directly related to what is commonly considered nonverbal behavior. there has always been m6re awareness of pragmatics-both conceptually and methodologically there has always been a "simpler" approach rooted in pragmatics. Nonverbal cues not only themselves communicate. 1979). The concept of nonverbal communication in the environment can be used in at least two different ways. the stress has often been on its nature as a "relationship language" (Ekman and Friesen. looking forthe underlying system or set of rules somewhat analogous to language. Harper et al. the links between different forms of communication have been studied by observing (or recording on film or videotape) cues and then making inferences. 1968: 180-181). it follows that they must represent a form of nonverbal behavior. interaction.. communication. There has always seemed to be an awareness that nonverbal communication could be studied either structurally. and coaction. One can also study the amount of information provided by different cues-for example. it is confined to space organization at the interpersonal.. 1979). There are also methodological suggestions here for the study of environmental meaning. Ekman and Friesen. proxemic. 1978. how head and body cues communicate affect(Ekman. 1975). the relationship is very direct and "real)' environments both communicate meanings directly and also aid other forms of meaning. and so on . Even if the role of the environment is not ignored. Unfortunately. The first is in the sense of analogy or metaphor: Since environments apparently provide cues for behavior but d o not do it verbally. even in the study of nonverbal behavior. and even clothing and settings have tended t o be ignored (see Friedman. looking for relationships between particular nonverbal cues and the situation. they have also been shown to be very important in helping other. Weitz. 1967) or how kinesic signals structure conversations among children (De Long. extremely microscale level. mainly verbal. Yet. because nonverbal behavior lacks the linearity of language. 1974). 1978. communication. They also greatly help in co-action. on syntactics. there is nothing on the built environment. At best. one finds scattered mentions of the built environment (see Kendon et al. or by stressing pragmatics. the ongoing behavior.that is. For example. In that sense. 1965. or the situations themselves.50 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT man and Feldstein. In nonverbal communication research.
with its high level of abstraction. and hence thresholds. signal strength and clarity. The stress. clear. Hence nonverbal analysis provides a more useful model than does language. and a person's willingness to make discriminations (his or her criterion state) on the other. Even in the case of body language. due to the ambiguity of cues their redundancy must be great-as I have argued elsewhere regarding the environment (Rapoport. Most such cues. 1973). Murch.d. becomes significant. two elements play a role--the nature of the stimuli and observer sensitivity on the one hand. n. This suggests that the insights of signal detection theory may usefully be applied to this type of analysis (see Daniel et al. as we shalA see. there is uncertainty (see Rapoport. but guesses can be good if the cues add up In other words. are still important. It also follows that since environments are inherently ambiguous. 150)--the criterion state. therefore. 1977). need a great deal of inference.. Thus in the study of nonverbal behavior both approaches have been used. on the linguistic approach. it has been suggested that there are a few aspects that may be coded in such a way that most members in a given community understand them. . In making judgments. is likely to lack the linearity of language (in semiotic terms. 1977). however. the analyses also needed to be different (Ruesch and Kees. it is not "syntagmatic"). they more closely resemble nonverbal communication than they d o language. This can be difficult. and appropriate contexts (Rapoport.The Study of Meaning 51 (Duncan. if it is to be studied as a form of nonverbal communication. Stnce all environmental cues are inherently ambiguous to an extent-that is. 1956: 189). Early in the development of the study of nonverbal communication the distinction was made between language as digital and dealing with denotation and nonverbal communication as analogic and dealing with coding.. Thus environmental meaning. has been unfortunate. 1969). At the same time. noticeable differences. of course. A role would also be played by people's readiness to make such guesses. however. Environmental meaning.This argues that all perception involves judgments. s o are contexts-they help in drawing inferences from abiguous cues. Since designers cannot change the criterion state. 1977: 1 1 7 . they need to manipulate those aspects they can control: redundancy. the observer's willingness to act on the basis of "weak" or ambiguous cues. probably does not allow for a clearly articulated set of grammatical (syntactic) rules.
than a linguistic approach stressing structure and syntactics.. gestures (Efron. linguistics began with dictionaries. 1 9 4 1 . nonverbal!! It is thus quite appropriate and significant that in ethology the first. such an effort. to start with comparable approaches in studying environmental meaning by trying t o relate certain cues to particular behaviors and interpretations-a point t o which I will return. different as they seem to be. 1972.proxemics (Hall. Both conceptually and methodologically. But it is frequently forgotten that in linguistics lexicons exist because of the efforts of descriptive linguists over long periods of time. kinesics (Birdwhistell. so have ethological studies. inform subsequent research. seems potentially both more useful and more direct. It may be useful. In ethology. Ekman and Friesen. This is what nonverbal studies have tended to do. do have a number of general characteristics in common. the intended meaning .52 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Environments and nonverbal communication also lack the clearcut lexicons with indexical relationships to referents that language possesses. step is to record repertoires and construct catalogues of behaviors-much as I a m advocating here. therefore. If we wish to study meaning in its full. then. 1964: 216): (1) a sender (encoder) (2) a receiver (decoder) (3) a channel (4) a message form (5) a cultural code (the form of encoding) (6) a topic-the social situation of the sender. 1975). 1972). Morris et al. The first step is to describe the repertoire. as has been the case in the study of facial expressions (Ekman et al. we need to begin with the whole. and other types of nonverbal cues. Note that all of these three approaches to the study of meaning. the behavior ethologists study is. stressing semantics and pragmatics. In any case. These follow from the fact that in any communication process certain elements are essential (see Hymes. It is possible that "dictionaries" can be developed. particularly at the beginning.. intended receiver. by definition.1972). the overlap between ethology and human nonverbal communication studies is very close. the data themselves. place. and critical.3For one thing. naturally occurring phenomenon. 1966).body movement(Davis. natural context. the view has been that a priori o n e cannot decide what to record and what to ignore: The important aspects are unknown. 1979). 1970.
~t by my says. Eventually. however.came across s in l a postcard ~ s s u e d Holiday Inn that ~llustrates argument perfectly In brg letters. the existence of a new journal (1976). Notes 1 Note. a given This commonality links the three approaches described at a high level of generality. S o far. "The best surprlse is no surpnse " 3 1w~ll however. however. It suggests that in starting the study of environmental meaning through the use of nonverbal communication models. environmental meaning has not been studied using nonverbal models. nor has the analysis of nonverbal communication really dealt with built environments and their furnishings.1 9 8 2 . which is part of what is being communicated but 1s partly external to it-in any case.EnorronmentalPsvchology and Non-Verbol Behavior. review the literature on ethology generally or on its relat~ono not. it may be possible to move to the use of linguistic models. whlch may begin t o redress thls gap 2 Whlle mak~ngsome ed~torial changes to t h ~manuscr~pt m ~ d . t humans or tts relevance t o man-environment research . should this prove necessary or desirable.The Study of Meaning 53 (7) the context o r scene. o n e does not preclude the others.
but I found them seminal. The best way to clarify this distinction is through the use of two studies as examples. mien. Only a few pages of a large book deal with this topic.the concern is. these environments have some direct eftect on the people in them.245-249). 1956). 1966: 98-101. since they got me started on this whole topic.people were asked to perform various tasks-rate photographs of faces along various dimensions."but rather impressive andunimpressive. I will begin with an apparently very different and unrelated topic-one of the three basic questions of man-environment studies: the effirct of environment on behavior (Rapoport. grade examination papers. but they were not "ugly" andUbeautiful. In the second study (Rosenthal. 'There were also experimenters present-dressed in certain ways. Mintz. 1956. 1977). which will come up several times. is that between what could be called direct and indirect effects. 1983). But one distinction that seems extremely useful. This is a very large and complex topic on which there are different views and of which there are many aspects that cannot be discussed here (see Rapoport. it is found that human reactions and performance change in response to the effects of the characteristics of the two rooms: that is. In these studies there were still two rooms. and the validity and replicability of the findings (on which there is a sizable literature.ENVIRONMENTAL MEANING Preliminary Considerations for a Nonverbal Communication Approach In line with the particular approach described in the preface. of certain age. with the effect of laboratory settings on how people perform in psychological tests. and s o on--in a "beautiful" and an "ugly" room. and demeanor-corresponding to the room that was their . In the first (Maslow and Mintz. Disregarding the meaning of these terms. of n o interest to us here).
and decoration in offices communicate social information about the occupant and about how . the main difference being that generally the rules are "unwritten" (Goffman. "good" or "ordinary" shop or restaurant. cues have the purpose of letting people know in which kind of domain or setting they are. private/public. They all communicate identity. the clothing and other characteristics of the experimenter (which are. library or discotheque. degree of personalization. One can suggest that position. In all these cases. number of windows. The subjects read the cues. universal. its furnishings. The process is rather analogous to certain definitions of culture that stress its role in enabling people to co-act through sharing notions of appropriate behavior. and is helped to act appropriately. once the code is learned. men's/women's. o n e knows who one's interlocutor is.1963)-whereas in the above case they appear in written form in manuals. and act accordingly. one situation was of high status. furnishings and finishes. status. and other elements of a room are carefully specified for each grade of civil servant. identify the situation and the context. of course. That this is the case becomes clear from studies such as that of offices in the British Civil Service (Duffy. living room or bedroom. and the like and through this they establish a context and define a situation. carpeting. 1959. and s o on. the other of low status-and these influenced the test results on the highly standardized samples used. a part of the environment). taxonomic terms whether front/back. high status/low status. in fact. on further reflection it makes extremely good sense. 1969). The critical point is that the effects are social but the cues on the basis of which the social situations are judged are environmental-the size of the room. size. The question then becomes one of how the environment helps people behave in a manner acceptable to the members of a group in the roles that the particular group accepts as appropriate for the context and the situation defined. Generally in offices location. its location. in more specific terms whether a lecture hall or seminar room. In effect.where it was found that the size. The process is. In brief. other sets of cues tend to develop. in conceptual. and other elements communicate status. distance. furnishings. While this may appear nonsensical at first. controlled access. for example.56 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT setting. An interesting question is what happens in open-space offices. In fact.
1973.as decoding it. f It seems significant that. and generally have meaning. the code needs to be read (see Bernstein. 1 9 7 1a. If the code is not shared or understood. for example. and hence about behavior. then the users can be sc. In other words. they are based on Rapoport (1979e). 1976b). a whole set o cues can easily be described for this one type of setting 'These cues provide information that constrains and guides behavior. the environment doesnotcommunicate(Rapoport. arrange these zones ve y differently. Business executives and academics. it is the socialsituation that influencespeople's behavior. but it is thephysical enuironment that provides the cues. It follows that the "language" used in these environmental cues must be understood.1975b. This follows from the observation that the same people act quite differently in different settings.Douglas. A number of points that will be developed later will now be introduced. 1 9 7 1 . which shows a sequence of lighted windows in an pffice building as showing "the way to the top" s o that one can now enjoy Brand X. they provide settings for behavior seen as appropriate t o the situation. s o that status and dominance are much less important in acaclemic offices than in business or government offices (Joiner. with relatively little effort.If the design of the environment is seen partly 'en as a process of encoding information. 1973a). Location within an office building as indicating status seems s o self-evident that it is used in a whiskey advertisement (see Figure 9). This point requires elaboration The conclusion of the argument about indirect effects is that in many cases the environment acts on behavior by providing cues whereby people judge or interpret the social context or situation and act accordingly. This suggests that theie settings somehow communicate expected behavior if the cues can be understood. about private and public zones.this .Environmental Meaning 57 he or she would like others to behave when in his or her room How an occupant organizes the office communicates meanings about that occupant. People typically act in accordance with their reading of environmental cues. 1 9 7 1b). Other advertisements also frequently use office settings with particular sets of elements t o communicate meanings very easily and clearly and hence to provide an appropriate setting for the particular product being advertised. influence communication. 1970b.
behavior can easily be made appropriate to the setting and the social situation to which it corresponds. Of course. when the environmental code is known.58 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT QMbi-b(h. Figure 9 situation corresponds to the experience of being in an unfamiliar cultural context. culture shock. However. before cues .
or arise out of. Designers can. 1973). when. it is one over which designers have n o control. 1974). such as cognitive anthropology. Note that I am not evaluating this model vis-a-vis others and that it is also clear that it needs to be modified for the purpose by considering some anthropological'. the environment and its meaning play a significant role in helping us judge people and situations by means of the cues provided and interpreted in terms of one's culture or particular subculture. one must be prepared to obey them. 1969a: 2): (1)Human beings act towards things (both objects and people) on the basis of the meanings which these have for them. however. the social interaction process. The specific question to be addressed is how enyironments help organize people's perceptions and meanings and how these environments. This latter consideration did not exist in traditional situations and is a recent problem.ideas and some notions about nonverbal communication with which this book deals. that define occasions (Goffman. 1969a). 1969a). In fact. offers one useful startingpoint for an understanding of how people interpret social situations from the environment and then adjust their behavior accordingly. and including or excluding whom. situations include social occasions and their settings-who d o e s what.Environmental Meaning 59 can be understood they must be noticed. People need to be seen as behaving in places that have meaning for them (see Birenbaum and Sagarin. 1963) or situations (Blumer. [Cognitive anthropology suggests that a basic human need is to give the world meaning and that this is done by classifying it into . This is claimed to be specific to symbolic interactionsim. how. and after one has both noticed and understood the cues. Once the code is learned. which act as surrogatesfor their occupants and as mnemonics of acceptable interpretations. In terms of behavior in environments. It would appear that the sociological model known as symbolic interactionism (Blumer. elicit appropriate social behavior. which deals with the interpretation of the situation. ~ h symbolic interactionist approach to the definition of the situac tion can be summarized in three simple propositions (Blumer.] (2) The meanings of things are derived from. Moreover. it can be suggested that situations are best understood and classified in terms of the behavior they elicit (Frederiksen. although they can understand it. have some control over the other two aspects-they can make cues noticeable and comprehensible. where. [This central point is shared by other approaches.
These domains often correspond to the settings of everyday life. is that this is part of the enculturation process inwhich the environment itself plays a role (see Sherif and Sherif. One answer. 1977: 8). It is the position of social interactionism that human groups exist through action. an interpretative process used by people in dealing with the things which they encounter. what is expected of us. more stress needs to be given to the routinizing of behavior. the cues of which trigger appropriate behavior. 1968. which are used to interpret situations and thus help people to act appropriately. the interpretation is frequently "given" by the culture]. objects indicate to people how to act. the formation of habits. Rapoport. to get a combination of symbolic interactionism. In this connection the built environment provides an important set of such cues. which is one thing culture is about. Tyler.Thus one acts toward objects in terms of meaning. Rapoport. 1976b. This view tends to neglect previous tradition (what we call culture) whereby we are shown and told how to interact. At this point we begin. environment as communication. 1969. this is assimilated into a schema whereby these elements come to stand partly for these people and behaviors. in fact. most conceptualizations of the built environment stress this pointthat environments are more than physical (see review in Rapoport. Blumer (1969a: 10-11) speaks of physical. cognitive anthropology. It does this through the association of certain environmental cues and elements with certain people and behaviors. Meaning is thus not intrinsic and interpretation plays a critical role [although. 1963.l (3) These meanings are handled in. Rose. that is. It is this process that answers the question (Blumer 1969a: 136) about how acts of interpretation can be given the constancy they need. 1976a. these cues can b e used t o identify unknown people prior to any behavior-or even when the people are not there.60 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT various relevant domains and naming those. the notion of behavior settings. I would add. and abstract objects. to be developed later. it is partly a mnemonic device. both culture and social structure depend on what people do: Interaction forms conduct. 1978a). and what the relevant cues are. social organization and culture supply a fixed set of cues. . and modified through. 1972. As already suggested. social. We are told how to behave partly through the environment-the objects of the world are given meaning partly by other people's actions encoded in them. but in the built environment these are combined and interact. finally. Spradley.
The fixed cues and meanings encoded in the environment of any particillar culture help make behavior more constant. 1956. Regarding art. and other important environmental themes-clearly the beginnings of a fairly large conceptual schema. Milgram 1 9 7 0 . 1 9 6 9 a 17): Members o a culture know how to act appropriately in f various settings. This would not only make any social structure or cultural agreement impossible and hence make any social interaction extremely difficult. 1957). Consider theoretical suggestions from two different fields. In effect. already discussed above). Environments in traditional cultures have done this extremely effectively and with very high probability of success. the less of the content he or she imposes and the more is . 1980-1981). Rapoport. stable. different cultures have different settings. one important function of the built environment is to make certain interpretations impossible or. and essential in any settled society (Blumer. still d o fulfill that function-people d o act differently in different settings and their behavior tends to be congruent. Environments and settings. Members of a culture also know the settings and the situations with which they are associated. Settings. however.Environmental Meaning 61 indirect effects of environment o n behavior. properly interpret. let us contrnue with our theme: the insights that symbolic interactionism and its approach to the definition of the situation can provide. elicit appropriate behavior. if people notice. Without considering that any further. to elicit a predisposition to act in certain predictable ways. they help avoid the problem of totally idiosyncratic interpretation. at least. that is. and the behavior appropriate to apparently similar settings may vary in different culturc!s. it is also likely that it would demand s o much information processing as to exceed human channel capacity for such processing(see Miller. 1972: 124)that the observer f does not d o all o the interpretation. making the process less certain and less successful. very unlikely-that is. it has been suggested (Wollheim. in fact. 1976b. The better someone understands a work of art. 1977. The constancy of interpretation is partly the result of joint action that is repetitive. environments d o reduce the choice of likely interpretations. the degree of idiosyncrasy has greatly increased. In the case of our own culture (with some exceptions. one definition of culture is in terms of people's ability to co-act effectively (Goodenough. and are prepared to "obey" the cues. in addition to the psychological and cultural filters people use to reduce alternatives and information.
Goffman. Such definitions are greatly constrained by enuironment.62 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT communicated: "The work of art should be to some extent a straightjacket in regard to the eventual images that it is most likely to induce. forthcoming ). "Parties and railway stations did not just happen to be there: they were established as ways of eliciting a particular definition [of the situation] from whoever may come along" (Perinbanayagam. 1975b. and hence a setting. always some flexibility. and the one on which this interpretation differs from Blumer's. stressing novelty and in-group meanings.This is useful because this perspective inevitably includes a stage. Much of culture consists of habitual. It is also instructive to compare the traditional situation in art. with a fixed canon and lexical (shared) meanings and great persistence over time. This is the suggestion that the definition of the situation is most usefully understood in terms of the dramaturgical view (Perinbanayagam. 1968) with that of the role setting (Goffman. with highly idiosyncratic and rapidly changing meanings. 1973. consistent. the response tends to be more automatic." If we substitute "environment" for "work of art" the parallel is very close. with the contemporary situation. since the range of choices is greatly restricted in traditional cultures. routinized behavior that often is almost automatic. and uniform (Rapoport. see also Britten. props. Once the rules operating in a setting are widely known and the cues . and the situation itself always presents some choice. and the concept of culture shock followed by learning or acculturation parallels that of aesthetic learning. 1974: 528). Once learned. Meanings are not constructed d e novo through interaction in each case. and these constraints often are enforced through both formal and informal sanctions. some ability to redefine the situation. but an appropriate setting restricts the range of choices (Perinbanayagam. This also makes it useful to combine the notion of the behavior setting (Barker. 1963). of course. There is. The parallel to environmental design is very striking. 1974: 524). This is the critical point. 1963):The idea of "setting" becomes much more concrete. 1969c. In a more sociological context a useful suggestion has recently been made along the same lines that well complements Blumer's model. they become expectations and norms and operate semiautomatically. 1976b. 1974. and cues. The problem is always one of congruence between the individual's idiosyncratic definition of the situation and those definitions that society provides-and that are encoded in the cues of the various places and settings within which action is always situated.
or miniaturized setting. clothing. as well as behavioral. Front lawns can play a similar role in our culture (Sherif and Sherif.and this compounds the problem: Operating in pluralistic contexts can be very difficult indeed. 1973). 1963.Environmental Meaning 63 identify that setting without ambiguity and with great consistency. Fernandez. forthcoming \. This last point will be discussed later in more detail. In other words. 1979c. 1977). areligious structure for the syncretic religion known as the Buiti cult. development. 1973). and other environmental elements (Royse. it elicits appropriate behavior and proper responses. and many other similar physical. variables. 1973). 1 9 7 1 . Also. that reminds participants of a whole cultural system. 1 9 7 1 . hairstyles. This is important: When people can be identified as to type. these then elicit appropriate meanings (Douglas. modernization. The definition of a situation can thus only arise when the parties to a transaction are at least minimally familiar with the customs df the group and have enough knowledge to interpret the situation in terms of the cues present (Perinbanayagam. In fact. 1968). . 1977). In this connection behavior. For now let us consider clothing. and other simiiar elements can also elicit appropriate behavior in similarwa!ls. it also becomes more difficult to act appropriately (Blumer. all cultural material can act as mnemonic devices that communicate expected behavior (Geertz. it becomes difficult to place people into categories. rapid culture change. 1973b). 1974: 524). appropriate behavior. and the like can lead to extreme difficulties in this domain and thus constitute a variable to be considered in policymaking. forms a setting for a situation that is a miniature of the whole cultural system: It is a paradigm. people must be able to interpret the code embodied in the built environment. Duncan. Thus in the case of the Fang in Africa. In this sense it reminds participants of a whole set of situations (Fernandez. 1 9 6 5 . 1969. to interpret their identities on the basis of costume. planning. appropriate definitions of the situation. and appropriate behavior becomes much easier. mentioned above. materials. 1 9 7 I). that is. so can location. and. vegetation. potential situations are more easily defined. such people are no longer fully strangers (Lofland. 1 9 7 4 . Werthman. and design (see Rapoport. the Aba Eboka. In the current context they must be able to operate among different coding systems (see Bernstein. costume played an important role in this process (Roach and Eicher. 1969'0). as did facial scars. By recreating a setting that is disappearing in its fullsize form. When clothing's role in providing identity and thus helping to define social situations breaks down due to lack of consistency. hairstyles. hence. Traditionally.
1973. continuing relationships to culture and to psychological processes. 1972b." Settings thus need to communicate their intended nature and must be congruent with the situation s o as to elicit congruent acts. Second.While there are also clear consequences of cultural and subcultural specificity and variability (Petonnet.. environments also become less legible-various cognitive domains lose their clarity and become blurred. Thus. The congruence present in traditional cultures and environments.64 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Clothing is still used to classify people and is often selected to be congruent with given situations (Rees et al. 1974). 1974). people's location in physical and social space becomes more important-and is often indicated by the settings in which they are found. 1972. in Royce. codes multiply and are thus unknown to many. accent. 1 9 7 1a). as we shall see later. at the same time that environments become more important from this point of view. that tend to be neglected in the sociological literature. including the built environment. 1977.This also applies when knowledge of people (say within a small group). such as the use of cognitive schemata and taxonomies. their intended occupants and rules of inclusion or exclusion become less clear. Settings. "old school ties. Ellis. there are important. however. To compound these problems. conflicts can easily arise in pluralistic contexts when settings may elicit different meanings and behaviors-or where particular groups may reject meanings that they in fact fully understand. Johnston. meanings become idiosyncratic and nondiscursive rather than shared and hence discursive or lexical (see Hayakawa. This conceptualization has two consequences: First. they also tend to lose clarity and have less congruence with other aspects of culture. the rules of the organization of the environment- . These settings themselves are identified by various cues-if these can be "read. become more important (see Lofland.but the consistency and predictability of such cues is now greatly reduced compared to traditional situations. 1976b. Rapoport. can also be understood as cognitive domains made visible." and other similar devices cease to operate.o n e finds. 1965). mode of dress was often laid down by law as well as by custom. Under all these conditions. 1972a). Under these new conditions other cues. in which costumes and other such markers had almost complete predictability. in broader terms. Environments cease to communicate clearly. they d o not set the scene or elicit appropriate behavior (see Petonnet. major differences between traditional (mainly vernacular) and contemporary environments.
between planners and designers on the one hand and the various publics on the other. influence behavior and communication. Today these processes d o not work nearly as well-there are major incongruences all along the line among various cultures and subcultures and. Without such help behavior becomes much more difficult and demanding. It seems clear that commonly much of this learning occurs quite early in life. However. of reward and punishment. during enculturation. At this point.Environmental Meaning 65 of space. The significant point for the purpose of this argument is that the role of the built environment in limiting responses has been most important in the definition of the situation and thus in helping people to behave appropriately. This is the issue of enculturation (and acculturation) and the role of the environment in that process (Rapoport. 1978a). For immigrants and during periods of rapid culture change o r culture contact. however. Many of the points just raised will be elaborated later. These rules were congruent with each other. it seems clear that the environmen1 plays a role. that is. While little research exists on the role of the physical environment in the process of enculturation. caretakers. and teachers. with the ways in which settings were defined. 197Ha: 55- . some suggestive exanlples from varied cultures can be found (Rapoport. As a result they elicited the expected behaviors. environments have traditionally had the role of helping people to behave in a manner appropriate to the norms of a group. I will also discuss the ways in which environments transmit those meanings that define situations and. and communication-have tended t o disappear. nculturation and environment The question is basically how those codes are learned that allow the decoding of the cues present in the environment. A better understanding of this process should enable us to make greater use of this role of environments. The stress in social science has been on l. with the ways in which situations were defined. meaning. not least. in turn. this process may occur later in life and is then known as acculturation. time.he role of verbal messages of parents. and with the rules of inclusion or exclrlsion of people. one issue briefly mentioned above requires elaboration. with the unwritten rules of culture. Like culture. particularly since it is intimately related to the wholcb issue of how meanings and learned behavior become habitual and routinized. hence this book.
at the same time. Similarly. after all. 1976). by the presence of living rooms versus family rooms. include appropriate foods in the right order. 1930) and even demonstrated (Whiting. To use an example I have used before: The differences between a family that takes formal meals together and one in which meals are grabbed informally at odd times are likely to be important (Rapoport. a clear relation between roles and various settings.66 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 56). or formality as opposed to informality-as indicated. dining rooms as opposed to eating in the kitchen. The relationship between these codes and the organization and use of the dwelling has been sketched . The distinction between such formal meals and grabbing food at various times is precisely the difference between the restricted and elaborated codes (Bernstein. clear rules about the inclusion or exclusion of certain groups. 1974). where space and resources are scarce (Turner. While many settings play a role in enculturation. and include or exclude certain categories of people and behaviors. For example. 1971). they have certain rules associated with them. for example. The effects of such decisions. the role of the dwelling and how it is used is primary in influencing small children. we find that when the possible effects of reduced dwelling size in the United States are being discussed it is suggested that the first thing to be eliminated should be the formal living room (Milwaukee Journal. often at the preverbal level. It seems intuitively likely that those dwellings in which there are distinct male/female domains.Meals are. we find the insistence on a front parlor in the rather small English working-class house and even in the barriadas in Lima. 1967). occur in appropriate ways. it has been suggested that a meal contains a great . and of the lifestyles and values they encode. occur at appropriate times. should be considerable. 1 9 6 9 ~ )In fact. It has also been suggested (Plant. social occasions that include appropriate settings. In other words. All these things children learn during the repeated process of participating in such occasions. one could posit that order versus disorder. 1964) that children who sleep in the same room with their mother (or parents) develop differently from those who have their own room early. amount of information that is culturally learned and can symbolize much (Douglas. and a clear and unambiguous use of various settings will convey different messages and hence teach different things to children than will those where all these are blurred-or absent. or eating anywhere-would also have consequences and effects on children's enculturation.
and so on. The relationship of this to changes in the social order and consensus offers many interesting questions. 1973a: 81). linearity versus nonlinearity. or enculturation. it becomes a mnemonic device reminding one of appropriate behavior. different rules would be learned in these two settings. a way of classification. as opposed to traditional classrooms-separate settings. As just one example-. the learning of certain systems. In the other case none of this is demanded or learned-a very different order is learned (Douglas. in effect. imposes an order. and s o on to that very extreme posited as hypothetical by Mary Douglas. and acceptance of social demands. and the learning of such rules is an important part of the learning of culture. mealtimes.Environmental Meaning 67 out suggestively and persuasively by Mary Douglas (1973a). Certain middle-class families and dwellings have taken the elaborated code in terms of individualized routines.She suggests that spatial layouts that convey a hierarchy of rank and sex. with simultaneous activities. lack of classification and nonlinearity. many of the characteristics of the restricted code in the same way the elaborated code of middle-class families is embodied in their dwfllings (Douglas. linear use. the likely impact on the cognitive styles of children of open classrooms. behavior and rules about ignoring concurrent activities. In one case the environment. simultaneity or sequential thinking. organizations encoded in the physical environments of schools. will produce a very different child than one in which n9 such hierarchy exists. The English working-class dwelling clearly embodies.and we would then expect different enculturation processes and results. Once learned. in which e v e y event is structured to express and support the social order. encodes. and in which each child eats when his or her schedule dictates (Douglas. in which each child's needs are met individually. work habits. In its most general terms the environment can then be seten as a teaching medium.Would o n e see in this the conflict between the open plan of the architect and the resistance to it by many users? A related point was made by Rosalie Cohen at an €LIRA 4 workshop (not published in the proceedings). In other words. with its label and consecutive. behaviors. She suggested that this would greatly influence the process of categorization of activities. that is. 1973a: 55-56). specifically. each for a specific purpose. If one accepts the view that environments are somehow related to culture and that their codes . 1973a: 191) and also expressed through them. This referred to the possible effect on the conceptual styles of children of the very different social.
Australia. Three possibilities existed: A visitor could sit on a chair in place at location A. contexts. or thevisitor could even lean over the architect's desk. A personal anecdote. and situations that. are frequently communicated by cues in the settings making up the environment.68 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Figure 10 have to be learned. is influenced by roles. then the role of the environment in enculturation (and acculturation) follows as a very likely consequence. The architect felt that these three behaviors communicated ever higher degrees of status and self-confidence. In terms of our discussion. and he acted accordingly. the relationships among all these are learned as part of enculturation or acculturation. he or she could move it forward part way toward the architect's desk or all the way right u p against his desk. He felt that the results supported his assumptions and he found the system most helpful. may help to make this clear. although clearly some people are more sensitive than others.After they had been used by visitors. The architect then observed how entering visitors handled these chairs and where they sat. In turn. in turn. To summarize: Human behavior. The topic of enculturation thus forms an important link in the development of the argument about how settings communicate meaning. this learning influences the degree to which environmental cues can be decoded easily and behavior adjusted easily to various settings. This example concerns an architect in Sydney. who had had training in social science. with his or her elbows on it. The fact is that we all rely on such cues in order to act appropriately. including interaction and communication. chairs were always replaced at point A. relating to offices. His office was set up as shown in Figure 10. since they are culture specific. he .
1965). Since all behavior occurs in some context. This overlap is due not only to the increasing interest in context in various disciplines but also to the fact that it has been discussed in general terms. The array of different meanings associated with any given cue can only be determined by surveying the possible kinds of contexts in which it occurs. 1978). as. and nonverbal behavior in general have been used to illustrate the importance of context and attempts have been made to apply contextual logic to analyzing these at a high level of abstraction (De Long. All ihese indirect effects operate by establishing the context: Before elaborating this point it is useful to note that this has methodological implications regarding the possibility of establishing "lexicons" discussed above. The relationship between behavior and seating has long been known and can be intepreted both as communicating roles. one can substitute "cues" for "symbols" without loss of clarity and do so for elements in the built environment. "What is the meaning of A as a symbol?". Clearly. in the case of various tasks (Sommer.Regardless of the particular formulation and approach. in fact. and s o on and as being dependent on context. it follows that people behave differently in different contexts by decoding the available cues for their meaning-and these cues may be in the physical environment. 1976). This point has been made about symbols. Thus furniture arrangement. 1961).the study of meaning. being stressed more and more in various fields. and other group processes (Michelin et al. status. can best occur by considering all its occurrences in context. among many others. The meaning of a given symbol or cluster of symbols cannot be determined simply by asking.seminars (De Long. jury tables (Strodbeck and I-Iook. much less abstractly.1970). it is necessary "to inspect the normative usage of A as a symbol in the widest array of possible contexts" (Schneider. once again. here again the different approaches to the study of meaning overlap to some extent. the impact of context on changing the value of different colors. rather.. kinesics. for example. as in the work by Albers Size. Thus context becomes an important consideration for the study of meaning and is.Environmental Meaning 69 clearly used these cues to identify the potential situation and modified his behavior accordingly. In effect. considered as pragmatics. posture. conversational style. a strong argument is made forthe high general importance of contextalthough I will use it. . This has long been known from perception-for example. and that context is based on meaning. 1976: 212-213).
safe. clothing may have a stigma effect and thus reduce communication. including the development of computer-programmed "wardrobe engineering" for success. how to dress for success-he points out that when a person enters a room many decisions are made about him or her based solely on appearance-mainly clothing. the same town can be seen as clean. and noisy. These judgments include economic and educational levels. status. or clothing.70 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT height. at $50 per hour. food habits. and so on. depending on which cities were experienced before (Campbell. 1973). and other such variables are contextual-as in the Ames perspective room illusion and other optical illusions. colors. social position. One consultant advises people. This is also shown by the well-known experiment in which the same water may be experienced as both hot and cold depending on previous exposure. 1961). but it is a fact (Thourlby. but that effect of clothing will depend on the context-dirty or torn clothing worn while working on a car or in the garden will be evaluated quite differently than would the same clothing worn at a party or in a restaurant. heritage. and success. He stresses that many people feel that it is unfair to judge people by how they dress.The implication is that particular suits or dresses. dangerous. Thus a New York appeals court barred a Roman Catholic priest from wearing clerical garb while serving as a lawyer in a criminal trial. or dirty. it was held that this mode of dress would be a continuing visible communica- . eyeglasses. 1976). their organization. Social communication and context Behavior vis-a-vis others. social communication. consumer goods. and quiet. That clothing communicates and is used to project quite explicit messages about identity. is often a result of judgments of others based on physical cues-such as dwellings. and so on is clear from the recent spate of books and articles on how to dress for success. group membership. and arrangement make a difference in the messages communicated and hence success in business (Molloy. ties. shirts. depending on whether o n e came to it from a metropolis or a rural area (Wohlwill and Kohn. Similarly. For example. furnishings.The specificity of the recommendations also suggests that this is context specific-a suggestion that is quickly confirmed. sophistication. An urban analogue of what are essentially adaptation effects is the finding that the same city can be experienced as either drab or interesting. This will have further differential effects depending on the subgroup at the party and the type of restaurant. character. 1980).
value. For example. 1965. and so on and is used to communicate group identity. 1973). But this very rapidity of change may. and so on (much as in built environments). in fact. to activities. In the case of students in Britain. and social stances some priests and nuns dispense with clerical garb altogether. all of which are culturally variable.Dress indicates identity.a process also helped by hairstyles. roles. haphazard use. This works much less well in modern societies. 1973). it was frequently prescribed for different groups (Lofland. in other contexts the use of such garb would be appropriate Note also that to communicate particular ideological. as we shall see later.It is the ability of clothing to communicate meaning in traditional societies and its much lesser (although still present) ability to do so in modern societies that have led to the disappearance of the ability to place people in social space (Lofland. 1977: 40). one of which is to communicate status (meaning). wearing a tie (or not wearing one) depends on the context. and many other variables (Rapoport. where meaning generally cannot really develop due to wide choice. rapid change. the meanings are influenced by the setting.Clearly. 1973). and so on (Roach and Eicher. There were also proscriptions about its use-sumptuary lawsapplied to dwellings as well as to clothing. Like built environments. Fashion communicates meaning by color. texture. mass production. body marltings.other purposes include self-beautification and magico-religious requirements (both involving meaning). the purpose of which was to prevent the use of particular elements by various groups as a way of preventing them from expressing high status. Dress is related to ideal body types. 1981). add importance to fashion as a way of defining particular elite groups-taste leaders (Blumer. There is a large literature on dress. context plays a role. line. Clothing was thus dependent on culture. however. In all these cases. protection from the elements.When all these cues disappear. status. decoration. environmental cues gain in importance. clothing. 1940). and fashion and their meanings which offers a useful paradigm also regarding the environment. where . an important form of context.Environmental Meaning 71 tion to the jury that would prevent afair trial(Hiz. religious. shape. Clothing generally has been used to communicate identity and has clear meaning. and to posture. This it did particularly well in traditional societies in which it expressed ethnic and other forms of group identity and was used to place people in social space. dress has many purposes. 1969b). and the like and changes in fashion indicate changes in roles and selfconcepts in society (Richardson and Kroeber.
where it may communicate protest. their latent. For example. that is. Wristwatches also have latent meanings quite independent of their role in showing time. or ignorance. 1974). This is particularly significant for our discussion since. even self-definition can depend on context!!! (See Shands and Meltzer. 1974). If and when sex roles and stereotypes change. In the study cited above. and major. Thus bright clothing worn by experimental subjects led to greater personal distance (Nesbitt and Steven. a judgment is made whether it is"crowdedthat is. in turn. 1972). protest. More generally.) Subjective definitions of crowdingalso depend on context. to express conformity. lack of care.. s o that the same number of people in the same size area is judged quite differently depending on the context-whether it is a library. for example. help define the context. new schemata develop. They seem to communicate sexual stereotypes. In fact. a cocktail party. or whatever. one can argue that all goods and consumer items have meanings that organize social relations (Douglas and Isherwood. wearing a tie was seen as having different meanings depending on whether the student was en route to a class or an interview (Rees et al. these. or whatever (Desor. informal clothing will be read as appropriate in an informal situation but will be viewed quite differently in a formal context. the male as strong and function-related. other cues will. the decoding of these meanings will change and one can predict changes in watch styles and in their meanings-that is. the female as delicate and aesthetic (Wagner. to judgments made about the wearers. too. 1979). are context specific. Most generally. in a Southern California amusement park the bright clothing probably had less effect than it would have had in a variety of other situations. at least partly. also. dependingon the appropriateness in terms of an identfication of the situation through a set of . subjectively uncomfortable-or not. the cultural context will also play a major role. in effect. function. 1975). this is. 1978: 279). upon entering a setting containing a given number of people in a given space.This can be interpreted as being due. a conversational setting.This also plays an important role in evaluating and judging educational levels or medical states.72 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT dress style has important meaning. In social psychology. an airport waiting room. one finds that the willingness to help others is strongly controlled by the setting and the context that the settingspecifies (Sadalla. 1977: 87-88. the clothing worn and the context are manipulated together. in fact. to establish or eliminate social distance.
." "waiting room. and culture all play a role both in the production of behavior and tts perception (seevon Raffler-Engel. Hall. 1978) The importance of context in terms of signal detection theory is. learning. 1965.Environmental Meaning 73 cues that indicate "library. major interest in it is really only just beginning (see Rosch and Lloyd." "cocktail party. s o that "one of the most repl~cable ~ n d ~ nin s chology is the fact that our evaluation of virtually any event is partly determined by the context in which the event appears" (Manis. also the thrust of Barker's work. it is predictive. that it makes it easier to make reliable judgments about ambiguous stimuli. 1968) In that case. s o that spoken language. learned "internal contexts. the context is the behav~or setting. of course. The resemblance to the action of settings as a type of context seems clear In the case of nonverbal behavior. In the case of perception. that pragmatics must be stressed-that is. This is due to the presence of preexisting. also. At the same time. that meanings must be studled in contexts. context is increasingly stressed (see Giglioli. recognizing.which is. 1967) It is also quite clear that inference also increases and improves when context exists (Bruner. as in the cases discussed above. considering the surround~ng circumstances or "situation " Similarly. In anthropology there has been increasing emphasis on context (see Spiro. 1 9 7 6 . of course. it has been argued tttat context is most Impor. De Long. and understanding various amb~guous cues in different sensory modalities is quite clear (Nelsser. 1978) In psychology this has f g psyalso been the case. while the importance of context is accepted in psychology and is growing. since no human behavior ever occurs outside a social setting. 1970) and words and sounds generally are more comprehensible in rneanirlgful contexts Subliminally flashed letters are noticed. nonverbal behavior.In linguistics. basically. Thus the role of the soc~al text) is ext~emely important.The argument is. 1978). the impordance of context in noticing. 1973)." which provide the ability to match percepts with schemata. recognized. and s o on. as we shall see below (for example. 1972). see Barker." or whatever. setting (or concontext seems important. 1977). and remembered much better when embedded in words and rneaningful syllables than when they form part of nonsense syllables (Krauss and Glucksberg. Thus missing sounds are restored in sentences using context (Warren and Warren. the context communicates the most likely schemata. 1971: 153).
while capable of making social inferences by .74 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT tant in the sensible construing of meaning in language. ethnic group. This is also implied in the finding that there are correlations. 1974: 44-45) and the corresponding finding that different status groups have different environmental quality preferences. in many others it is formalized (see Trudgill. many of which. In some cultures. then. language as parole. 1971). The parallelism between sociolinguistic approaches to language and the approach to environments here being developed goes further. like behavior. contextual and general. certainly. many of which may be physical. These not only involve rules of appropriate or inappropriate (right or wrong) usage. and s o on. Different contexts elicit different linguistic usages. leads adults also to be influenced by the context and the situation-so that directions asked by a "stranger" or a "native" elicit very different responses. 1976: 125). this is informal. and so on. in the case of language. sex. this distinction is found in environments. Language. 1969). such as status. not as langue. The context provides a pool of stored information on which both parties to a conversation can draw. but also according to the social context. It has been argued convincingly (Douglas. evaluating the same cues differently and. and the like. in some cases formalized and in others not. nonverbal (Cook. the ability to elicit understanding with minimal cues. 1974). 1977) This. that speakers believe listeners share with them constitutes the cognitive background to the utterances (Miller and Johnson-Laird. in Britain and the United States. are physical and. varies with context. It is pointed out that children learn not just language but socialspeech. the audience. based partly on the role. such as the "shorthand" of professionals or the special speech patterns of in-groups. but also assume certain cultural knowledge. such as accent. Thus. that is. It not only varies with the social characteristics of the speaker. note that "native" or "stranger" is communicated by a set of cues. if it is approached in terms of pragmatics. clothing. context is established to a great extent by nonverbal elements (Sarles. This information. which takes into account knowledge and perspective of another person (Krauss and Glucksberg. between language and social status and group membership (Trudgill. Bilingualism provides agood example of context and of the potential relationship of linguistic analysis to our subject. Again. age. 1973a) that the use of linguistic codes and the use of dwellings parallel each other closely in English working and middle classes.
1979: 33). Jopling. and the way settings are used in films. rather than the formal. Note. a simple inventory of objects. 1977). the cognitive background to appropriate behavior is provided by designed settings and the cues that communicate appropriate meanings. Analogously. This process can be quite straightforward. that we are using sociolinguistic. syntactic. irk many traditional cultures there is a relationship between the noumenal world of invisible spiritual beings and the phenomenal. and s o on will reveal their meaning and the way in which they operate to let people know in which setting or domain they Find themselves (see Zeisel. Eskimos. 1 9 7 3 . television. While I know of no research trying to relate these two sets of findings. and others) and must be known. and can be discovered by various formal or informal forms of content analysis. These may coincide at specific places. the relationship is rather likely as a hypothesis. The actors must have cultural knowledge upon which to draw in order to embed messages in social contexts. and the like. 1974). For example. which then become sacred. one needs to consider the cultural knowledge necessary to make language work. that is. This relation may be "invisible" to outsiders (as in the case of Aborigines. 1969a. it may. pragmatic approaches to language. physical world of perception. It is striking how quickly. This cultural pragmatic context often provides the knowledge needed to relate perceptual and associational aspects. contextual. its lifestyle (in the sense of the choicesmade) and behavior can be observed and the settings in which activities occur can be identified. Once a group is known. interpreting cues differently (see Royse. In all cases of communication. abstract approaches criticized before. in the case of analyzing language. however. "pragmatic knowledge" is needed for such communication to work. one brief example has already been given and more will be used later (Rapoport. It is often done informally in descriptions. even language utterances cannot be analyzed as an abstract system but must be considered within the context of the "culturally defined universe in which they are uttered" (Keesing. Clearly. be indicated by various cues that can be learned (Rapoport.materials. Frequently. in these processes it is necessary to learn the cultural knowledge needed to interpret the cues-very much as.Environmental Meaning 75 reading environmental meanings. this process of reading occurs and how frequently novelists have taken it for granted. furnishings. 1969). . novels. almost instantaneously. however.
and s o on (Rapoport. if perceived. This learning for members of a culture is the process of enculturation. demands cultural knowledge-an awareness of the current cultural context. at the moment. strivings for ethnic and linguistic identity. if both perceived and understood. in associational terms (as already discussed) and this meaning. so as not to misinterpret it. churches. and so on. Recall that we have already seen that designers and users. This place is special. there is great interest in vernacular architecture and use of the "style neo-Quebecois" for suburban houses using elements of that vernacular such as particular roof forms. 1977). Similarly. 1961). 1957). porches. however. Consider a more "concrete" example-the mosque courtyards of Isphahan already mentioned (Rapoport 1964-1965. 1980b. not understood.for example. and so on. These can be experienced and described in terms of their perceptual characteristics in all sensory modalities. To understand its meaning. separatism. the impact on the development of Boston of neighborhoods like Beacon Hill and sacred sites. the transitions employed to reinforce these. extent of sharing. facades. and. 1977). for outsiders (including researchers) it is one of acculturation. and to be elaborated later. and different user groups. perceive and evaluate environments differently so that meanings intended by designers may not be perceived. however. This last point is basic. Yet. may be rejected (see. as a!ready pointed out. Rapoport. demands a knowledge of the cultural context within which the environmental cues communicate. such as the Boston Common. 1981. Note that generally this process works much more easily for users of "vernacular" environments in traditional societies. windows. given the .76 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1975a. 1977). forthcoming ). the knowledge how to behave. In those terms they can be understood as the manipulation of noticeable differences in the perceptual realm to define a distinct place. and s o on. 1980c. particularly if culture itself is defined in terms of what a stranger to a society would need to know in order appropriately to perform any role in any scene staged by that society (Goodenough. In this process the understanding and acceptance of cultural knowledge and contexts are most important. Thus in Quebec. These communicate much more clearly because the contexts and cultural knowledge are much more shared-in degree of sharing. what to do-a whole set of appropriate rules-to enable one to act appropriately and co-act effectively requires much cultural knowledge. nationalism. and burying grounds (Firey.
Note also that Goffman (1963:3) begins by reminding us that mental disorders are often def~nedin terms of behavior that is "inappropriate to the situation. 1974). manners. 1977) and considering the distinction between front and back. considering settings as expressing domains (Rapoport. which lend ihemselves to very different behaviors (see also Rapoport. it is clear that in terms of the effect of environment on behavior. environments are more than just inhibiting. one finds markedly different behaviors in front and back regions. that is. they also predict and prescribe. appearance.Notethat is order to guide responses--to tell people that they should act in such and such a way-the conditions we have been discussing must be met. Periribanayagam. The notion of role settings and the dramatic analogy of human behavior (Goffman. which house appropriate behaviors and also remind people how to behave.Environmental Meaning 77 approach here being developed. Here it may suffice to remark on an experience in Baltimore. 1974. behavior. They not only remind.whereby settings are identified as stages where coherence prevails among setting. worked as intended in some cases and failed in others (Brower and Williamson. faciliiating. My interest here. they make certain responses more likely by limiting and restricting the range of likely and possible responses without being determining (Wollheim. It is most likely that a major part of this difference has to do with front/back behavior. . Given the above discussion. 1977). 1 9 5 9 . 1976b. 1972. the discovery of cultural knowledge is posstble and not too difficult. is in the process whereby settings communicate the situation and thereby the rules that elicit the appropriate behavior This is done through inference (as in much nonverbal communication). Brower. identified with public and private and associated with appropriate behaviors. They actually guide responses. A particularly striking example is provtded by the changed behavior of a waiter moving through the swinging door between restaurant dining room and kitchen (Goffman." Clearly the appropriateness of behavior and the definition of the situation are culturally variable. 1963). or even catalytic. however. Thus. since in the second case designs that helped people use the street worked well and transformed the environment Note that the definition of front and back domains. depends on particular cues. where similar urban renewal projects. 1976a. based on clearing out the interiors of blocks and rc?placingthem with parks and playgrounds. 1 9 6 3 ) can easily be extended to the communicative and mnemonic function of settings and environments.1will have more to say later about these important cognitive domains. 1977).
1963: 190-200). as some students of mine found in Haifa. service. and d o s o effectively. such settings restrict the range of behaviors appropriate in the setting. compare Rapoport. are settings for rituaI behaviors with "an astonishing degree of behavioral uniformity" that may have been remarkably successful in producing behavioral invariance (Kottak. finally. Israel. food. each with appropriate behaviors. 2 5 ) . layout. This has also been shown to happen in Hyderabad. and hence eliciting different behavior that is appropriate (Goffman. a riot. to interpret them. hence the need for cultural specificity. Similarly. which increase their predictability. if they perceive them. While they may be unable to notice the cues or. In general. a soccer game. housing different occasions. the uses of settings and appropriate behavior can become difficult since their invariance is destroyed. Thus the same open space may successively house a market. 1 9 8 0 ~ )The consequence is that . and s o on. such as hotel chains. In this process the users play an active role: They interpret the cues. and while they may be unwilling to act appropriately. a performance. and so on. 1959: 3 . India (Duncan. achieve the same effects by providing the uncertain traveler with certainty as to price. In this legibility the consistency of use of various design elements is most important in achieving a degree of predictability unknown since tribal architecture. 1979).78 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT and so on (Goffman. At a different level. strong noticeable differences. in most cases when cues are noticed and understood people will . Note. in this case it is the people who elicit the appropriate behaviors. language. such as McDonald's. 1 9 7 6 . 1980b. a single street corner may become a series of settings for different groups. successful settings are precisely those that successfully reduce the variance by clear cues and consistent use. for it to work the inference must be easy to make and should be made in the same way by all those involved. and so on. A similar observation was recently made starting from a very different perspective: that fast food restaurants.that the same physical space may become several different settings. other chain operations.The rules linking these are unwritten.It is here where inference becomes important. and may be "tight" in some cultures and contexts and "loose" in others (Goffman. because they are legible-their meanings are clear and unambiguous. mattresses. adequate redundancy. clarity.In terms of my paper on the definition of the situation. I have already commented on some of the reasons for the success of chain operations-they are among the most predictable settings in our environment. 1963: 21).
classrooms. tribal dance ground. This proposes that the notion of "aesthetics" be dispensed with and that. in all these . and act appropriately. concert halls. that is. playing a role involves a settingin this case one that defines the situation as "aesthetic. and so on. 4976). his conclusion is quite similar. or whatever (see Goffman. 1972). identify them and the relevant information. Rapoport. an audience. The evidence is all around us that settings work-people know how to behave and are able to coact effectively in shops. the appropriate behavior follows This is no different from the process that takes place in a market. galleries.Environmental Meaning 79 act accordingly-the interpretation is restricted in range among members of a particular group sharing a culture. eliciting appropriate behaviors (Fleming. this particular aspect-which I came across in 1978. 1980b. cases we have an actor. Thus. The requirements of settings can then be specified and the actual forms tested against them-and understood. restaurant. Clearly these are culture specific. While there is much in Peckham's book with which I disagree. it depends on shared cultural knowledge and behavior. Both in the specific argument and generally. That this concept can help in connection with very different problems indeed is illustrated by a case in which the nature and origin of megalithic tombs in Britain were greatly clarified by analyzing them in just these terms-as settings that housed ritual performances involvingactors and audience and that thus had both communicative and mnemonic functions. discotheques. and hence starting point. that is. 1 9 8 0 ~ )Using the dramatic analogy. A rather interesting and very general argument that bears o n my discussion here has recently been made. 1959. Note that in this view art objects are such because they elicit aesthetic behavior. draw upon the applicable rules. we play a role involving socially standardized behavior determined by convention: "A work of art is any artifact in the presence of which we play a particular social role. people enter settings many times a day. The form of these tombs was best understood by considering them as settings for rituals involving actors and spectators. classroom. a culturalIy transmitted combination of patterns of behavior" (Peckham. art be defined contextually-those objects and behaviors are artistic that occur in settings defined as having the purpose of housing works of art: museums. In effect." Once the situation has been defined. In any given . and the like (Peckham. although Peckham starts from a totally different perspective. and a stage. 1976: 49). in effect. after developing my argument independently-seems to fit the model based on a very different position.1963. theaters.
The setting. the most appropriate choices to be made: The cues are meant to elicit appropriate emotions. 1979a. cues are clearer and meanings more widely shared in some situations than in others: for example. In other words. constrains them. their actors. forthcoming ). once noticed. 1980c) reminding people of the behavior expected of them. the behaviors. 1980b. partly through increasing redundancy. Clearly. and audiences and hence their requirements would be necessary to understand the meaning of the space organization and furnishings of such sacred spaces. Clearly. behaviors. interpretations. appropriate rules and behaviors may be incongruent with each other. 1979b. and if one is prepared to obey them (that is. 1980b. . a knowledge of the rituals. read and understood. in those contexts. in traditional (vernacular) situations more than in contemporary ones (Rapoport. while permitting a variety of responses. through a whole set of cues. people tended to respond appropriately and almost automatically. and the people in them-that explicates the meaning. and transactions by setting up the appropriate situations and contexts. understood. also. or for cross-cultural analysis. behavior is limited if the cues are noticed. there are shared. Since the "objective" and"subjective" definitions of situations may differ. The environment can thus be said to act as a mnemonic (Rapoport. negotiated meanings that follow certain rules. partly by providing referents and "lexicon" items (as discussed before). The possibility of refusal to act appropriately is a new problem that was never encountered in traditional contexts. It is thus the total situation-the setting. These involve certain social conventions and form a cultural code. Once the situation is defined culturally.80 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT case. The mnemonic function of environment The environment thus communicates. designers cannot influence this element. are present. the furnishings. as they can the other two: They can make certain that cues are noticed and. the linkages and separations in space and time-who does what. This was one of my criticisms of the symbolic interactionist model discussed above-that the meanings are not negotiated afresh each time. Also. these settings are much easier to interpret when the actors and audiences. environments cannot determine behavior since one can refuse to act appropriately).
less cultural information (Madge. as in the case of the Cuzco area of pre-Columbian Peru (see Isbell. if they are to work. In effect. or cultural conventions. particularly preliterate and vernacular environments. and taxonomies that are very important-but these form a different topic (Rapoport. It takes the remembering from the person and places the reminding in the environment. and behaviors that would make social communication and interaction impossible--or at least very difficult. cognitive schemata. 1 have already suggested that in traditional. This mnemonic function of the environment is equivalent to group memoy and consensus. the setting"freezesMcategories and domains.Environmental Meaning 81 where. this process also helps prevent purely idiosyncratic interpretations. and this depends on the cues being culturally comprehensible.t is intimately related to culture and suggests the idea that environments. The importance of decoding is also due to the fact that i. when. It has been argued that anxiety ("the disease of our age") is generated in an individual when he or she has to choose courses of action without having sufficient grounds on the basis of which to make up his or her mind. 1977). If this process works. but whole landscapes and cities can have that function. provide ever less information to help people make up their mindsless social information ("knowing your place. But environments can only do this if they communicate-if the encoded information $:an be decoded (see Figure 11). In effect. this process worked particularly well. it reduces the need for information processing. less environmental information. and with whom. ranges of behavior. . must be culture specific. This is usually considered on small scales. information is encoded in the environment and needs to be decoded. since one does not have to think everything out from scratch. This coding is also part of the general idea of ordering systems. At the same time. 1978). one can routinize many behaviors and make them habitualwhich is one of the functions of culture generally. By suggesting similar. 1976a. 1968) These are linked. since environmental cues and mneponics communicate social information and help make behavior more habitual (Rapoport. physical and social. forthcoming b). and limited. whereas in many contemporay environments it works less well (Rapoport." and s o on). In effect. being learned through enculturation (or acculturation in some cases). contemporary environments. How well this process works can be very important indeed. it makes behavior easier." "family. responses.
help strutture not only environments but also many behaviors. 1968). Hence thc conceptual similarity between an environmental (for example.Environmental Meaning 83 1977). 1956). where the basic process is precisely o n e of "reading" material elements. 1979c. in which it was pointed out that any artifact (in that case a pot) is the result of a set of choices among alternatives based on a "template" (Deetz. that is. how to co-act. In archaeology. and the behaviors if known. can help define the nature of the objects found in it. where alternatives are chosen o n the basis of schemata (Rapoport. since it is the nature of the human mind to impose order on the world (Rapoport. It thus encodes the template via a series of choices. This works on two ways: the objects. They guide. and relation between. When similar schemata control behavior and environments. help define the nature of the setting (on the difficulty of inferring behavior from archaeological data see Douglas. Miner. It is interesting to note that this model developed from reading a paper on archaeology. 1979). however. From our perspective here. This I have called the choice model of design. s o that all goods are part of an inforrnation system (Douglas and Isherwood. forthcoming ). 1968). being part of the culture core (Rapoport. 1976b) by workingthrough form (Douglas. and limit behavior without being determining. patterns of behavior and those artifacts called built environments is that the latter guide the former. the importance of "contextual analysis" has recently been stressed (see Flannery. it should be pointed out that these schemata. schemata. 1970). priorities. once and if known. Thus artifacts give expression to cultural systems that can b t seen primarily as informational systems. constrain. 1972. material and nonmaterial culture can be seen as congealed information (Clarke. architectural) style and a lifestyle-both represent a set of consistent choices among the alternatives available and possible. However. they remind people how to act. a more important consequence of the congruence of. we find maximum congruence between the meanings communicated by en- . 1976b. s o that any artifact encodes meanings. and the like. 1976a. 1976). 1977) that correspond to the notion of lifestyle as a choice among alternatives in allocating resources (Michelson and Reed.the setting. I will return to the question of archaeology because the f decoding o it is significant. Thus the meaning of archeological elements can be derived only if the context is known. 1975). artifacts as outcomes of cultural processes encode inforrnation. what to do.
color. 1980b). These eikonic and verbal systems work best when they are clearly related to the space organization-that is. and the like all have unequivocal meanings In modern environments. eikonic signs. and visible activities coincide. less clear than others. 1 9 8 0 ~ ) . Choay. we also know how to use the environment-in fact. This point has also been made by others (for example. when redundancy is increased Also important is consistency of use. has gone up and the number of message systems has also gone up (Rapoport. the more likely they are to be noticed and understood. The appropriate information and meanings reduce information loads by structuring the environment (a known environment is a simplified environment) and by structuring behavior correspondingly.84 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT vironments and the behaviors: culture as habitual behavior. as they communicate less effectively and surely than traditional urban and architectural spatial organizations. (1972) about the separation of space organization and the eikonic and verbal message systems in modern cities and Carr's (1973) argument about their proliferation as meanings communicated by space organization have become less clear. 1977. explains the effectiveness of traditional spatial organizations in communicating . what can be done? One important answer is that by increasing redundancy. domain definition. In the same way we know how to dress. 1968) that when space organization. eat. the likelihood of messages and meanings getting through is greatly increased (Rapoport. in fact. which tend to be less explicit. where they are much less clear. and s o on have had to be added and superimposed. many contemporary environmental meanings are not clear. location. The other is that as the scale and complexity of social systems have gone up. height. meaning is much clearer and urban form much more legible and memorable. the number of specialized settings. and if decoding (understanding the cues) becomes more difficult. the environment helps us engage in these behaviors appropriately. building form. In those latter. This is important in language (which is highly redundant) but even more s o in nonverbal or nonlinguistic messages. We can see this operating in urban environments in two senses. however. The first is the finding (Steinitz. scale. sign systems. which. shape. more difThe ferent systems communicate similar messages. and what manners to use. This helps us to interpret the point made by Venturi et al. 1980b. If. 1970-1971) on the basis of semiotic analyses. additional message systems of verbal signs. use voice and body. each with its special cues and appropriate behaviors.
1968). the environmental equivalent of knowing a number of languages This has been documented for Arabs in the United States and in their own hom<!lands (Hall. and the appropriate behavior. that they know what the context and the situation are. Traditional spatial organizations tended to be used in the same way in similar contexts and situations.Environmental Meaning 85 clear meanings. a Puerto Rican grocery store. what Barker is saying is that when people enter a setting. This happens s o naturally. an Anglo supermarket more Anglo behavior. and behavior. yet appropriately. But what does this different behavior imply? Although he does not make this point explicitly. and hence what the appropriate rules. Recall that this was also the point made above about the hypothesis that part of the success of chain operations of various types is precisely that they are used consistently and hence become highly predictable. of course. Much of what I have been saying is. In other words. during our regular activity systems. we cannot draw on the available cultural knowledge necessary. that is. is possible-people can act differently. Note that much of this is done through physical cues. We only notice the process when it ceases t o work. it implies that settings communicate appropriate behavior In fact. it is clearthat settings. 1971). also the point made implicitly by Barker (1968). In effect. the rules. in environmental terms as in others. 1966) and for Puerto Ricans in New YorkCity in settings belonging to their own and to Anglo cultures (Hoffman and Fishman. prices to be expected. play a most important-if not crucial-role. what behavior is appropriate. food. in a strange culture (part of the process known as "culture shock") In that case. the expected behavior-for example.Recall that a principal point of his work is that the same people behave very differently in different behavior settings. but the setting defines the situation. It is the situation that determines behavior. the Anglo work situation (and setting) . it is almost a corollary. Note an interesting point. This is. they communicate very effectively. defining situations. In the latter case. the environment. At the same time biculturalism.Thus a bodega. particular names and signs define not only environments but what they contain-types of beds. They define behavior settings in the full sense of the wordmilieu and the ongoing pattern of behavior (Barker. the rules that apply. elicits Puerto Rican behavior. how o n e needs to dress. and frequently. that we take it very much for granted. in fact. in sottings belonging to different cultures. when we d o not understand the cues. that setting provides cues that they understand. are.
since the cues are clearly neither verbal nor vocal. the role of fences as indicating places of transition and change. The specific role of environmental cues is shown by the case of the Lardil tribe of Australian Aborigines on Mornington Island. for example. the particular role of environmental cues was not considered in any detail. which environmental and social cues specify the nature of the setting so that the appropriate behaviors are elicited. we adjust our behavior in response to cues in the environment that define the situation and context for us and help guide our behavior along predetermined paths. Two things may be noted: first. 1979: 251). the mission station. that is. decode the meanings. and act appropriately. There. in a bush camp or a city. match them to the relevant and congruent schemata and cultural knowledge. Yet. Note that in these bicultural cases. from cafeteria to elegant restaurant. Aboriginal behavior also changes. is basically how we know that a setting is what it is. particularly since the environmental cues were quite distinct. many times every day we enter settings and places. yet these behavior shifts do make the basic point. these children spend some time in a traditional. given the approach being discussed. 1974)and each set of behaviors could be interpreted as appropriate to the particular setting." was clearly demarcated by fences.86 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT totally Anglo behavior. . as already noted. dress accordingly and appropriately before entering particular settings. described as "the compound. These fences became places at which "bush behavior" ceased and the new codes of mission behavior were observed (Memmott. In that study. agrarian sociophysical setting in the "bush" and part of their time in an urban setting. It is in dealing with this question that the nonverbal model seems useful. the different behavior in the different settings and. and SO on. The cues even act in a predictive sense: We anticipate behavior and. These are special cases. pick up the cues encoded in them. In this case. As we move from lecture hall to seminar room. A most striking example of biculturalism is provided by a study of children involved in the cyclic migration of the Abalyia subclan of the Bantu in western Kenya. The question. The children behave quite differently in the different settings (Weisner. second. in a white pub or an Aboriginal one. when in a work setting or a residential setting. to this day. settings often elicit both behavior and the corresponding language. in the early days of acculturation.
. I talie three points of departure: There are nonverbal behaviqrs that are both extremely prevalent and extremely important. will not be reviewed in any detail. by 1 9 7 2 . affect. identifying how they are interpreted by users-that is. These comprise fixed-feature. This discussion. This can be done easily and directly even without a major consideration of theoretical aspects of nonverbal communication. which is the reason for using it. these both provide the context for other behaviors and also occur and are to be understood in contexts. the particular meanings these cues have for human behavior.NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL MEANING I take the nonverbal communication approach to environmental meaning to be something conceptually rather simple. the extensive literature on nonverbal communication. some of which is becoming very sophisticated and some of which is also at a high level of abstraction. and s o on. the use of nonverbal models in studying environmental meaning involves looking directly at various environments and settings and observing the cues present in them. and informal (better nonfixed-feature) elements.semifixedfeature. For example. In order to keep it simple. once again. is best begun by referring to a set of distinctions that apparently are unrelated t o the topic and that were first proposed by Hall (1966). an annotated bibliography o n only some aspects of the subject contained 9 3 1 items (Davis. 1972) and the rate of publication has increased greatly since then. Basically. nonverbal behaviors have been studied primarily by observation and recording and subsequent analysis and interpretation.
as do streets and buildings in cities. it was marked by the introduction of the Blessingway as the central ceremonial ritual of Navaho religion. more peripheral. change (Rapoport. however. 1979c. also. and s o on. 1976. or those that change rarely and slowly. 1977). and floors-belong to that domain. Clearly. Pueblo-like structures and favored a return to a dispersed settlement pattern (Jett. For example.At the same time. Among the Bedouin. forthcoming ). ceilings. particularly for those ceremonies (including Blessingway) most identified with Navaho culture. the combination of settlement patterns and dwellings (which in the case of the Pueblo are inseparable) communicates clear meanings about group identity that are reinforced by many other. it is found that the settlement pattern seems more important than the dwelling (the hogan). the dispersed settlement pattern seems more important than the dwelling. but in all cases they are supplemented by other elements. Moreover. elements. when in 1 7 5 0 a nativistic revival of Athapascan culture occurred. and a variety of nonenvironmental means are used. Clearly. Applying this notion to the Navaho. not been given u p completely. this specifically proscribed the building of communal. There are cases. particularly in traditional cultures. language. 1978). although I have not seen any . nonenvironmental. Thus this settlement pattern both relates to the core values of the culture and contrasts with the other patterns around it. when they still tell us much.88 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Fixed-feature elements Fixed-feature elements are those that are basically fixed. other rituals. the ways in which these elements are organized (their spatial organization). Most of the standard architectural elements-walls. Interestingly. the hogan is invested with much meaning and is often used to identify the group s o that its presence or absence is a good indicator of the degree of acculturation (Snyder et al. hogans are typical of less acculturated Navaho and have. in any case. at the same time. arrangement. of course. 1978). location. Even individuals living in Anglo-type dwellings often build hogans in their backyards. one can suggest that in any given case there are core elements (corresponding to elements of the culture core) that will persist while others. do communicate meaning. their size. sequence.. This is particularly interesting since that dispersed settlement pattern is derived from the Navaho's Athapascan (Canadian) forebears and is both characteristic of them and differs in important respects from both their Pueblo neighbors and the dominant Anglo-American culture (Jett.
plants andNwhatnots. window displays in shops. ethnic.The pattern of a "libertarian s u b u r b in California. Note that these become particularly important in environmental meaning in our own context. occupational. kinship and lineage. These can. Also. curtains and otherfurnishings. even by outsiders Similarly. the people outside see ~tas negative. With changing values it could be seen as a special place. environmental preferences are frequently related to the degree of lack of outside control over personalization T h ~ is one important (although obviously not the only) s reason for the clear-cut preference for detached houses over other . and other urban elements (including the verbal and eikonic message systems discussed above). religious. advertising signs. and do.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 89 studies dealing with the meaning of that pattern. is that the ordering principles of fixed-feature arrangements have meaning. 1977). in and of itself. Fixed-feature elements are also under the control of codes. hierarchical (Hull. change fairly quickly and easily. the control is much less than for fixed-feature elements. and not negative. garden layouts and lawn decorations. 1 9 7 6 .S cities described by French observers as having n o order while U S. observers make the same comment about Moslem cities (Rapoport. Semifixed-feature elements Semifixed-feature elements range all the way from the arrangement and type of furniture. as a stigma. although o n e group's order may be another's disorder. k probably has such t meaning. and the like While personalization and even gardens are controlled to an extent. and the area as a slum." screens and clothing t o street furniture. which has important ideological messages for the builders and users (Barnett 1977). where they tend to communicate more than fixed-feature elements. regulations. They tend to form a given. 122)-rather than geometrical. What this suggests. traditional African cities were often seen as disorganized by Europeans because their order reflected human relationships-social. undoubtedly is seen by the surrounding residents as communicating disorder and messiness Thus the ordering schemata are culturally variable and their"readingn in each case draws on cultural schemata The people in the area see it as positive. Most people move into ready-made environments and fixed-feature elements are rarely altered. although the particular choice made does already communicate. however. Thus o n e finds U.
one of the earliest urban settlements. It is the relationships of these objects. Mexico. the use of porches consisting of roof and posts.90 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT forms of housing. If the "furnishings" were removed. and of the same materials. in the case of ancient Tollan. and with . it is particularly difficult to read fixed-feature elements alone in terms of their meaning. 1976. but also reemphasizes the importance of context. revert back to dwellings. which are identical to dwellings in plan. although some inferences can be made. and so on. and (4)the occupants (Swithebank.This stresses the importance of semifixed and nonfixed elements. Also. This was because they were covered in jewels and gold. culture! Once these decorations were removed. and people to the setting that have meaning and can be "read. Todd. in Catal Hiiyiik. of townhouses as opposed to high-rise apartments. about nonfixed-feature elements) is the rule in archaeology. For example. construction. 1967. At the same time. the distinction between residential rooms and shrines or ritual chambers is indicated primarily (although not exclusively) through semifixed elements of various sorts-that is. (2) the uses of space. never before seen. behaviors. in Hidalgo. Yet archaeology does provide a most useful paradigm since meaning must be derived from artifacts alone in making inferences about behavior. one could distinguish between front doors (decorated) and interior doors ("modest"). What is different are (1)the contents (sacred objects of various kinds). he "knew" temples even though they were the same height and size. Rapoport. and even decorations. in effect. when Pizarro first reached South America. 1964. 1979a). Thus it appears that semifixed environmental elements are of particular importance in studying meaning in our current environment. of ownership as opposed to renting. they are "furnished" differently and more lavishly than dwellings. Note that this was in a very different." The use of fixed-feature and semifixed-feature elements to make inferences about behavior (that is. these elements have been used to establish meaning from earliest times. as the dwellings. (3)the activities that occur within. status indications are reinforced by the width of entrances. 1969). with painted floors and wall plaster and decorative elements. although we have seen that this presents problems. they would convert back to "ordinary" rooms and dwellings (Mellaart. the buildings would. An even more striking example is provided by the Ashanti Fetish houses in Africa. Decorative facings were used differentially and seem to indicate status. Thus.
which were of varied sizes and heights. elite residential. In the case of the Aborigines. All that was left were the stone bases. These zones could be crosschecked by accessibility criteria. elite groups. since a prodigious amount of labor and material resources were used to modify the topography in order to implement the plan. in traditional societies fixed-feature elements communicate much more clearly. such as Australian Aborigines and the like.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 91 spacious rear rooms almost identical to temple structures at Teotihuacan. Since the planned layout was clearly important to the builders. 1972). the structures f were classified into large religious. one can conclude that the layout itself had important meaning. On the basis o these variables. Since. with houses with and without these status-indicating elements. suggest social relationships. and residential. it proved possible to see that overall planning was involved.Here it is the presence of semifixed-feature elements that clarifies the meaning of the space. providing another instance of meaning in terms of public/private domains. This difficulty has to d o with the problems of interpretation where many elements are missing and cultural knowledge is absent. ceremonial. one is dealing with a dwelling (Healan. 1977). and dance and initiation grounds often indis- . 1956). the hierarchy is easily read. Miner. as cities such as lsphahan or Marrakesh will show. In this case. the superstructures had walls of poles and roofs of palm thatch. It also has to d o with the existence of cultures with few fixed-feature or even semifixed-feature elements.First. these rooms include utilitarian-nonritual-objects. however. the meaning of structures was judged on the basis of size and the height to which stone extended Location also seemed important. like Maya dwellings. since not only were structures around any one plaza of one category. as is common in archaeology. Where ceremonial areas had low accessibility. 1972. the house groupings themselves. although this was greatly helped by semifixed-feature elements. The difficulty of making behavioral inferences from archaeological data has already been mentioned (see Douglas. not only are important areas such as sacredplaces. As already pointed out. story sites. but centrality was related t o importance-a religious core was surrounded by a ceremonial zone and a residential-center zone. that is. The specifics are less important than the fact that. the site could be read on the basis of its fixed-feature elements. it suggested that these particular activities were confined to special. How meaning can be read from archaeological data is shown v e y clearly by the Maya Center of Lubaantun in British Honduras (Hammond.
so that even today this inhibits the use even of furniture among Aborigines-it is easier to shift position when sitting on the ground (Memmott. In our own culture. 1978c). conceptually. including space organization. 1975a). These could n o t . without leaving their respective countries (Time. Upon the population's relocation after flooding due to the Aswan Dam. Thus in our own culture.92 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT tinguishable from the surrounding milieu. house and village forms were provided. the argument stands: It is possible to read the meaning of the environments. Another. even among Aborigines (Rapoport. 1979a). among Nubians. traditionally. or the cues are so subtle that they are difficult for outsiders to see. 1972). then ate lunch at the precise center of the bridge. both in domestic and nondomestic situations. Kuper. since it reflects sacred schemata. semifixed-feature elements tend to be used much-and are much more under the control of users. This is a photograph of two Latin American presidents. 1977: 13)-precisely those elements that are here termed semifixed. and hierarchy (such as among the Swazi people in Africa.. social structure. Lee. . which has to do with the difference between designers and users. Carlos Lleras Rostrepo of Colombia and Raul Leoni of Venezuela. For example. This may prevent "freezing" the environment. 1973. meeting in the center of a bridge spanning a river along their border. Thus it has been suggested that designers' stress on users' participation in the original design may be due to their own professional bias and training. 1969a). They embraced while toeing the border. Users. Yet while these cues are present and these places are being used. 1 9 6 7 ~see Figure 1 2 ) . and most unsuitable. new. 1979). Yet they have been ignored by both designers and analysts who have stressed fixed-feature elements.Yet while these behaviors occurthey can be read so that the meaning of spatial organization can be decoded and understood.Therefore. there is another possible reason why semifixedfeature elements may be more important. and the like (Becker. both house form and decorations were important (Fernea et al.it is also frequently necessary to keep spatial relationships fluid deliberately. their meaning can often be read quite clearly (Rapoport. contemporary example in which the semifixed elements disappeared when the event ended not only shows the meaning of space but also the significance of boundaries. hence they tend to be used to communicate meanings. arrangements. they also disappear rapidly. Among Aborigines. as among other nomadic groups (see Rapoport. to preserve avoidance and other interaction rules. may be much more interested in decisions about furnishings. it is suggested.
pictures. colors and other external decorations were changed immediately (particularly around doors. mailboxes. we find the whole range of elements subsumed under "personalization"-internally. street numbers. planting. trim. Lee. shutters. in the case of domestic situations. 1973)-a suggestive point regarding meaning. 1969a.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 93 -Figure 12 be changed.. the use of colors. however. furnishings. Fernea et al. and s o on. of colors. In our own culture. In nondomestic situations. we find the changes occurring in urban shops and in roadside strip buildings where the same fixed-feature elements can act as settings for dozens . decorations. materials. and the like. curtains. externally.
of facial expressions. and respectability-with "maintaining front" (Jopling. housing. for example. cars. but it is easy to think of examples if we have observed a shopping street or segment of roadside strip for any length of time. lighting (internally). behaviors. The distinction proposed between "duck" and "decorated shed" architecture (Venturi et al. people's clothing. one can observe gas stations converted for other uses.. their contents.94 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT of uses and activities through changes in the semifixed elementsdecor. This corresponds to the observation. and some decorative window panels. that is. This consisted of the selection of certain decorative objects (often brought from Puerto Rico) arranged in certain ways. 1972) can be interpreted in terms of fixed and semifixed elements: A "duck" relies on fixed elements to communicate its meaning. the use of specific colors. the use of particular furniture grouped in particular ways (space organization) and s o on. of course. Very few longitudinal studies have been done. clothing. the study of meaning will necessarily be primarily in the semifixed-feature realm. and a sign and front door (externally). signs. a "decorated shed" relies on semifixed and changeable elements. and s o so-that first led to the notion ofthe meaning of the particular choices made. a sign. and so forth. Note that it was observation-of rooms. Another example might be a gas station converted to a bank through the addition of a mansard roof (as flimsy as a sign). decorations. In one case. gestures. interactions. and body postures and relating them to the context of particular situations. it is a very direct and easy method to use. also has the economic advantage of being reused easily (see Rubin. it was found that a particular "aesthetic complex" was developed internally. chipboard. for example. in nonverbal analysis. Increasingly. a gas station was turned into an Italian restaurant through some minor changes in a limited number of semifixed elements in plaster. For example. considering a group of Puerto Ricans inhabiting public housing in the South End of Boston. and other devices were used as ways of communicating meanings having to do with group identity. . 1974). Given the fact that today most people move into ready-made environments. a front door with decorative walls.Note also that in nondomestic situations the meaning of particular elements becomes particularly easy to study: One can observe which elements are used for what and which are changed how when uses change. which communicated ethnic and other identity. This. Since external personalization was impossible. had meaning for the group. 1979: 354ff). and the like. cars.
it was through the observation of semifixed elements in living rooms (an inventory) that an understanding of the meaning of these settings was derived-that they represented "sacred spaces" (Zeisel. A great deal of room is needed to prepare the food. talk and interaction also begin (Esber. types of furniture and their arrangement. as well as domains of mentwomen. In the case of the Puerto Rican culture. Without large kitchens and living rooms. bathrooms. a woman is seen as a good hostess when she apparently does n o work. and provided cues as to where one should sit while entertaining and being entertained. a complex set of culturally specific meanings attached to different rooms-the living room as "semipubiic space. cooking involves the presence of others. When food is ready. " bedrooms as "private. Similarly. observation was the key to discovering these meanings. with much social interaction (associated activities). On arrival. The design implications were quite clear-an efficiency kitchen is unsuitable in this particular Puerto Rican housing because of the meaning of that setting. positivetnegative. Again. people could not behave appropriately. the living space setting has meaning in terms of the behavior expected of guests. This was clearly indicated by the zoning within the living room. and so forth (Kamau. A clear distinction in meaning was found between eating as a social activity involving entertaining visitors and eating for nourishment. which stressed the maximum possible spatial separa- . feasts are held that involve the entire community.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 95 Similarly. status is gained during a party through a hostess being seen to produce food. yet food appears as though by magic. 1972). Similar examples can be given from other cultures. far from others. where to eat. Curtains over doorways. 1973). and the like clearly communicated the above meanings. for the same ethnic group. and kitchens as "hiddenv-were communicated by furniture and furnishings as well as by visibility. one expects to sit peripherally around the room. During holidays." and lavatories. in Anglo culture. The cooperative effort and the social aspects and companionship are the important (latent) aspects of the action of cooking. In the case of the Apache. In Kenya. In the same study. in the case of kitchens. being seen in the kitchen. 1978t79). with no conversation. it was the observation of women's behavior in kitchens (nonfixed-feature elements) and the appliances in kitchens that clearly indicated the meaning in this culture of kitchens and their latent functions-very different to those of Anglo kitchens. but in New York City. and eating begins. This meaning had clear design implications. and "performing" in front of an audience of her peers.
eye contact. in all these cases. The task in applying the nonverbal model to environmental meaning is thus to move from the nonfixed-feature realm to the semifixed- . resembling semiotic and structuralist analysis in some cases. higher degree of cleanliness. and s o on. volume and pauses. In fact. living rooms are furnished in specific and distinct ways in terms of furniture. and therefore are hidden. rank is shown by the master bedroom being larger and having a better and larger bed. arrangements. they are also the women's domain. by such behaviors as anger. Nonfixed-feature elements Nonfixed-feature elements are related to the human occupants or inhabitants of settings. use of a bedspread. particularly. and dining table and chairs on the other. Note that the positive/negative nature of spaces reflecting the domains of men/women is found more generally. Again. and. hand and arm gestures. coffee table. fear. the study of nonverbal behavior has been developed in. associated activities. these complex findings. Bathrooms and kitchens are regarded as unclean and shameful. facial expressions. it is a projection of the way in which they wish others to think of them and of the ways in which family members interact. revulsion. Note two more things: First. it is the nonfixed-feature elements that form the subject of nonverbal communication studies. speech rate. and almost entirely restricted to. and is echoed in the correspondence between right/left and men/women (Needham. on the one hand. head nodding. the housekeeping abilities of the women. second. is done rather simply and in straightforward ways by observation of semifixedfeature elements and behavior-nonfixed-feature elements. and s o on. hand and neck relaxation. we are dealing with latent aspects of activities-how they are done. which provide information about the income of the men. end tables. their body positions and postures (kinesics). their meaning-so that these are critical in the congruence of setting and activity. their shifting spatial relations (proxemics). 1973). The questions commonly asked concern what is being communicated. or hidden. this domain. and many other nonverbal behaviors discussed previously. and the status of the family.96 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT tion between furniture groups: matched sofa and chairs (unmatched = less prestige). and the like. Among bedrooms. colors. and also what role these behaviors play in interaction. objects. or whatever.
Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning
and fixed-feature elements, but asking comparable questions: What is being communicated? Why and by what means? What role d o the cues play in behavior, social interaction, and so on? It is my argument, following what has already been said about semifixed elements, that the most productive first step is to try to bridge the gap between the work on nonfixed and semifixed elements, and to d o it in the simplest and most direct way-by assuming, on the basis of the discussion thus far, that the environment acts as a form o nonverbal communication, f and proceeding from there by direct observation, the analysis of existing studies, the content analysis of descriptions, and the like. Some suggestions for the validity of this approach can be found in nonverbal communication studies in the nonfixed-feature realm. For example, one can use more than facial expressionsof emotion and use the face itself-as an outcome of facial expressions over years. Thus it has been suggested (Ekman, 1978) that face information consists of facial sign vehicles that can be:
statrc-These change, but very slowly Included are bone structure, the size, shape, and location of eyes, brows, nose, mouth, or skin pigmentation-what one could call features. slow--These change more rapidly and include bags, sags, pouches, creases, wrinkles, blotches, and the Irke. raprd-These change very rapidly and Include movements, skin tone, coloration, sweat, and cues such as eye gaze direction, pupil size, head posit~oning, and so on. artif~c[al--These include glasses, cosmetics, face lifts, wigs, and the like.
The last category, of course, relates to clothing, settings, and furnishrngs that, with the face and body, lead to judgment of peopleperson perception, stereotypes, and the like (Warr and Knapper, 1 9 6 8 ; Ekrnan, 1978).Like these others, facial characteristics are used to judge personal identity (race, gender, kinship), temperament, personality, beauty, sexual attractiveness, intelligence, state of health, age, mood, emotions, and s o on. While the face is said to be the most commonly employed identity sign, clothing, furnishings, and settings are also thus used Note also the interesting similarity of the division above into static, slow, and rapid with fixed-feature,semifixed-feature, and nonfixed-feature environmental elements. For o n e thing, there has been at least some work on the meaning of semifixed elements, although not nearly as advanced as that on non-
THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
fixed. I have already referred to the use of inventories. These have long been used in anthropology. Also, as early as the 1930s, the condition and cleanliness of living rooms, furniture, and furnishings, their "orderliness" and impression of "good taste," which appear subjective, proved to be very effective indicators of social status (Chapin. 1938: 754, note 8)and, indirectly, lifestyle and the effect of rehousing. Although this finding was reported only in a footnote. it seems generally accepted and agreed that combinations of intentional and unintentional displays of material things, including humans, set the scene for social encounters. In judging public housing and other environments, the negative meaning of trash, bad maintenance, vermin, and other objects that communicate stigma has been used for some time (Rainwater, 1966). The contrary is also true-good maintenance and upkeep, cleanliness, underground wires, greenery, and the like all communicate positive messages and result in perceptions of high environmental quality, desirability, and satisfaction. This will be discussed in some detail later (see also Rapoport, 1977, ch. 2; Burby et al., 1976).The fact that physical elements in the environment are read easily and directly as indicators of social characteristics, and hence guides for behavior, has now been confirmed amply (Royse, 1969). Note also that in discussing the use of photography in the social sciences (Wagner, 1979), it is taken for granted and self-evident that photographs (that is, visual images of nonfixed-semifixed-and fixedfeature elements of the world) can be interpreted. Thus in studies of skid row, shabby personal appearance, drinkingin public, and thesettingof door stoops and alleys in a dirty part o f the city (Wagner, 1979: 31; emphasis added) match the public image of derelicts. In other words, they communicate "skid row" by being congruent with people's cognitive schemata. Photos of skid row settings communicate this through the types of people (their faces, clothing, postures, activities, and s o on), the ambience, signs (such as signs saying "loans," "barber college," "Bread of LifeMission," type of hotel sign), and also the types of other shops visible. " One can clearly identify towns by the kind of clothing people wear, buildings, shop signs, and so on (Wagner, 1979: 147).A photographic record of a home setting would reflect religiosity, ethnicity, and elements of history, and might provide insights into psychological processes by revealing order or disorder (more correctly the nature of the order) through the artifacts and their arrangement, the inhabitants, their age, and "passage of life" (as shown by face, hands, and posture). Clothing
Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning
would indicate economic well-being, taste, and possibly profession, while the manner in which it is worn and the posture might indicate psychological and emotional states (Wagner, 1979: 273). In other words, the nonfixed-semifixed- and fixed-feature elements would tell us much. In fact, such cultural inventories are s o useful that, in the case of Native Americans in cities, the success of relocation can be measured reliably by the style and order of each home (Wagner, 1979: 281). The analysis of U.S. urban landscapes and suburban dwellings also involves aspects of this kind of analysis although the approach is different (Venturi et al., 1 9 7 2 , 1 9 7 6 ;Venturi and Rauch, 1976).Starting from a very different philosophical, ideological, and methodological position, Baudrillard (1968) has developed the notion that significantly, he calls le systeme des objects-"the system of objects." This corresponds to the notion of "the world of gootis" (Douglas and Isherwood, 1979) and to the notion of an "object language" (Ruesch and Kees, 1965) that describes the messages encoded in material form, and that communicate their meaning both by their nature (material, shape, color, and so on) and through their arrangement, that is, their relationship to other elements (what I have called "context"). In fact, Ruesch and Kees's very early book on nonverbal communication is still possibly the most useful for our purposes. Since it is priorto most research in the field, and t h l s lacks some of the theoretical and methodological sophistication of more recent work, it comes closest to applying this approach to the environment, particularly to semifixed elements. It explicitly concentrates on pragmatics and stresses visual cues, observation, and context, employing both descriptions and photographs. Among issues considered are how roles are judged through clothing, activities, background and props; how groups, from dyads up, are identified by the settings and clothing that indicate the social situation; and how the rules of action are suggested by settings. Examples of shop windows, which indicate value and price through display techniques, houses, and neighborhoods are given. The stress is on the atmosphere or ambience of settings that indicates the activities in them, so that urban areas can be identified as commercial, industrial, or tourist. Similarly, the status of districts can be read and shops, bars, and restaurants prov~de cues for particular clientelesbohemians, gourmets, neighborhood regulars, or connoisseurs. The book discusses how physical arrangements of settings guide, facilitate, and modify social interaction; how the physical environment expresses various identities-individual and of groups It relates sign
THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
language (gestures), action language (walking, drinking, and s o on), and object and spatial language (that is, nonfixed-, semifixed-, and fixed-feature elements). It concentrates on semifixed-feature elements (although it does not use that term), and stresses the nonverbal aspects of verbal messages, for example, the nature of lettering in terms of style, materials, color, and s o on. It even addresses the issue of the interplay of biology and culture in nonverbal communication1 and also has much to say about the importance of redundancy (which is called "mutual reinforcement"). All in all, Ruesch and Kees's book is not only still the most relevant published application of nonverbal communication to environmental meaning, it is also a veritable agenda for much research. It is a pity that it was not really followed up in the further development of nonverbal communication research. But even that provides a methodological approach based on observation, whlch is also summarized elsewhere, for awide range of behaviors, including nonverbal, spatial, and others (see Weick, 1968). Context greatly influences social interaction. While social context has rather dramatic and important effects upon interpersonal interaction, they are rarely taken into account; similarly, physical and other aspects of the total environmental contexts tend to be ignored (Lamb et al., 1979: 265, 269). Note that social interaction is studied by observation of nonfixed-feature elements and their subsequent analysis. The transfer of this approach to analyze semifixed- and flxedfeature elements makes things easier: the problem of the tempo of events, the fleeting yet critical cue, is missing. One has more time. There are also many studies that, while nonexplicitly in this tradition, can easily be interpreted in this way; we have already discussed some, others will be discussed in more detail later. The approach adopted here begins with an emphasis on semifixedfeature elements (although it is not confined to those). Some reasons for this have already been given. There is another: It can be shown that nonfixed and semifixed elements tend to covary, while the fixedfeature elements remain unchanged in the same situation. Consider an example of a conference that was photographed over a period of several days (Collier, 1967). At the beginning, people sat around maintaining formal body posture, formally dressed, wearing their identity labels. They maintained formal proxemic distance and their body language communicated comparable messages. They held coffee cups and saucers on their knees. At the end of several days all these nonfixed cues had changed-nothing was formal, personal distance
Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning
was greatly reduced, body contact was often present, body posture was extremely informal, clothing expressed relaxed informality, coffee cups and other elements were scattered all over. The meaning of the nonverbal messages was quite clear. But it suddenly struck me that the furniture arrangements, the coffee cups, ashtrays, and the like, by themselves-that is, without the people present-would have communicated almost the whole story; a great deal of the meaning had been encoded in the semifixed realm. Nothing, however, could be deduced from the fixed-feature elements-the walls, floors, and ceilings. Note also that, at least initially, the arrangement of the semifixed elements (furniture) had an impact on human communication and interaction and guided it in specific ways. Since our task is to apply to semifixed- and fixed-feature elements the nonverbal communication approach developed primarily in the nonfixed-feature realm, it is useful to begin with a brief review of that.
The nonverbal communication approach
In the nonfixed-feature realm many lexicons of the meanings of animal expressions and actions have been compiled, for example, of dogs,gulls and other birds, primates, and s o on (for a recent review of some of these, see Sebeok, 1977b).In the caseof humans the work of Ekman and his collaborators, Eibl-Eibesfeld, Birdwhistell, Hall, and others shows that a start has been made. Given the existence of some lexicons at least, the question is really twofold: Is the lexicon itself, that is, the set of possible devices, culture specific or universal? And, even if the lexicon is universal, d o sets get picked that have universality (or commonality) or are they culture specific? There are three major views about nonvertjal communication in the nonfixed-feature realm:
(1) That it is an arbitrary, culture-specific system, hence s~milar language to in that respect For example, there is an assumption of an analogy between kinesic behavior and language (see Birdwhistell, 1970, 1972) An extreme statement is that nonverbal behavior may be as culture behavior (Lloyd, 1972: 25). bound as I~riguistic (2) That i t is a pan-cultural, species-specific system and thus very dlfferenf from language (see Eibl-Eibesfeld, 1970, 1 9 7 2 , 1979)
1972). neutralize.The suggestion is that in the case of facial expressions. deamplify or deintensify. The conflict between the two points of view can be approached in aqother way. 1969b. The outcome is a particular facial display. then.What then is the role of culture? The model proposed (the "neuro-cultural" model. which. which may have different degrees of cultural and biological components. Nonverbal behavior in the nonfixed-feature realm involves origins. recognized. or at least v e y widely indeed. 1972. anger. are due to differences in elicitors and display rules. blend. interest. but so are many consequences of an aroused emotion (such as whether it is expressed or hidden). Note that not only are the elicitors of facial expression socially learned and culturally variable. Leach. however. or how these behaviors become part of a person's . Some of the different findings may be due to the examination of different activities. This is clearly not a languagelike system. there is a universal. memory. Ekman. gestures versus facial expressions. Ekman. what is allowed where and when. 1977) resolves these two points of view in one way (the third approach above. 1872). In the case of the first two of these views. that is. 1972). and s o on. pan-cultural affect program involving facial muscles and their movements in association with states such as happiness. 1969b. or mask the affect program. disgust. The elicitors of these. expectation. then. if it is displayed (that is. Ekman and Friesen. situation. sadness. based on setting. the facial muscular movement for a particular emotion.102 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT (3) A resolution of these conflicting views in an interesting model that. These. actually incorporates aspects of both (Ekman and Friesen. if displays rules d o not interfere and inhibit it) are dictated by an affect program that is pan-human and universal. has affect and behavioral consequences in social interaction. fear. seem to be nonarbitra y and biologically based (see Darwin. are culturally variable as are the display rules. and so on. The cultural differences. while rejecting the linguistic approach and concerned with how nonverbal behavior communicates feeling states. These amplify or intensify. for example. and hence the blend. At the same time. Cross-cultural studies by Eibl-Eibesfeld and Ekman and his collaborators indicate the existence of certain universal pan-cultural elements in facial expressions that seem universally. the argument is essentially about evolutionary versus linguistic models (Eibl-Eibesfeld. when interpreted. Ekman. although the elements of expression are universal (see Figure 13). surprise. 1972).
and coding. exhibiting least awareness (notethat one can have objectadaptors-a potential link to our subject). relationship to associated verbal and vocal behaviors. The argument about whether such behavior is innate. culture-specific extrinsic codes with no visual resemblance to what they signify. usage. On the basis of the three types of coding. Although even here one expects some commonalities across cultures. 1972. 1976) and are the most "languagelike" (Ekman. Thus emblems. the circumstances of its use. illustrators. onethen finds three classes of nonverbal behaviors (for example. and arbitrary. illustrators-These augment or contradict what is being said. or culture (or other group) specific applies mainly to origins. members of a group. and are deliberately used for messages.with precise meanings known to all. the more the influence of biology . adaptors-These are the least intentional. pan-human. 1969b). being closer to language than illustrators or adaptors. Usage seems clearly culture specific since it deals with the external conditions such as environmental settings. so that the sender takes responsibility for them. and whether the information is shared or idiosyncratic. or most. show more influence of culture. situations. 1975). for example. most intuitive. Different groups have different emblem repertoires. These can also be described as "symbolic gestures" (Ekman. the rules that explain how the behavior conveys information (Ekman and Friesen. and is of three types: intrinsic. these tend to be hidden by the cultural differences. or culture specific. which is eikonic and the act is the meaning. roles. These tend to be studied using procedures derived from social psychology and linguistics. although the appearance of the behavior is like what it means. 1971). but have less precise meanings than emblems.. the further from language. eikonic but extrinsic. emblems-These have exact verbal translations. hand gestures): adaptors.104 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT repertoire (which is not of major interest here). based on biology. and emblems (Ekman and Friesen. 1977). as in the case of adaptors and illustrators.which tends to correspond to language as in the case of "elaborated or "restricted" codes (see Bernstein. Johnson et al. Coding varies in terms of universality versus cultural specificity. awareness of emitting the behavior and intention to communicate feedback from others. 1976). varying in size (Ekman.
the case. generic meaning. 1972). 1966). selective symbolism. are culture specific. In effect. in fact. and the analysis of historical illustrations and descriptions were also used (Morris et al. facial expressions versus gestures. o n e would expect them to be even more significant across types of nonverbal behaviors. Apart from the fact that a lexicon can be prepared. While these distinctions are proposed within the domain of gestures. Recently an attempt has been made to study what are clearly emblematic gestures mainly through ~nterviews-that is. This. still others have boundaries within linguistic areas (often due to identifiable historical events). and may be meaningless in some cultures. for example. Hinde. some of the find~ngs significant for our purposes.. others extend across national and linguistic boundaries. distinctive feature. particularly if studied verbally This is. an examination of the . their distribution may be wide or may be restricted to small groups (their geographic distribution was plotted s o that the lexicon also shows spatial distribution). some of these meanings may be in conflict in different places Some gestures have truly national meanings. Findings indicate that most of the gestures studied have several varied major meanings (some even in a single region). or emblems. 1979). then.A total of 2 0 of these gestures and their meanings were studied cross-culturally in 40 localities in 2 5 countries of Western and Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. While meanings clearly do vary. and still others are restricted to particular subgroups in a given population. using 15languages. 1977. 1970.and gestures (Efron.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 105 and the less cultural variability is to be expected (Ekman. illustrators. the attempt was to build a lexicon of meanings by compiling diagrams of gestures both illustrated and described-the basic morphology. Since they can stand for abstract qualities. spatial relations (Hall. One woultJ also expect emblematic gestures to be most languagelike. and culture specific than facial expressions. provides another way of resolving the argumentcontradictory findings may be due to the analys~sof different behaviors: adaptors. 1972). verballyalthough direct observation. The gestures studied were assumed t o vary from culture to culture. they therefore depend on convention. It seems intuitively likely that body positions (Birdwhistell. Gestures change with t ~ m e at different rates. and specific message of each. still and cine photography. 1941) are more arbitrary. emblemlike. and apart from are methodological implication.
one cannot. are there any universals-or are they all culturally variable? This is difficult to answer: So far there are no lexicons and hardly any research (which is urgently needed). 1 9 7 2 . The question. say whether the elicitors and display rules alone are variable or whether the elements are also. controlled versus natural. then.and fixed-feature elements-that is. however. furnishings. light quality greenery. textures. size. height. paving. 1977: 229230).presence of planting. furniture.Among these one can suggest the following as being particularly relevant (although this is not an exhaustive list): physical elements vision: shape. type of planting. even if the former applies. But one may examine some of the evidence and some of what is known in a speculative mode. scale. are there are commonalities in which specific cues get selected to communicate particular meanings (or are used to infer meanings). or is that particular repertoire culture specific? A list of possible potential cues is easily listed(Rapoport. etc.106 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT histograms shows that many gestures have much more common meanings than others: constancy seems to be a matter of degree rather than being an either/or situation.or fixed-feature realms. Put differently. light levels. Second. the cultural variability and specificity tends to increase. the question is twofold: Is the set of elements constituting noticeable differences in the environment. which have also been studied cross-culturally. hand gestures-particularly these emblematic ones-seem more variable than facial expressions. materials. spaces: quality. light and shade. barriers and links. and upon which the designer in the broadest sense (Rapoport. shape. etc. enclosing elements. 1 9 7 7 ) can potentially draw. decorations. details. Thus as one moves from facial expressions and adaptors through illustrators to emblems. are these elements primarily adaptorlike. illustratorlike. graffiti. is what happens as one moves into the domain of semifixed. order versus disorder . or emblemlike? In tying to apply this model to environmental cues in the semifixed. size. color. That evidence seems somewhat equivocal. but there does seem to be considerablevariability. universal or culture specific? Within that set. arrangement age-new versus old type of order.
hills or valleys. or other travel modes. plantsand gardens. and is thus fairly common-the higher off the ground. pedestrians. flowers. etc. if we consider planting. sleeprng. shops. traffic.). etc objects signs. their dress. cars. markets.traffic. recreatron. human-made sounds (industy. and sex. separated and un~form versus mtxed. either in person or in building form. actlvrtles and uses lntenslty. rellg~ous. etc. advertisements. s o u n d sound quality-dead versus reverberant. This use of . etc socral elements people languages spoken. nolsy versus quiet. decor. cook~ng. possessions. etc. as we shall see later. etc. as for example. certainly in the sense of relative size or scale. blrds. suggestsculturalvariability. restaurants. occupation.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 107 perceived density level of maintenance topography-natural or human-made location-prominence.If we consider height. that is. behavior. fences. foods. resident~al. playlng. centrality versus periphery. the sea.. "pleasant" versus "unpleasant. exposed or hidden. trees. the very fact that different plant complexes in gardens are easily identifiable with particular ethnic groups. etc temporal differences of various kinds For example.Yet the importance and sanctity of the temple as a whole is expressed in terms of height in both cases (see Figure 15)." foods and the type of food. physical type. etc ) versus natural sounds (wind. may well be an important universal category for indicating the meaning importance. age. talk. fairs. music. it is usually related to status. Thus height. such as industry. the higher the status-but some interesting reversals can occur. clubs. etc versus plants. in the sense of above/below (in context). laughter. type-such as industry. the temple as a whole vis-a-vis the houses and other urban elements. temporal changes In sound smells human-made versus natural. eatlng. water. between North and South Indian temples. where the height gradient in its relation to the degree of sanctity is reversed (see Figure 14).
do Figure 14 50l-K~ I N ~ t k O T5hl\fI-f55 ~prpoit>fa- height is s o common cross-culturally (both in building elements and location) that examples soon become too numerous to handle. consider just the cathedral in a medieval city. or the Haus Tambaran in a Sepik River village in New Guinea (see Figure 16).108 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT $ o m P. churches in towns and neighborhoods. .
with implications for the design of buildings and settlements. If we consider centrality. 1977. While in most cases right is seen as positive and left as negative. the centrality of color in semantic space mbkes this question worth addressing briefly. It may be useful to consider color in more detail. even today. They are also much less noticeable as cues. nobles had raised houses and slaves were allowed only on the ground floor. While this discussion is not directly relevant to the question of meaning. 1976). per se.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 11 1 Note also that in traditional Thailand. there are cases in which this does not seem to be the case (that is. the "high table. and hence not perceived con . which tend to be more ambiguous (Miller and Johnson-Laird. thrones. Similarly. It is also found that the distinction or opposition between right and left. for example. where there is n o relation) and still others (such as the contemporary United States) in which reversals occur (Rapoport. The differences. while critical in the organization of the perceptual world. we find that while in most traditional societies central location is related to high status. are inherently ambiguous by themselves and also operate much less effectively in the associational realm. in Cambodia. spatial relations. although universal-possibly related to our bodies' bilateral symmetry-is more variable in terms of meaning. commoners were restricted to leaves or thatch (Giteau. 1971). 1977). between the United States andltaly (or even France) constitute almost a reversal (Rapoport. the context plays a role. whereas color is highly noticeable. Needham. and even crawling on one's belly in the nonfixed domain also come to mind. particularly since that which is not named." and so on in the semifixed-feature domain and of bowing. genuflecting. commoners always had to be lower than nobles. kneeling. Yet the constrast between central versus peripheral location seems s o widespread as to be almost universal. This may partly help explain the greater utility of semifixed-feature elements for communicating meaning: Spatial relationships. and n o o n e could be higher than the king.once again. since there is evidence that it is o n e of the clearest noticeable differences (Rapoport.Some recent evidence suggests that color is much more clearly located in semantic space than are. redundancy was increased by restricting the use of tile roofs to nobles. Schnapper. 1973). there do exist rare cases of reversals (as in the case of China. The question of specificity or universality in color applies to its perception and naming as well as the meaning. 1977: 49). The use of podia. 1976).
There thus seems to be a clear. there are regional differences (Sommer and Estabrook. 1969). and so on. or weakest form (for a good brief review. White is identified with east.112 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT sciously. is unlikely to have major meaning and hence to be used as a cue. 1972: 150). and the persistence of color as an attention-eliciting dimension vary with culture (Lloyd. the salience of color. even in the United States. which are clearly ranked. yellow with west. and black with north. if so. one accepts the increasing variability as one goes from manifest to latent functions (that is. 1974). blue with south. east and south (white and blue) are male. whereas west and north (yellow and black) are female (Lamphere. where. At first glance. There does seem to be a universal. This relation between colors and cardinal directions is formed also in other cultures. see Lloyd. 1972). . from which various cultures draw all eleven or fewer. whether in the strong. however.Color'sposition in the developmental sequence among children also varies (Suchman.In the latter case this may be related t o the identification of colors with directions. and s o on. pan-human inventory of eleven basic perceptual color categories. whereas it has the opposite meaning in Buddhism. In some cultures. In this area there also has been much argument. however. while all human beings can discriminate color. there are two temporal orders in this evolutionary sequence (Berlin and Kay. one would expect to find more variability and greater cultural specificity for meaning than for perception or naming. this seems to be the case. If three are used. particularly whether the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (that language influences perception) applies at all and. have two of the categoriesblack and white. if four. weak. such as the United States. 1961: 104). 1966). colors are explicitly ranked in terms of goodlbad (Hall. fixed sequence of evolutionary stages through which languages must pass as their color vocabulary increases. Each is also related to specific phenomena. black. then red is next. whereas among the Navaho. All languages. either green or yellow (but not both). meaning) and from the concrete to the symbolic object. jewels. for example. color use seems to be arbitrary or random. particular mountains. birds. but it appears that. the number of named categories. 1969). the Nazis used yellow as a stigma color. But the evidence for the greater variability and cultural specificity between color and meaning is somewhat equivocal and ambiguous. If.The whole range of positions has been taken. and so on. however. Also. or purple. these relations are not explicit and hence not widely shared and more idiosyncratic. Thus the color of mourning can be white.
for example.Thus. could become despair (Blanch. generally. English. (2) the Old Testament. ( 3 ) Greek and Roman mythology. by contrast with noncolors. white positive (Stabler and Goldberg. which normally stood for youth and hope. 1970) Black artd white thus evoke positive and negative affective associations and meanings These are more polarized in the West. and white Americans. White is rated positively by Hong Kong Chinese. and s o on. where black and white tend to harmonize more and are seen more in terms of a complementary balance of opposites.. The colors used had four sources: (1)ancient religious archives and ceremonies of Iran. color meaning of nature This included red for power (blood). (b) combinations of colors to give tints corresponded to compound meanings. and in terms of increasing the redundancy of other cues.green for youth and hopefulness (spring). There were clear and explicit rules for using color: (a) only pure colors were to be used. most of the city was low and gray. Sim~larly. reversing the "natural" meaning-thus green. some Africans. and American Indians. one finds many examples of explicit color meanings. Mongols. India. that is. the sacred and hierarchically important section was centrally located. 1972). though. than. yellow for warmth and fruitfulness (sun). that colors generally d o have meaning. both in themselves. and (4)based on the other three. and higher.Thus the . Although there may be exceptions. Thus. 1972). Danes. 1973). not only in Western culture but among Siberian tribes. It is quite clear. the evidence suggests considerable cross-cultural generality in the meaning of black and white and other colors and color names (Williams et al. black generally has negative connotations. Moreover. larger in scale. For example. 1973) modified by culture. and Egypt. in Japan.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 113 Thus the practice of using colors and color names t o communicate affective meaning is found in many widely different cultures. These two colors seem t o involve universal meanings (Goldberg and Stabler. white is very commonly seen as positive and black as negative. and the use of colors was restricted to that section. more elaborate. Germans. although even in Japan white is still preferred. in ancient Peking. Asian Indians. where black has extremely negative meaning. both white and black children in the United States attach negative meanings to black and positive meanings to white (Stabler and Johnson. and (c) the rule of opposites. China. whereas black 1s uniformly negative. while a few exceptions exist. One example is the complex color symbolism of medieval times2 based on the notion that every object has mystical meaning.
While every culture has had its own expressive system of color meanings. Based on this.114 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT use of color constituted an arbitrary system that needed knowledge of the cultural context to be read. that is. It seems partly a matter of the kinds of cues. it is the presence or absence of color in a context-color as a noticeable difference-that is important.. already discussed) where it is further reinforced by location. gestures or facial expressions. such as emblems or adaptors. and there were hence some variations. may stand out in a polychrome. a monochrome building (a church) reinforced by a change of materials. age-old or new-also may indicate importance or status. nonverbal communication proper. it has been suggested that since in all cultures colors are related to affect and mood. form (domes and towers). One also findsacorrespondingly common reflection among humans in the widespread . More importantly. In the case of materials or forms. emphasis.or fixed-feature elements. size. It usually indicates something special or important. In areas of overlap between nonfixed features and semifixed. Thus in the case of Rumanian village churches. stuccoed setting (such as Mexico) or in a whitewashed setting (as in the case of Astuni in Apulia. such as a church. Although it seems rather equivocal. In such an environment a whitewashed building. thus the role of color in a monochrome or natural (for example. the contrast is achieved through the use of an archaic form. the cross-cultural generality of the meanings of colors other than black and white has also been strongly argued (for example. in the case of Pueblo Kioas. the result is a widespread stereotyping of colors (Aaronson. For example. 1970). these have been widely shared among cultures (Kaplan. vis-a-vis dwellings. Alternatively. as in the cases of Peking or Isphahan already discussed. height. the same condition exists. may stand out. and since much of this relation is based on association with natural phenomena and the physiological impact of colors. was obtained by the use of new materials. There is clearly some uncertainty about the degree of constancy even in the nonfixed-feature realm. 1970). and elaboration. There is also the fact that colors seem to have some striking commonalities in their physiological effects. see Williams et al. such as levels of arousal. 1975). and more generally. Yet many such arguments are not fully convincing. as in the Altiplano of Peru or the Pueblos in New Mexico. mud brick) environment. male genital displays are extremely common among infrahuman primates. such as natural stone.
Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning
use of phallic figures as guardian f~gures markers (Eibl-Elbesfeld, and 1979:43-46) found In many periods and among cultures as d~verse as Europe, Japan, Africa, New Guinea, Polynesia, Indonesia, and anc~ent South America, to mention just a few In general, though. the survey above and other evidence suggests that in the case of environments, wh~le constancies exist, the repertoire or palette grows and there is more variability and cultural specificity Thus the reversals one finds In the meaning of environmental elements are striking Mountains that were desplsed become sublime with the rise of the Romantic Movement (Nicolson, 1959); Roman ruins that were pagan, and hence evil, become remnants of a golden age with the Renaissance ( a s described in Rapoport, 1970b, above); the urban center has highly positive meaning in Italy and France, and negative meaning in the United States(Rapoport, 1977);the meaning of urban settlements vis-a-vis wilderness completely reverses in the United States in a comparatively brief time (Tuan, 1974: 104-105) If we compare Australian Aborigines and Northwest Coast Indians of North America, we find that among the latter the settlement pattern is determined by ecological and economic considerations; it is the dwellings, determined by ritual considerations, that are the bearers of meaning. Among the former, however, dwellings seem to respond mainly to instrumental forces (although this has recently been questioned; Reser, 1 9 7 7 ) while the settlement patterns, in thls case the movement pattern and relationship to the land (in themselves highly culture specific), are based on ritual and are most meaningful (Rapoport, 1975a, forthcoming c). It thus appears that as one moves from the nonfixed realm, through clothing, to the semifixed- and finaliy fixed-feature elements, the repertoire, or palette, grows and there is ever more variability and specificity related to culture. In other words, the trend is to a more "languagelike" model, but one that is less arbitrary than language. Ekman's neuro-cultural model, however. comprising both constant and variable elements, seems useful, as does the notion of a global lexicon, which may be broadly l~mited certain types of elements; from to that, different groups may select repertoires more or less restricted in size and more or less constant in usage We will know more when lexIcons arc developed and cues are studied historically and crossculturally At the same time, one can see a constant tendency to stress differences-height, color, age, location, materials, layout, shape, or what-
THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
ever are used to establish and stress differences. In most cases, a distinction or noticeable difference tends to be established between various elements; it is these that express meanings. For example, domains, such as sacredjprofane, frontjback, tnen/women, public/ private, and soon, are distinguished; distinctive cues indicate that. The process seems universal, the means variable. There are probably limits to the means available and certain likely, or even almost inevitable, things might happen. Height will tend to be used and in most cases does indicate importance or sacredness; color will tend to be used even if specific colors vary; orientation tends to be significant, even if specific directions vary; centrality (for example, navel of the world, axis mundi) is common-although its meaning may be reversed; size or degree of elaborateness and other comparable elements will tend to recur and even tend to be used in certain ways rather than others. Thus height in the North and South Indian Temples is, in o n e sense, used in opposed ways in making sacredness within the temple, but in opposing temple/town height is still used to mark the sacred. This corresponds, for example, to the relation of updown = sacred: profane or pure:polluted found among the Kwaio in the Solomon Islands (Keesing, 1979) and many other cultures. It is interesting to examine status, hierarchy, prestige, and power. For one thing, they are related to social rank or dominance and these are almost universal, not only in humans but among many animals. In higher animals, status is related to attention. Human prestige striving is homologous with primate self-dominance, but the primate tendency for seeking high social rank is transformed into self-esteem, which is maintained by seekingprestige; the self or group is evaluated as higher (a significant word!) than others. To get attention, distortions of perception and cognition are used. In traditional cultures, culturally patterned strategies are used for this; culture contact often destroys these (Barkow, 1975).The built environment is one of these strategies, and in trying to establish prestige, height is, in fact. a very commonly used cue. If we examine how space and physical objects communicate rank and power, we find height frequently used, although clearly this can only be understood in context. Many examples can be found. One very striking one has to do with the way rank was communicated in palaces. It appears that the Emperor of Byzantium had a throne that rose through mechanical means while those before him prostrated themselves (see Canetti, 1962)-a real-world analogue of the well-
Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning
known scene in Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator Other examples from Bangkok, Cambodia, and other places have already been given. This klnd of cue is, I suspect, almost universally understood. Horizorltal space can also be used in this way, as in Versailles, Hitler's chancery (Blomeyer, 1 9 7 9 ) ,or in the well-known example of Mussolini's office; many executive offices also use this. Redundancy is also used clearly to communicate rank and power clearly-height, horizontal space, decoration, materials, guards, and so on. Thus one can consider the palace of the pharaoh in ancient Egypt as a "ruling 1972).Here a wide variety of architectural manipmachine" (Uph~ll, ulation and ornament was used to produce a suitable feeling of awe in visitors. Note the implication that it was self-evident to all and that we can still s o interpret it. The palace was a set of messages to communicate awe and subservience: absolute size, scale, settings, approach, spatial sequence, color, doorways, paneling, and other decoration, courtiers, costumes, furnishings, and many other elements were used to create a setting overwhelming in itself-and even more so in the context of the typical mud-brick villages and even larger houses. This contextual impact is, of course, critical in understanding any environment-a New England town in the seventeenth century in its clearing of fields contrasting with the dread forest; any humanized area in a real wilderness (such as a v~llage prehistoric times; Rapoport, 1979b); in major monumental complexes or spaces, such as the Acropolis in the context of ancient Athens or the Maidan-i-Shah in the context of seventeenth-century Isphahan. While in all these cases the meanings described would have been, and still are, immediately comprehensible since s o noticeable due to redundancy, context, and the use of "natural" cues, the specific reading of the meanings requires some cultural knowledge. The codes must be known in order for the meaning of the order underlying buildings, cities, and whole countries to be understood. This was the case in Ancient Cambodia (see Giteau, 1976) and in the layout of the entire Maya lowlands, to give just two examples. These latter need to be interpreted in terms of a sacred model based on the quadripartite view of the universe and the consequent use of four capitals. This organization penetrates down to level of the villages, which also consist of four wards (Marcus, 1973). This is, of course, an ancient and common pattern; one of the earliest cities, Ebla, was structured in this way (Bermant and Weitzman, 1979: 155, 167), as were many other cities (Rapoport, 1979b). Similar models underlie Yoruba environ-
THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
ments (Kamau, 1976) and Mexico, where a knowledge of ancient Aztec organization can help in reading the meaning of the organization of a contemporary small town such as Tlayacapan (Ingham, 1971).Thus knowing the underlying schemata, having internal contexts, helps in reading the meanings. I have been discussing the fact that although context and cultural knowledge are important, many of these cues seem to be almost selfevident, although from the distant past and from very different cultures. This suggests the need briefly to consider again the suggestion made above that there may be regularities in the means available that may be likely, "natural," and almost inevitable. This may be interpeted in terms of the notion of evolutionary bases for behavior. One suggestion is that among more or less widely shared associations, there may be archetypal associations-that is, certain common responses to certain stimuli, or archetypes defined as the most likely schemata (see McCully, 1971).Another approach is that, due to evolution in particularconditions, the human species exhibits constancies in behavior, needs, and the ways things tend to be done, s o that there are limits to the range of possible ways of doing things (Rapoport, 1975b; Hamburg, 1975; Tiger and Shepher, 1975; Tiger, 1969; Tiger and Fox, 1971; Fox, 1970; Boyden, 1974; Rossi, 1977). It may also well be that not only is the repertoire or palette limited, but the rules of combination may be similarly limited. Here again, there may eventually be an area of overlap between the study of environmental meaning in terms of nonverbal cues and more formal structuralist, semiotic, symbolic, linguistic, and cognitive anthropology models. Note that many of these are based on the notion of oppositions-that is, contrasts-so that many theorists in the area argue that symbols occur in sets and that the meaning of particular symbols is to be found in the contrast with other symbols rather than in the symbol as such, s o that individual symbols have layers of meaning that depend upon what is being contrasted with what (see Leach, 1976). This notion of contrast or opposition seems basic to discrimination or meaning, and forms part of the context that I have been stressing. One of these common processes discussed above was the tendency of the human mind to classify the world into domains such as nature/ culture, us/them, menlwomen, private/public, frontlback, sacred/ profane, goodlbad, and so on; built environments often give physical expression t o these domains (Rapoport, 1 9 7 6 ~ ) . Note that recently the strict binary nature of such oppositions has been modified by the
Nonverbal Communication and Envlronrnental Meaning
realization that frequently an important middle term (or terms) exists that mediates or resolves the opposition. One example is provided by the concept of "field" as mediating between "village" and " b u s h in various cultures; also, in the opposition "sa~red/polluted,~' there is the middle term "ordinary" (Keesing, 1979: 23; Fernandez, 1977; Rapoport, 1979b).Among the Zapotec, one finds the graveyard used as the category mediating between the wild (field) and the domestic (house) domains; there o n e finds a whole gradation or continuum of terms defining domains that are expressed in terms having to d o with fields, villages, houses, patios, and s o on, and with concepts such as sacred, profane, good, bad, safe, dangerous, and so on. Knowing these clarified the environment and its meanings (El Guindi and Selby, 1976).Contrasts are thus often among expressions of domains; while the results may vary, the processes and rules are constant. In defining domains, and in grouping environmental elements into domains, it is necessary to judge whether, and how, elements are the same or different. It has been suggested that there are five main modes of equivalence: perceptible (color, size, shape, position, and s o on); functional (for what it is used); affective (emotional response such as liked or disliked); nominal (based on ready-made names in the language); and by fiat, that is, arbitrary (Olver and Hornsby, 1972). The use of equivalence criteria and their types are constant; the specific type used varies among different cultures (see Greenfield et al., 1972; Suchman, 1966). Once domains are defined, and their equivalence or difference established, cues need to be used to make them visible. This is the role and purpose of the contrasts we have been discussing. For example, the modern movement in architecture, modern art, and all avantgarde in itself has meaning simply by contrast with what is not avantgarde, through being identified with an elite minority. This is, of course, the role of fashion today, as we have already seen (Blumer, 1969b). Equivalerlt to these is being modern in Third World environments through the use of modern materials, shapes, or gadgets, which we have already discussed; it is, in fact, a perfect analogue through contrast with the context, for example, "modern" houses, concrete floors, cement blocks, galvanized iron, and wood frame as opposed t o U b u s h houses with mud floors, mud and stick walls, and thatched roofs. Recall that in a setting of galvanized iron roofs it is the thatched roof that may have special meaning. Without noticeable differences-contrasts-meaning is more difficult to read. For example, in Campo Rugia, a traditional neighborhood
Much work needs to be done in reviewing all these issues historically and cross culturally. semiotic. they physically define the most important public places in the urban fabric The two main ones are the Rialto-the business and financial center-and the Plaza San Marco-the political and rel~gious center(Chenu et al. of interaction and meeting. but Ekman's model seems t o be applicable whether semifixed. Scarcity value is thus important in emphasizing absence o r presence through contrast. illustrators. and symbolic analyses. more formal linguistic." but by contrast with the prevail~ng suburban norm of manicured landscape This landscaping becomes a marker. straightforward. Notes school of the 1 Interestingly. derived from nonverbal communication. windows v a y greatly in size and form. and relation to. since Venice has few arcades.. they have a special meaning that indicates special areas of social importance. whose work I w~lishortly discuss. or adaptors.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 121 in Venice. the shabby. 1979:76). For example. semiotic. has been work~ng .Clearly. the suggestion already made. they thus all seem to have the same importance and do not communicate (Chenu et al. however.. We have already seen that differences become more noticeable.and nonfixed-feature elements tend to be more like emblems. and meanings clearer. that by starting with this relatively simple. when they are unique (one clearing in a forest. Similarly. in Bologna. this communicates the social meaning of dwellings. and largely observational approach. the windows are all of the same size and form. structuralist. nonmanicured landscaping of upper-class areas (Duncan. o n e colored building). 1973) communicates not only through matching the schema of "wilderness" and "simple. In the new neighborhood of Villaggio San Marco. 110-111). avoiding the problems presented by formal linguistic. At the moment it still seems unresolved. where arcades are the norm. or symbolic approaches. It thus appears that this approach. reinforced by the above discussion. natural things. one is in no way blocking its eventual integration with. t h e authors ruere then at the San Francisco r n e d i ~ a l Un~versltyo Cal~fornia. whether they are more like gestures or facial expressions (see Figure 17). Recall. can usefully be applied to environmental meaning. f where Ekman. their absence may have equivalent meaning. 1 9 7 9 : 106.
there is n o loss in clarity when the concept "symbol" is omitted and the question.122 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 2. Note that this and many other studies o n color are discussed in terms of "symbolism." As pointed out in Chapter 2. . "What is the meaning of colors?" or "What d o colors communicate?" is substituted.
one sensitizes oneself to see. in the next. the examples will concentrate on our own time and Western culture. While. Basically. one can . In conventional non. Hall. involving observation and interpretation. of course. the advantage of this approach is that it is relatively simple and straightforward. occasional more "exotic" examples will be used to stress specific points. and others involved observation and/or photography followed by analysis. This is. Note that the early work of Ruesch and Kees. smaller-scale examples will be examined. of course. but one involving an intuitive "creative leap" once one has saturated oneself in the information (Rapoport. Birdwhistell. also an analogue of design and of the use of man-environment studies in design. In this chapter. one begins by looking and observing. that intuition then needs to be checked systematically and in a more "linear" fashion. verbal communication studies in the nonfixed-feature area. observe. The observation itself and the understanding become easier with practice. but even that can be suggested by observation. one needs to intuit the meaning of what o n e sees. Ekman. and understand: It is not a linear process. 1969d). in general. As already pointed out. it now seems useful to examine examples of the application of the approach advocated in more detail. as one develops this mode of thought. knowing the cultural context is extremely useful. In both processes. This led to an index o r catalogue of cues.SMALL-SCALE EXAMPLES OF APPLICATIONS Although many varied examples have been used in the discussion s o far. that is. which led to hypotheses tested by further observation o r experiment. the suggestion is made that this early. Clearly. those at the urban scale. relatively simple approach is extremely useful. In this book.
behavior. For example. and the whole situation through such cues that. and so on. whether it is raised-will communicate much. newly arrived in Spain. that is. or sashes of . the context available to the users. however. 1976). the nature of the judge's seat-its size. if one considers courtrooms in several cultures (Hazard. In applying the approach to semifixed (and fixed-feature) elements one can also study the encoding (what setting would one provide for X) and decoding (what does this setting suggest or mean). effectively. and witness stand.Whether this is. traffic. Forexample. other variants are found. One description of how this process might occur is given in the hypothetical example of how one might gradually comprehend the meanings of various elements in Spain. This clearly suggests that with people present. Spatial organization at small scales can communicate meanings at the level of semifixed elements. the jury is separate from the judge in the United States and Britain. chains. 1972). this process of gradual comprehension implies. various smells. Clearly. the prosecutor is higher spatially than the defense attorney. the suggestion is that by observing the spatial relationships among five elements-judge's seat. accused. the early stages described involve a person. and interaction will communicate even more. location. The judge's dress-robes. proxemic behavior. At the same time. meanings can then be inferred and checked. observing and recording various features in the environment: blending of offices and dwellings. are in the semifixed realm. These cues may be very subtle. defending attorney's seat. which is extremely significant for my argument. and prosecuting attorney's seat-the major and essential features of the criminal justice system can be determined so that even an empty courtroom tells o n e a great deal (see Figure 18). as a saw-cut in the bench behind which judge and prosecutorsit in Poland to make them distinct. their dress. wigs. open-door bars. the need to acquire the cultural knowledge necessary to interpret the cues. status. in that case. jury's seats. defendant's seat. in fact. For example. beginning with observation (Poyatos. as already pointed out.124 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT study both the encoding and decoding of the behaviors in an interaction (Ekman and Friesen. decoration. the signs attached to balconies. In other places. the case is less important than the point that we can judge relative position. the judge and jury retire together. film placards. sidewalk cafes. A significant point about the jury/judge re!ation above is that how and where they retire is significant. In Geneva. and they retire separately to different places. 1972).
Small-Scale Examples of Applications 125 .
nonenvironmental ways. as we shall see below. of course. moreover. This is. through professional achievement (see Rapoport. all add even more data. for example. He assumed that personalization would be higher on the East side. other comparable cases allow inferences to be made more easily. Note that. Various questions and subhypotheses could quickly be formulated. Basically one identifies sets of noticeable differences among environments and makes inferences about them. and "the subtle differences in the way lawyers and witnesses speak in the courtroom can have a profound effect on the outcome of a criminal trial" (New York Times. behavior. one finds that clothing style. It even becomes possible to disprove hypotheses in this way. with a subsample of architects' dwellings there). two different subculture codes were being used to which people conformed. one student (Janz. One can also observe overt behavior and obtain demographic characteristics of populations to help interpret these meanings more fully. blue-collar area) with a n area on the East side (a professional-academic. 1978) compared semifixed elements in several hundred dwellings in an area on the South side of Milwaukee (a white ethnic. for example. Once a single case is analyzed and relationships established. In other words. 1975). The meanings communicated-"I am a good person who belongs hereu-were communicated through both the presence and absence of personalization externally. a group identity achieved . once again. Note that. what was typical of the East side was the absence of personalization. The advantage of such an approach is that it is simple enough conceptually to be used quickly and easily by practitioners and students. the fixedfeature elements communicate much less. Thus. he photographed the houses for further analysis. other environmental means might be involved. the discussion here bears on the setting for these rituals and it reflects them. such as the usher's cry of "all stand" and the crowd's behavior. Thus these more typical nonverbal cues also play a role. Was the lack of personalization on the East side due to lifestyle variables among the inhabitants so that the population established identity in other. the nonfixed features. typical of all cultures. fairly high-status area. In addition to field analysis.126 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT office-will add more. for example. It soon became clear that personalization through semifixed elements was very much higher on the South side-in fact. 1981)? Alternatively. The report also comments that the American criminal trial is a public ritual that is used to resolve conflicts.
too. needed to be achieved through personalization? These questions. It was also not too difficult for a student to begin to list the elements to be examined (that is. Thus lists of noticeable differences can be noted among fixed and semifixed (and even nonfixed) features that are used to indicate front or back. the palette): external materials colors fences planting and landscaping visibility of house from street visibility into house shutters awnings and decorations on them mailboxes street numbers newspaper holders external lights handrail:. could be answered relatively easily.Small-Scale Examples of Applications 127 through the architectural quality of the dwellings and overall character of the area that attracted people there in the first place and that would be damaged by major changes in the semifixed elements Was the location of the area and residence in it sufficient to communicate a particular social identity that. and have been. many specific questions can easily be listed. on the South side. applied easily in the field by researchers. and students O n e can look at the state of lawns maintenance of houses colors presence and absence of porches . signs on front of house flagpoles and their location air conditioners storm doors other objects For each of these elements. These can be. Similar questions and approaches can be used to study frontjback distinctions. practitioners.
and nonfixed-feature elements such as people and their activities could also be observed and used to clarify the issue. enabling o n e to work in the manner described in the preface. Hence grain is stored in simple and unobtrusive granaries. These clearly are important in the meanings they have for people. and so on.The study investigated the demarcation of space through planting and fences. tables. for many other studies. color. color. In the former case. or treatment of fences and many others. size. (Inventories of this kind can also be used. and began by observing and recording objects. the~r dress. Another advantage o this approach is that many studies exist that f can be interpreted in these terms: These begin to show patterns and exhibit relationships. and so on. and results were enlightening. chairs. The presence or absence of semifixed-feature elements such as other planting. are quickly noted (even if not studied). The elements constitutingthe message content of the barriers used to demarcate space were also quite easily derived: location. because of Islam. In the Sudan. and easy. was done as project for a term paper and would hardly have been possible with more "sophisticated" means. size. or barbecues.they can then quickly be seen to relate to other studies of such markers. that is. straightforward. location. it is God who is honored ratherthan grain. dominate the mud-brick villages . absence. continuity. like the Milwaukee example above. one finds granaries as major elements-in size. decoration. Illinois (Anderson and Moore. qualitative evaluations and quantitative differences were studied. a classification and typology easily followed. materials.) An example of one such study done by students examined the object language in two subculturally different residential areas in Urbana. Other forms of boundary phenomena. both externally and internally. shape. 1972). it is mosques and tombs of saints that. type. The process was direct. An example is provided by a comparison of houses in some parts of Africa with those in the Sudan. The study. in form. sun umbrellas.128 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT locat~on garages and cars of varlous uses and how treated various objects locatlon of paths landscaping absence or presence of people. and behav~or presence. Then. such as markers (equivalent to point barriers). relating many disparate studies and integrating them into larger conceptual systems.
The central role of the lawn in communicating meanlng is confirmed by studies done in new communities in California.The importance of these lawns was in their meaning. among the Mossi. But can one find more "scientific" evidence? It is. this is revealed through noticeable differences:elaboration.Small-Scale Examples of Applications 129 (Lee. Shortly after I arrived in Milwaukee in 1972. a lawn was put in and maintained while the house lacked adequate furniture (Eichler and Kaplan. Werthman. a woman decided that she would have her vegetable garden in front-where a lawn is normally to be found in Anglo-American culture. a different element communicates meaning. decoration. and many special council meetings were held. it is not the granary but the doorframe of the compound portal that has the most meaning. in the case of each of the West African groups.The differences are clarified using cultural knowledge. for example. Wisconsin Given the local climate. Court actions took place and the case eventually reached the Wisconsin Supreme Court. in fact. inferences can be made. materials. 1974). after the purchase of the house. it is the doorway and lock (Prussin. In these new communities. among the Dogomba. however. a rather interesting case occurred in the suburb of Wauwatosa. contextual knowledge relatively easily obtained to check these Interpretations. little money often remained available to residents Yet. but what is far more interesting is the obviously strongly affective reaction to the attempt. 1968). and the particular orientation of her house. Front lawns in our own culture provide a good example. It must mean something very important-as we would also suspect from the anecdotal material on social pressures for well-maintained laws. 1967. the elements analyzed and interpreted. but simple observation and listing of elements makes the point quickly and forcefully In West Africa both elements are stressed -the meaning of granaries reflects the essential nature of grain and is expressed through most elaborate craftsmanship and use of the highest skills. In the end. and the relevant cultural. location. The municipality was outraged. and so on. 1972)all judged on the basis of emphasis and elaboration. Obviously a front lawn is independent of space organization-it is more than a certain number of square feet of grass. the mosque has meaning as an expression of spirituality as the granary is a spiritual expression of material well-being. Once noted. they communicated adherence to a particular image . difficult to avoid it. Thus. frequently. In other parts of West Africa. the woman was allowed to grow her vegetables.
and self-identity. The front yard and its lawn. The presence or absence of fences also has meaning. they seem to be proliferating generally in the United States. A most important (although. They were. solidity. Their persistence. seen as communicating self-sufficiency. and the meaning and purpose of planning. In the United States. at the moment. while in the latter it does not (see Figure 19). not the only) aspect of maintenance is the quality of the front lawn. highly conforming in the latter. as we have already seen. but then disappeared. and so do the materials used or changes in their use (Anderson and Moore. 2). and boundary control. individualism. disappearance. fences used to be common.130 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT that established a group identity and certified the worthiness of the individual to inhabit the particular area. and changes in their height. areas of the United States where fences are still common and. and so on. For example. In effect. In Texas. status. Parenthetically (and to be discussed later). were seen as the creation of a particular image certifying and maintaining status.Note the role of context: Fences clearly meant something different before and after their general disappearance. quite young children judged people by these. are indicators of the taste. and they mean something different in the United States than they do in Britain and other places where they are common. of course. In other cultures. maintenance plays a most important role. In almost all studies having to do with the environmental quality of residential areas. that is. 1972). in the Barriadas of . self-worth. the whole area. We already have seen that these meanings are part of the enculturation process and occur very early in life. 1963). with lawns seen as indicating higher-status and better-quality people (Sherif and Sherif. for example. A fence where there are none or few has different meaning than a fence that is o n e among many: It is nonconforming in the former. see Rapoport. all have more to d o with meaning than anything else. in the former case it communicates attitudes about privacy. the lawn becomes an expression of a particular message-the front region par excellence. There are. where both lawn and country gardens (bare earth and flowers) existed. and are. 1951). and lifestyle of the family who owns it. and reappearance. it is a most important component of that rather complex concept (for a review. 1977: ch. different devices are used to achieve similar ends. and nonconformity (Jackson. providing the cues and standards for social comparison processes whereby people are judged. its upkeep and layout. interaction. certainly.
a necessity (Turner. where elaborate wrought-iron grilles may cost more than the dwelling they enclose.. Figure 19 Lima. front fences are used. an elaborate front door is purchased often before a roof can be afforded-in a climate where roofs are. . Peru. to put it mildly.c~L*T~ * ~ Q T O t. 1967)..Small-Scale Examples of Applications 131 FEPJR? ~d TLVO . such as in Puerto Rico. The false fronts of frontier settlements in the United States and the false fronts among the Maya of Cozumel and generally in Putun-dominated Yucatan (Sabloff and Rathje. In other cases. 1976) are other examples among many others that can be given (Rapoport.
1965). front definition is of much lesser importance than in the United States. 1975. Examples of how areas are read as urban slums in the Anglo-American realm might be the presence of garbage cans or people sitting in their undershirts drinking beer. impenetrable beech hedges in front of houses in Denmark. 1966. an area may be defined as aUslum"on the basis of behaviors classified by one group as belonging in back regions occurring in front regions. Wilhelm. as a social being. that gardens and planting patterns have meaning and. When frontlback reversals occur. man is seen as a natural being. and hedges is based on the fact that one of the easiest ways of changing meaning is by the use of semifixed-feature elements such as planting. These are grown from scratch and take between eight and seventeen years to mature. Rapoport. and hence the use of gardens and plant complexes by cultural geographers as a culture indicator is significant (Kimber. s o that traditional Chinese gardens are of two types and. respectively (Moss. we find "inappropriate" behavior.The primacy of the m e a n i n g of this element. Each of these positions has environmental . to those who can decode the meanings. 1971. 1976. identity. in rural areas. country gardens.What they all show is the important meaning of "front region" being communicated by the use of various devices. Alternatively. see Rapoport. and so on (Duncan and Duncan. The analysis of lawns. its latent rather than manifest function. if the code is understood. especially pp. can be shown to summarize and express Taoist and Confucian philosophies. is clear: The purpose is to establish front and communicate self-worth in the culturally appropriate way. Simoons. There are also other groups for which this is of less importance as part of a general lack of attention to dwellings and other environmental means generally to communicate status. no interim boundary definers or privacy screens are used (Seligmann. 1972. can communicate ethnic and other group identities. 1976). These larger scale examples will be discussed in more detail in the next chapter. An example of cues comparable to lawns and fences in a different culture is provided by the head-high. a front region for most American travelers. in the latter. even though Seligmann argues that in Denmark generally. 1977: ch. the presence of stripped and cannibalized cars visible from the road (that is. 1973. Anderson.132 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1979a). The cultural specificity is striking. as in the example of Baltimore cited above. of course. 1965).In the former. The very common use of such elements leads to their expressing meaning. 2.The implication of this is. 1 9 8 1 ) . 96-100).
gardens are less important than houses. Other elements of environments. 1969c: 131. and rectilinear direction change and axiality were sought. it is done directly. and other meanings. useful Similar analyses have been done for the New Zealand suburban house (which I d o not have) and the Vancouver house (Holdsworth.Small-Scale Examples of Applications 133 implications. curvilinearity was avoided. bright flowers and flowering trees.S. cacti and s o on. The analysis IS concrete. and so onfollow from these ideals. then. in the latter case. rocks. palaces. In the Confucian view. . use of plant materials. symmetry. 1975) These meanings are interpreted in terms of the interaction and conflict between communal roles and private identity. temples. a search for surprise. can also be "read" in this way. and the like is a mode of communication about the owners and the social situation. with walled gardens. water. patios. and so on. Mexican-Americans and JapaneseAmericans in Los Angeles. clear. the "reading" is straightforward and simple. In the United States. In both cases. popular houses were analyzed directly using the concept of audicule and trying to identify what was being communicated. stone lanterns. cultivated flowers/wildflowers ( = weeds).Again. Other binary oppositions are found: lawn/ground cover. by beginning with observation and by identifying the elements. and intimacy rather than monumentality. the front/ back distinction often seems basic even when both yards are seen. and other official or ceremonial settings-that is. Thus early twentieth-century U. bonsai trees. hence. While the task of understanding the house as communicating certain life values by "decoding a set of signs" sounds semiotic (and does not use the approach of this book). flowers. While in this case a semistructuralist analysis is made. the landscaping of dwellings can be "read" quite easily. note 15). with grass. the specifics--layout. It can be suggested that planting lawns. straightforwardly. little or no grass. purpose of garden planning" (Anderson. the cultural meanings (Seligmann. also. the domain of culture. Confucian gardens also communicate that: hierarchically arranged and explicitly defined spaces. avoidance of axial vistas or avenues. 1972: 181). rectangularity. there would be n o less of clarity in using the nonverbal communication approach. such as suburban houses.although not only. starting with the observed elements. lack of symmetry. It is significant that two subcultural groups. Thus the Taoist garden stresses irregularity. becomes theUchief. This. and s o on (Rapoport. rocks. and. transformed previously identical residential areas through planting and garden design: In the former case.
single-family dwelling (Barnett.In this case also. these same dwellings now often communicate negative meanings. but also to the fact that the brick urban world had negative connotations related to the nineteenthcentury industrial city (Holdsworth. one can determine equally well the essential philosophy of the particular school (Goodman.134 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1975). The meanings of the latter can be so easily read. and s o onoften expressed and expressible in furniture arrangements. although the nonverbal communication model is not used formally. 1975). Differences can be found between the working-class "hqme" and elite dwellings. and illustrated that they are used in advertisements (see Figure 20). become clear from an analysis of advertisements. In Pittsburgh. Jungian. can be relatively easily achieved. The meaning of the detached house as home. Similarly. It is the meaning rather than the reality of the detached house that is important. The use of wood. Gestalt. understood. such as Morita therapy in Japan and various . 1975: 4). of the fireplace and other elements. Massachusetts-it is a compromise between the economics of urban land and the ideal of the freestanding.S. by observing the spatial relationships of just two people (patient and therapist) in a psychiatric situation in a number of "schools" of psychiatry-Freudian. Interestingly. partly in contrast to the English urban landscape.) Another example of the meaning of freestanding houses in nineteenth-century working-class U. The task is fairly straightforward and. on the corner of Hamlet and Ophelia streets (in South Oakland). areas is provided by the "three-decker" house in Worcester. 1959). with changing contexts and images. Reichian. the approach is effectively the one being advocated-observation and analysis. and hence appropriate. or the absence of furniture. The attempts to achieve the image of the freestanding house at high densities helps explain the use of narrow lots in nineteenth-century Milwaukee (Beckley. I recently saw houses about eighteen inches apart-they were still freestanding! (Recall the saw-cut in the Polish courtroom described above. meanings. is not due just to its local availability. as we shall see in the next chapter.One could add to this other examples. 1977). Individuality was important (again. for example. where the spacing between houses may be as little as four feet. given even a minimal knowledge of the context. and new elements are used in redevelopment in Milwaukee to communicate positive. from where the inhabitants came) and the overall appearance of the house was influenced by the West Coast lifestyle-thus the impact of the Southern California bungalow in a very different setting and climate.
the cues are in the semifixed realm (and in the nonfixed realm when people are present)the fixed-feature elements communicate much less. This argument can also be extended to restaurants and to parliamentary institutions. . Senate proves most instructive in the way meaning is communicated by the location of seating as expressing political philosophies. Note that in many. the British House of Commons. where a comparison of the French Assemblke Nationale. of these cases.S. and the U.136 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT ethnopsychiatric situations. if not most.
More generally. in highly heterogeneous areas they result in random variations with little or no meaning at the scale of the area.and semifixed-feature domains is much clearer in the one case than in the other (see Fioure 21). semifixed. particularly for residents.URBAN EXAMPLES O F APPLICATIONS Many dwellings together become residential areas and many gardens together become hndscapes. Also. the cultural knowledge needed to decode nonverbal behavior in the nonfixed. 1 9 8 0 ~ )It. 1977. Also. In a homogeneous area. and do. or users. such landscapes have meaning in terms of various forms of group identity and. take on clear character. the development o specific character at the areal level f depends on some level of homogeneity. that they can be read in the same way as smaller-scale examples-instantaneously. also suggests that once the schemata or codes are known. although not exclusively. They are also the result of the decisions of innum. the presence of shared schemata among particular groups (Rapoport. But even the latter frequently exhibit clear meanings given the persisting clustering of people in cities and regions by perceived homogeneity and the resulting cultural landscapes (Rapoport. of course. since it is mainly. 1980b. clear.erable individuals. cultural landscapes are the results of many artifacts grouped together in particular relationships. personalizations and human behavior "add up" to produce strong. moreover. All these characteristics play a role in the relatively greater effectiveness of traditional environments in communicating to their users vis-avis contemporary situations. This suggests.and nonfixed-feature elements that communicate meaning. 1 9 7 2 . and redundant cues. It is most striking that they can. 1977) Note that the main difference between 0 .
once again. judgments are. theoretically. and easily. Possibly. Redundancy becomes even more important for clarity since even with extreme homogeneity a degree of variability is inevitable. given the importance of such cues in cities made up of very diverse individuals and groups. Thus.S. at the area level. cities. as we shall see. quickly. Note. for example. individuals are required t o make snap judgments about strangers on the basis of limited information-they . observers are prepared to act on the basis of very limited information. judgments are made constantly. observers are ready to make judgments on the basis of minimal or uncertain cues. more difficult to make-more potentially discordant messages are present. Yet. in terms of contemporary U.138 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Figure 21 these cases and the smaller-scale ones is that cues are collective rather than individual. There. that the process of understanding cultural landscapes is very analogous to that pertaining to interperson perception studied in psychology.
fixed. status. make judgments about the occupants of settings. 1972). Thus people read environmental cues. stereotypical schemata are used to evaluate these perceived characteristics (Warr and Knapper. classified large areas as slums even though. A different form of cultural landscape (in the context of architects' images) was judged negatively. for this purpose (Hodges. it may be brick or stone. such as work space and night sleeping space. in fact. and then act accordingly-environments communicate social and ethnic identity. and of the schemata used to stereotype and judge people. at that moment in time. and s o on. Mann. their comparison standard was based on different cues-materials replaced lawns-but the process was similar and s o was the outcome. 1 9 7 7 . Often. see Rapoport. and then gradually becoming used for houses-first elite and then nonelite. and through them the character of groups. Thus. references in Rapoport. flat roofs are now regarded as a mark of poverty. a wider range of cues. in studying the early Mesoamerican village. 92-100. and s o on. Thus. the group identity was negative or stigmatizing: Slums are inhabited by " b a d people. and s o on. environmental quality is often judged through maintenance (Rapoport. 1977). For example. skin. in a particular case. semifixed. The insistence on modern materials in the Third World already discussed is an example.Maintenance itself is judged through a whole set of cues. For example. and many others). which . replacing wattle and daub. The use of materials communicates meaning over and above space organization. speech. Pitched. human-made materials generally. and nonfixed feature. 1968. dress. In other cases. In the cases being discussed here. tile roofs have become virtually a status symbol-people giving up necessary instrumental and manifest functions. adobe was equated with high status. 1 9 6 9 ~ ) . 1972. for other examples. Since people are judged by where they live.Urban Examples of Applications 139 make inferences on the basis of rules that seem quite regular and are based on the nonfixed-feature elements already discussed-facial expressions. An example of this process. are being used to judge areas. they were highly maintained and greatly improved The judgments were made on the basis of the use of particular materials (such as fake stone and plastic sheeting imprinted with brick patterns) that the architects disliked and despised (Sauer. 1969:especially pp. o n e finds adobe first used in public buildings. is provided by a group of architects who. But shape may also communicate in this way. in large parts of the Middle East.
descendants of Bosnian settlers in the village of Yamun. 1965. forthcoming a). establishing a "European" meaning. it is o f interest to examine immigrant groups in new environments. Japanese. and otherculturai landscapes in South America (Stewart. they tend to select landscapes like those "back home" because they have affective meaning. As a final set of examples. who live in traditional. Eidt. in Haifa. or Ethiopian. English landscapes have been recreated over large areas of the country (Shepard. 1971). and s o on.140 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT will become clearer shortly. they do frequently transform the landscape through layout. 1971). becomes understandable. we find the treatment of various religious enclaves in the Sinai. German. flat-roofed houses. can still be recognized through the fact that their houses have red tile roofs (Ilan. vegetation is different (as on the German Carmel). shape and material of roofs (pitched and red tile versus flat).Early topographic drawings of Australia and descriptions of other unfamiliar environments (such as the Great Plains of the United States) also clearly show the inability even to perceive the alien landscape and the negative connotations it has. This can be interpreted partly in terms of meaning: These environments are supportive because they are familiar. for example. door details. The cases of Australia and. forthcoming a). Thus. New Zealand are even more striking: There. 1979c. Their origins are clearly communicated-whether Greek.Be that as it may. and the Judean desert. Jerusalem. in the Middle East. In terms of identity and how it is communicated by group landscapes (see Rapoport. 1978). In the plain of Sharon. Thus one finds Ukrainian. . Italian. traditional elements and that are able to create corresponding landscapes tend to be more successful in their settlement attempts (Eidt. This differentiates them from their Arab neighbors. It is widely believed that. although this view has recently been challenged (see McQuillan. 1978: 138-139). plants. areas settled by Germans in the nineteenthcentury are quite different from others-they contrast house forms. because they express elements of the culture core (Rapoport. Frequently. to give it meaning through the use of familiar cues. and s o on. those groups that use familiar. 1969). at the time the area was settled the meaning was clearly important and very strong. space organization. Israel. the urge to transform it. first. It is also fascinating to study the landscapes created by various ethnic and cultural groups at smaller scales. Similarly. buildings. particularly. In the context of that rather wild and remote place. East of Nablus.
Note also the likelihood that the counterintuitive nature of the high-status landscape was a "cunning" way of marking that group and a subtle. for example. Note that in archaeology also the reading can occur at the urban scale as well as at smaller scales. once the code was known. Thus in Monte Alban (Oaxaca. the extent to which environments communicate these messages effectively depends on redundancy. where two landscapes were found that well communicated group distinct c~iltural identity (Duncan. one finds multiple cue and message systems co-acting in order to provide sufficient redundancy for the message to ge through. relies on the fact that the physical environment can be seen as encoding information. in Old Nubia. therefore. and the use of elaborate mail boxes or of rural mail boxes.Urban Examples of Applications 141 All these are. social structure. Recall the example of Westchester County. but influence human behavior. colors. materials. For example. a combination of fixed-feature and semifixed-feature elements were used in a surface survey to make inferences about the population. and effective. fenestration. of course. features such as domes. history. These not only embody values and ideals. uses of areas. and s o on But even in our culture this still works and is used for intergroup communication. towers. as already stressed. and s o on (Blanton. Cues included street paving. where. their size. T o dothat. house visibility. let us see how such codes work in different cultural milieus. Similarly. In most cases. way of excluding the lower-status group. thus it can be decoded or read even if that reading may be difficult o r inaccurate in some cases. membership could be read very easily and effectively. This works particularly well in traditional and vernacular environments. 1978). as we have seen. While the respective landscapes were partly counterintuitive--the more "scruffy" one indicated the higher-status groupthe correlation between cultural landscape and group identity was extraordinarily high. archaeology. different groups along the Nile used tombs of saints to ident~fy groups that also had different house and village . political organization. street lighting. the presence or absence of colonial eagles. status and importance in a Southern Italian town such as Ostuni (see Figure 8 in Chapter 2) is indicated by location of buildings. as we have seen. they are systems of settings developed to elicit appropriate behaviors. examples of the notion of cultural landscapes in geography as capable of communicating meaning and thus of being read. they must be read. Before returning to the United States to consider a range of examples.Also. Mexico). nature of planting (clipped or natural). and pediments. 1973).
These decorations became the element communicating ethnic identity. indicate higher status. Changes in traditional environments also need to be understood in this way. the first thing the Nubians did was to begin to decorate the houses (Fernea et al. hotter in summer. or Mexico). Thus noticeable cues are created-knowledge of the code then enables the meaning ("Nubians") to be read. a specific meaning vis-a-vis the other inhabitants. see also Figure 7 in Chapter 2). and painted. These changes were assertions about changing values and attitudes. "outward facing. that is. Note that these changes correspond to changes in the nature of the elite groups: Traditional elites do not need visible manifestations-their quality is known (see Duncan and Duncan. For example. however. distinguishing between them and others (King.142 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT forms. however. in which the environment generally-that is. Clearly. Italy. It began with elites. color will not have that role. Their major significance was in the realm of meaning. new "suburban" location. All houses. the context-is polychromatic (as in some Greek Islands. 1977). all examples of the stress on new materials and forms . This corresponds to the use of whitewash for a chapel in the Altiplano of Peru or the red or blue domes on churches in Mykonos (to which I refer in Rapoport. the change to Western. 1968b. the double-story or painted (or both) dwellings will have similar communicative function (see Figure 22). In this case the cues are traditional. being a way of marking them. even though they may be less comfortable. This is not unlike the distinction in India between houses of mud brick (kufcha) and of burnt brick (pukka). the meaning of the latter is clear from the English term pukka sahib. the adoption of Western domestic furniture.. Thus a village may blend in with the local color (being built of mud brick) and look like a rock outcrop. were decorated in very striking ways. 1976). or contact with overseas relatives." European-style bungalows. the contrast with the context of traditional environments may be set up through the use of modern materials and colors. houses may be beehive shapedas in North Syria. and in many Indian or even Mestizo (or Ladino) villages. In Mexico and other countries of Latin America. and the consequent behavior in India was an indication of status: It was a marker. higher income. and equipment. A clear contrast was set up with the context. More substantial dwellings of concrete or stone. they were markers of a particular group membership. and colder in winter. 1973). with balconies or with grilles. furnishings. In the case. When rehoused in uniform and highly unsuitable houses after the building of the Aswan Dam. freestanding.
as soon as one can afford them." They are in the associational realm. but as statements of meaning. and large windows (uncomfortable. which is equated with an identification with elements the meaning of which is urban life. is . the hierarchy. but indicating modernity) all indicate prestige. in ascending order. houses made of flimsy wood and grass are considered old fashioned and symbolic of the lowest economic and social classes. 1969b). about "modernity. In the Sudan.Urban Examples of Applications 143 T ~ ~ P ~ O ~ AWRDDEeN W L - lnC?h3F~L-lfi~5 Itd \I(U&(*EhND T O ~ J . materials (such as red brick). and the like. mud dwellings are used (Lee. MExlLO %+b%ch Figure 22 are to be seen not in terms of comfort. improvement in livability. Similarly. the choice of house form.
low and high.All relate toUdistanceto nature" as identifying status and membership in the two major groups: Indian and Ladino (or Mestizo). and central location (we will return to this point later). 1977) that would indicate status and. In many parts of Latin America. and peripheral location would generally indicate higher status than an urban wall. the proliferation of vegetation. light quality. natural vegetation. Note three things. their behavior. 1977:348). in other cultures. and s o on.144 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT wood and thatch. natural thatch. for example.a number of such cues indicated relative status: location-central as high status. arcades. Second. in this case. and s o on) as high status. Also note that.Third. respectively. this vegetation then becomes a clear cue indicating"plazaV (that is. brick. 1974). grid layouts. these are all environmental quality cues. such as the United States or Australia." and an absence of vegetation. which is reinforced through church steeples. As a village becomes modernized and urbanized. all acting together and congruently could not fail to get the message across. and so on-that is. space organization-ordered and rectilinear as high status. absence of vegetation. ethnicity. these types of changes occur (Rapoport. activity types and levels. and the use of "natural" materials contrasts with urban landscapes. mud. which stress rectilinear. the scattered. first. Second. which can be interpreted in terms of increasing distance from "nature" toward "culture" (Vogt. of course. smells. important place). and red brick. The vegetation in plazas is controlled. sounds. bamboo. Parenthetically. materials-human-made (tile. the presence of visible large masses of natural vegetation versus clipped vegetation localized in plazas (and in court interiors). peripheral as low. "haphazard" layout of Indian or rural areas. In a study of San Pedro. stressing its belonging to the domain of culture. which is inside courts. the kinds of shops and what they contained. scattered and straggly as low status. and so on as low status. the language spoken. consistent and repeated use would lead to greater clarity o meaning since the response f . human-made materials forming what one could call an "urban wall. is particularly clearly developed into a code in Latin America. who also have clear status. the presence or absence of markets. many of these cues are reversed: irregular layout. 1970). there would be a large range of noticeable differences (Rapoport. be reinforced by other cues such as the types of people encountered. the cues described would. their dress. First. This sequence. Colombia (Richardson. while each cue by itself would hardly do it. because redundancy is high. pleached.
a "thing" that one can control. social relations. Note that these patterns are formed elsewhere and may carry similar but not identical meanings. dominate. 1 0 3 ) . which are changed overnight. behave. status. these patterns (and others. for Indians.This is also clear from studies on the village of Ixtepeji (Kearney. In addition. changes and shifts in band composition reflect this in the nonfixed-feature domain. beliefs. and so on) clearly communicate modernity. In simpler cultures. 1977: 233).the center with whitewashed walls and red tile roofs unshaded by vegetation contrasts with the outskirts with thatched roofs. powerful. 1972). and compelling. In Las Rosas. In fact. and Indians in the center "do not belong" and are unacknowledged by non-Indians (Hill. for instance. social relations are well known. and exploit (Hill.Urban Examples of Applications 145 would tend to become almost automatic. is s o mystical. 1972). and interpret them fairly easily without any complex symbolic or semiotic analysis. attitudes. which also tell returning members what has been going on. given the small size of the band. To . that is. where. with the Moslem Stonetown and African Ngambo districts (Rapoport. v e y subtle cues may suffice-or even no cues at all. In terms of my principal argument. 1964). and masses of greenery People also act. of course. but even then the mnemonic function of the environment may be useful. 1961) One k n o w s these social shifts. one may know what is necessary. religion. and attitudes toward nature The latter. One example is provideti by M'Buti pygmy camps. the significant point is that it is possible to look at these cultural landscapes. that one tampers with it as little as possible-it is dominant. and culture-a large set of basic attitudes (see Figure 23). nature is more objective. Note also the greater importance o redundancy and multiple f cues in urban examples. but one is reminded by the environmental cues.Thus one can read more than just group membership and relative status. Indians clearly use more natural features than Ladinos because they also conceive of their habitat differently in terms of ideas. Yet the direction of doorways communicates shifting social relations. In Latin America. In addition. For Ladinos. mud walls. Similar events and devices are found among the Hadza (see Woodburn. as in the case of Zanzibar. notice differences. such as unpaved streets versus paved ones. animals in the street. 1964: 1 0 0 . these cultural landscapes can be read to help decode major cultural attitudes. Chiapas (Mexico). spite fences are bullt to reflect changes in social relations (Turnbull. the clarity of this code in Latin America may be due to the prevalence of this pattern. and dress differently.
known social aspects are still important but clear physical cues are needed In traditional settlements. Without all these conditions. the small group in question knows where the front is and how to behave. and shared rules. After all.Urban Examples of Applications 147 reiterate: In all these cases. Equivalents of the hoop-a freestanding gateway in an Arab village or Japanese farm-may indicate front or entry. In other cultures. Privacy gradients. and including or . depends on consistency of use combined with consistency of location. 1979a). in the case of a !Kung Bushman camp. but the environmental cues act as mnemonics for those who are there and as indicators for those returning after an absence. or the hoop. Sometimes even with these hoops are not used. the system would not work. such meanings need to be known. however. the transition among domains. helps remind people where men and women sit. Clearly. the house. much more noticeable cues and greater redundancy-are needed (Rapoport. The clear understanding of these subtle cues also involves a knowledge of the rules regarding behavior defined by the situation and a willingness to follow these rules. but the knowledge can be gained easily through observation. such as the use of swept earth among Australian Aborigines to indicate the private zone around the dwelling or a particular beam to indicate the private area within a Norwegian farmhouse (Rapoport. a bead curtain. either being known and/ or indicated by subtler cues. They can. indication through physical cues may be less important in traditional cultures because things are known. the social relations are known. cues are often not visible to the outsider at first glance. and s o on. In other words. 1 9 8 0 ~ ) . rigid. This becomes clear from the fact that sometimes houses are not built. when. where. 1959). At the same time. directions or orientation may indicate front-east among the Navaho or Bedouin. houses are built at least partly to indicate this. the absence of cues or the use of very subtle cues. Yet. Clearly. but a hoop in put in the ground to indicate the location of the door and hence the front. be discovered by observing behavior (who does what. a small change in level. partly through consistent use and partly through consistent. and hence behavior shifts (see Figure 24). for example. 1979a. what behavior is appropriate. or west among the Wodaabe of Africa (Stenning. In our cities. Similarly. In other cases much clearer barriers-that is. one knows where the fronts of dwellings are-they face the fire and the common space. the meaning attached to various domains. can be indicated in very subtle ways: a change in ground surface.
1976: 122). . 1979).and precontact African cities. This applies to settlements of many groups-Porno Indians (Rapoport. Quebec Indians (Rapoport. All these cases can be illustrated through a generalized diagram (see Figure 25). 1972). Apaches (Esber. in fact. was organization based on social relationships (Hull. where what appeared as random disorder. Australian Aboriginal camps (Memmott. 1969c). 1977).148 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Figure 24 excluding whom) and also through more systematic studies.
colors and materials. is easy in a small. language. and house styles.and nonfixed-feature elements. however. In a large U S. being able to orient oneself in a city. how much clearer a Yoruba city made up of compounds or a Moslem or Chinese city made up of well-defined quarters is-particularly when the physical definition is reinforced by a host of semifixed. with weaker rule systems. activities. combine to communicate social meaning. traditional city. their dress.Urban Examples of Applications 149 / I Figure 25 Redundancy and clarity of cues Note. such cues are even more important. Physical cues. gates. o n e would . In cities of more complex and pluralistic societies. For example. However. this is much less clear. and many other variables. in terms of center-periphery and knowing where one is located. city. reinforced by kinds of people. as o n e moves toward the (or a) center. such as walls. thus higher levels of redundancy are necessary. sounds and smells.
as I have been arguing. age. Note two things: First. more shops. in turn. If all these cues add up. These judgments were made on the basis of the general appearance of the area. the greater the required redundancy to produce sufficiently clear cues. run-down areas. more signs (neon and s o on). and changes in level. which is said to be fully compatible with that hypothesis (Leeming. less clear or unclear (Rapoport. but ." In fact. thus defining a problem area (see Figure 26). the more complex and culturally pluralist the setting. interpretation can follow. the indications could be quite clear. if not. as one goes from preliterate. including short flights of steps in the street. there is a matching of perceived characteristics against a schema or image. more trafficlights. greater difficulty in parking. Clearly. the context.150 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT generally expect greater traffic density. Among the cues making up that "general appearance" are: The "extreme antiquity" of the area (that is. 1968). is indicated by narrow streets and narrower lanes. Consider the judgments about "overriding poverty" in the Kowloon City area of Hong Kong made by an English observer. particularly since many people are then "outsiders. and reinforce one another. older buildings. This interpretation requires cultural knowledge. This. once one's attention is drawn t o them. with the notion that old = bad). and s o on. 1977. one could hypothesize that a curvilinear relationship would be found regarding the levels of redundancy and clarity of cues as opposed to a linear relationship among levels of redundancy and clarity required. narrowerstreets. that is. tribal (primitive) environments through traditional vernacular ones to modern ones. This type of approach has even been used in suggestions regarding how clear cues and sufficient redundancy could be used to communicate such locational meanings in ideal urban transportation systems (Appleyard and Okamoto. 1968). 1977: 156). higher levels of activity. this is not too difficult to obtain either by sensitive observation or other means. tall buildings. and second. . Steinitz. Thus. most examples in such situations involve large numbers of cues so that noticeable differences are present. these cues are sufficiently strong and redundant to draw attention to the area vis-a-vis other areas. frequent corners.
occasional patches of vegetation. piles of rotting refuse in unfrequented spots. such as the Yaman and Temple. related to the organization .Urban Examples of Applications 151 mmbaI. In urban parts of Kowloon City: overhanging buildings. In the case of North Carolina in the 1920s. gentle curves in most streets. high walls and gates in traditional building types. In village areas within Kowloon City: irregular placing of low buildings. lack of light. noise from factories. and lack of street lighting. a contrast developed (with social conflict consequences. Figure 26 Other cues include open drains. that is.
lawns. pollution levels. maintenance levels generally. urban poverty. and racial minorities-all the "stereotypic components of the uncivilized world" (Rubin. 1978: 148): mill villages new suburbs scruffy dingy parched no cars (or old cars) [unpaved streets] tall houses colors serniforest of cool green foliage wide lawns trim hedges spacious. winding avenues many (and new) cars [paved streets] Urban cues Many such cues are still used in U. and hence safety. 1974). I am not concerned with the specific study. A v e y high correlation can be predicted between graffiti and negative judgments about a large set of urban characteristics. as signs of appropriation and as "territorial markers" (Ley andcybriwsky. grilles on shops. They thus show that new types of semifixed-feature cues can develop and acquire meaning relatively quickly and easily. redundancy usually reinforces these judgments. cleanliness and litter. These are interesting because they have become major indicators of urban meaning yet are relatively new. 1979: 340-341).S. It has recently been noted (in connection with the use of a graffiti-covered wall in a Volvo advertisement) that graffiti are well known to have become associated with juvenile gangs. mixed uses. boardedup buildings. What seems important here is that many people would. empty lots. the nature of resident groups. absence of trees. urban areas. crime levels. lawlessness. and I will turn to those after commenting on graffiti. These are all used to judge the nature of areas . alienation. houses. They w o ~ ~ use ld graffiti to judge environmental quality and hence desirability of areas. and many other noticeable differences.152 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT of communication among people) between millvillages and new suburbs (Glass. in fact. Since differing interpretations of graffiti are possible-for example. and so on. particularly since different interpretations are possible (as we shall see later). such as location. This involves additional cues. quickly and easily make such inferences from these urban cues: It is clearly a majority view.
The character of the area is also indicated by transient commerce flattened beer cans broken wine bottles of "the l~tter losers who pass through t h e area" are drunks o n the street a n d other "characters" ( w h ~ c h judged by cues) vulgarity-adult bookstores and tawdry bars (wh~ch. themselves are ind~cated cues) by surface parking lots vacant buildings with "squat. or declining How easily. stable. In describing part of downtown Milwaukee that." a set of cues is described that tell even a casual observer that "things are not as nice as they might be. whether they are upgrading. on December 26. Part of that study consisted of a windshield survey of environmental quality. or failed or moved businesses. while facades along West Wisconsin Avenue between N 4th a n d N 9th streets have been spruced up. Two things were of interest in terms of our discussion: first. Julian Wolpert was reporting on a major neighborhood study. made on the basis of a ten-minute trip per street. the assumptions underlying their choice.Thus. dirty and crumbling bricks. and the fact that they seemed so self-evident as not to require comment. Jerusalem. gangs of young people hanging around corners. quickly. Hebrew University. and naturally these judgments are made can be seen initially from three examples: from scholarly research. The cues observed included abandoned shops. For example. upkeep of house facades. quality of garbage pickup.Urban Examples of Applications 153 and their environmental quality. ugly faces" . and the like. at a seminar at the Department of Geography. improvements. and second. unlit electric signs. according to a newspaper story. is "sagging. and a novel. whlle the visitor with a keen eye and understanding feet might come away with a much more negative impression" (Manning and Aschoff. a newspaper story. with household surveys involving a great deal more effort. the selection of items or cues to be observed. and so on. 1980). quality of landscaping (if any). the extremely high correlation of such judgments. 1979. alleys and back streets show the backs of these same buildings with rusting fire escapes. This involved those cues that could be observed while driving down the street.
a mismatch with expectations. from a detective novel.) kids batting a softball around graffiti on the sides of buildings litter o n the sidewalks drifters and out-of-work laborers ambling in the streets. the attempt is to describe an area of downtown Los Angeles. The contrast is made between a street of beautiful nineteenth-century houses shaded by pale green trees and a different area to which it suddenly gives way. and the like (Rapoport.154 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT incongruous. 1969b). ill-advised uses o land that should be most valuable (that f is. see Rapoport. 1977) general atmosphere that scares people. dirty overcoats huddling o n benches pawnshops hotel with windows o n the first two floors covered with heavy wire screens grimy shops. of course. That latter area has: no trees weather-beaten old houses cheap markets (Note that these are inferences themselves fleabag hotels made on the basis of sets of cues. gathering in aimless groups men with stubbled chins drinking cheap red wine and muscatel from bottles in paper bags people in ragged. what the physical cues indicate Note how self-evident all these seem to the journalists concerned. although on a smaller scale: a motley collection of couches in the lobby with stuffing poking out of holes in plastic covers . others with cheap secondhand goods a jeweler specializing in 75C repairs o n $5 watches a dress s h o p with advertisements that n o item is above $10 a bar with continuous topless entertainment 1 The description of a hotel lobby and hallway is similar. are related to the argument I have made before about the importance of analyzing novels. newspapers. 1979: 90-92. some vacant.98). 1977). In this case (Childs. who d o not like the way downtown "looks"-that is. Equally self-evident and taken for granted are the cues used to communicate meaning and to set a scene in the next example. Both of these examples. which can be used without engaging in formal content analysis (Rapoport.
nine such surrogates were found: (1) land crowding (2) condition of private free space ( 3 ) nonresidential land uses (4) litter (5) condition of landscaping (6) noise. site coverage. hazards. that is. shape. Consider two examples: the use of remote sensing. in turn. It can be shown to work. which. including eight design features.This term is clearly a'n image or schema against which the perceived cues are matched. condition. and spacing of houses (6) garbage and driveway location (7) roof design and materials . seem to be good indicators of social and economic conditions of a given population and their area. but all that is involved is observation and fairly direct-and very rapid-interpretation. S o is the implicit fact that not only are the cues taken to be self-evident. as surrogates for the age. higher quality than subdivision (2) block size or shape (3) presence or absence of alleys. and size of housing: (1)variety of housing. all from the United States. and nuisance from transport systems (7) nonresidential activities (8) hazards and nuisances (9) architectural styling-which needed to be checked on the ground The last variable in turn included nine characteristics.Urban Examples of Applications 155 smell of decay dim hallway with narrow strip of worn carpet running down the center stale air smell of aged urine peeling brown doors These add up to aUhigh class flophouse" (Childs. The basic agreement between these three descriptions of areas on the basis of sets of cues. or of drawings or retouched photographs. is extremely striking and impressive. It is a simple process. 1 9 7 9 :98). and setback (5) orientation. In o n e study. through more systematic work. and specific cues identified. size of lot. The very fact is significant that remote sensing techniques can be used to identify physical surrogates. and sidewalk location (4) lot shape.
low-status indicator (even when the people themselves actually engaged in such behavior-a difference between cultural knowledge and behavior. architectural details. and so on.. the upper group being the most consistent and the lower group being the least. By retouching photographs onevariable at a time and showing the results to three population groups-upper. the meaning was very positive. and few commercial structures. 1969). Generally. little litter. indicating high status through . it is possible to identify specific cues more rigorously. see Keesing. window flower boxes and the like were added-and people made clear and explicit social judgments on that basis (Brower. Context was important once again. middle. and litter. It was also fairly easy to discover the nature of specific cues-the presence of people and animals. their status. occupying various locations in the street. etc. but also how easily they judged the social meaning of areas. 1973. 1974) Basically. 1979). 1977). planting. few vacant lots. has wellmaintainedvegetation.156 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT (8)location and design of chimneys and flues (9) presence or absence of minor architectural features such as porches. types of people and animals present. Through the use of drawings or retouched photographs. 1977). the presence of recreation in the street was seen as a negative. children playing. For example. adequate but not too luxurious vegetation (Duncan. and how these interacted in complex ways. topography. The former were used in Baltimore. in the street or on the steps. Note that the three groups differed in the consistency of their inferences. It was quite clear that a large number of noticeable differences in the environment act as cues and allow people to make social inferences easily and to predict their likely actions and behaviors on the basis of those. the high-quality environment is well maintained. a horse in a suburban setting had very negative meaning. and lower socioeconomic levels-it became possible to discover their preferences. good street upkeep. (Howard et al. patios. and so on. The opposite set of cues indicates a low-quality environment. materials. in an exurban setting. where drawings of street facades had additions-such as people performing various activities. Royse.This influence of street recreation on areas being identified as slums has already been illustrated and is found generally (Rapoport. clearly all these cues are remarkably similar to those already described-and still to be discussed. An example of the latter is a major study by Royse (1969). steps. garbage. the context and situation.
a n d . unlike. implied density. and black children. for . but not for the lower. however. The high group. a vlllage environment implies a variety of architecture and a degree of "incoherence": different styles. The form of planting also had meaning. like design needs and environmental quality. Wisconsin (Rapoport. hence. we find a series o cues that mean "village" since they are f congruent with the image of village-positive in this case. mixed age and income of people. and hence environmental quality ratings. which we have already discussed. Note that "suburban" or "exurban. which led to the identification of public housing as such (the presence of white children had no impact). and lack of uniformity generally (ArchitectsJournal. the rural image." but context ("appropriateness") was important.Urban Examples of Applications 157 inferred recreational patterns. natural vegetation such as gorse and heath grasses. This fits in well with the different landqcapes found in Westchester (Duncan. materials. For example." that is. but not to the lower. the latter negative. notions of environmental quality have to do with the meanings they have. Lower density was important to the upper group. which reduced the percentage identifying public housing (which has negative meaning) as such. Materials such as asphalt shingles and aluminum screen doors reduced the attractiveness for thekpper and middle groups. and spatial cues. saw the natural landscape as having much more positive meaning. roof pitches. were themselves inferred from cues present in a single photograph Among the variables that changed the meaning of particular settings were: vegetation. all groups. is culture specific. on the contray. but different meanings for different groups. the former being positive. these contexts. generally. such as River Hills.In other words. identified them as indicating lower-class people. buildings at different angles. 1973) and other high-status enclaves. to a village and a housing estate. Appearance was important and exterior maintenance influenced judgments greatly. It suggests that the distinction between neat and unkempt landscapes is interpreted in two ways in the United States and that specific subcultural group characteristics need to be considered. 1981). Thus the middle group evaluated highly manicured planting positively and wild. is what gives extremely different meanings. In Britain. It also reinforces the major point that. Fences influenced quality and "friendliness. that is. 1979). types of people. meaning. "interesting" and "intimate" groupings (in themselves inferential judgments). natural landscape negatively.
in a Third World context. In the United States generally. everything is rich in beauty. Thus a student was able to show in a term paper that when trees are removed. lush vegetation has a very different meaning to that traditionally found in Latin America. however. as we have seen. once seen as positive. in the United States it is found that there is more agreement about environmental quality of natural landscapes and nature than about human-made landscapes (Craik and Zube. for example due to Dutch elm disease. in the United States over the past 200 years. the positive or negative meaning of these. 1979). In the case being discussed. it uses an affective evocative quote from Crabbe (without defining "village"): "Thy walks are ever pleasant. 1976). Generally. the M'Buti pygmies regard the forest as good.158 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT example. subcultural differences are found relating to the amount of vegetation and its naturalness. lively or serene" (Architects Journal. where such cues may be seen as negative. can change. population decline is also greater in the former than in the latter (Schroeder. even here the differences are smaller than in the case of other elements. It is also possible to find adjoining cultural groups giving contrary meanings to environments.Thus nature/culture as a distinction seems almost universal and is often expressed through the contrast natural/human-made or controlled. and vice versa-their meanings as "sacred" and "profane" have reversed (Tuan.The pygmies also go through rites of passage as they move from one of these worlds . the plantations and fields as bad. in the Midwest and in this case in Milwaukee. whereas the adjacent Bantu farmers see the latter as good and the former as bad (Turnbull. 1977). a sales brochure makes clear that it is the "village image" that is being sold. Note how frequently planting and vegetation enter into the reading of meaning. 1976: 53)-although the evidence here being presented suggests that even in the human-made environment there is much agreement. One example is the major change in the meaning given wild mountain scenery with the Romantic Movement (Nicolson. However. has become negative. At the same time. Its changes can be studied historically-and have been. This suggests that nature forms a domain separate from the human-made and is evaluated separately (Rapoport. Similarly. 1959). generally being identified with high status (Rapoport. The former. and the Anglo-American culture area more broadly. 1977). 1961: 53-54). a complete reversal has occurred between the meanings of city and wilderness. Thus. property values tend t o go down compared to comparable areas with no tree loss. 1974).
and s o on (Backler. we find the use of a common set of variables setting up contrasts (in this case. increased traffic congestion. graffiti. for the Fang. Australia Yet. 1969). . in the Anglo-American cul(Rapoport. it is the bush. that is profane and the village humanized and habitable (Fernandez. Underlying much of our discussion here. natural/humanmade) but with different meanings attached to them. accessibility to desired uses (recreation. or wilderness. many of which are related to maintenance. Thus in Detroit. model and it is such areas that we most easily and typically identify as " g o o d areas in neighborhoods in strange cities (Rapoport. in Sydney. the meaning of the area is related to maintenance in its broadest sense. large lot size. of the cases under consideration. as we shall see. and. and the like) and distance from undesirable uses (the nature of these and the proximities can also be studied. i. changes indicating negative qualities include reduced maintenance and hence deterioration of houses.ure. and delinquency (boarded-up shops. 1977: 32). Thus if o n e considers high-income groups. natural amenities. These are all seen as urban threats and have negative meaning. vegetation. is the general notion of maintenance. Note that many of these qualities are based on maintenance. historically. In terms of our earlier discussion. signs indicating crime. and many of the specific cues indicating environmental quality. industrial and commercial development. 1977: 88-89). grilles on shops. and s o on). generally. Peterson and Worall. 1972). Thus. 1977)-a contrast similar to the two periods in the United States discussed above. although not all. against certain contexts. as was the case between Wahroonga and Vaucluse. at the urban scale. schemata. 1974). people manifesting delinquency or hippiness). such choices tend to be closer to the Wahroonga. exclusive golf and c o u n t y clubs. which influences appearance. increased noise. above all. one does find differing choices made. reduced green open space. Also. high perceived density is based on inferences made by matching perceived characteristics. street cleanliness. loss of services. images. outmigration of "good" people and inmigration of "bad" people (for example.Urban Examples of Applications 159 to the other-for them the village is profane. parks. who have maximum choice. exclusion of undesirable people. many recreational facilities generally. upper-class areas can have different environment quality variables. character of houses. then. But even here one finds some regularity. they lead to a fear that crowding will develop (Carson. high-income areas can be identified through privacy. One could argue that in many. violence. or rural image.
160 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT .
CAM[L" c' pkgdd~~w) Qw - Figure 27 Continued .Urban Examples of Applications 161 NEW L Ct U ~ e e u 5 L ~ T Y i i ~ ~ ~ ~MILUAU%% r i i r .
the street pattern is a grid. a mixture of one. see Rapoport. and harmony with nature. The new housing is clearly meant to be "suburban. Similarly. 1977). churches. The last was sufficiently important to lead to a higher ranking being given to high-rise development vis-a-vis old. this image also explains the form of that development. The context is of two-story. The variables that communicate that image are clearly revealed by new center-city housing in Milwaukee. and a variety of trees freely arranged versus large elms in lines along the streets (now gone due to Dutch elm disease). low degree of enclosure versus high degree of enclosure. Note two things: the nature of the cues as well as the high level of redundancy. road and site layouts that communicate a feeling of spaciousness and privacy. subdued colors as opposed to bright colors. 2). This unmistakable message is reinforced in the actual experience of these environments. while green spaces had little influence on positive meaning. 1967b). and the like versus their presence. open space. appearance of expensiveness. the sensory cues indicating positive environmental quality often include appearance of newness (that is. contrasting with the urban.and two-story houses as opposed to all two-story.162 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT and norms. In this case. an absence of monotony. traditional environments that designers would rank much more positively. the basic positive meaning of residential environments is still summed u p by the suburban image. 1967a. low complexity versus high complexity: lawns. such as greenery. mixed forms of housing as opposed to a f single type. for example. absence of corner shops. shrubs. and privacy (Peterson. the absence of shops and restaurants.and earlytwentieth-century frame houses on narrow lots (see Beckley. includes the name "Parkview" (for downtown housing!. Wisconsin. low perceived age and no obsolescence). the use of many cues. Suburban image In the United States. but o the "universal" suburban ranch-style variety rather than the midwest frame. . and newness were important. This suburban image. the Netherlands (see Jaanus and Nieuwenhuijse. nineteenth. naturalness. curved streets as opposed to the grid. 1977: ch. Greenery seems to be rather less important in the case of other countries." contrasting with the negative connotations of the above urban environment. high levels of maintenance with no deterioration or disorder. low perceived density as opposed to high perceived density. "superblocks" with culs-de-sac as opposed to "pass-through streets. 1978).
associational.. It is these inferences. little subtended building in the field of vision) few signs few lights and low artificial light levels . At the same time.e .which car] be interpreted partly in these terms) Dense Perceptual tight spaces intricate spaces open spaces simple spaces Not Dense These terms are. and sociocultural cues are used to make inferences about the density of areas. of course. and so forth. Moreover. 1 9 7 5 ~ )A partial list of these hypothesized cues .the suggestion is that not all need be present for environments to be judged as o n e or the other. a large amount of subtended building in the field of vision) many signs many lights and high artificial light levels low height to space ratio (i. large building height to space (i. They can be discussed in terms of complexity. 1975c: 138-140. The notion of that concept is that a variety of physical.reference cites deleted). and how these cues reinforce or cancel each other are subjects for research. the number needed to infer densities and hence the meaning of areas. difficult to define at the moment. and contrasts as one moves through them This helps us further to understand the intended meaning and how it is communicated (see Figure 27). fixed-feature elements play an important role in establishing meaning. They also seem intuitively clear to most people-admitting that they are a matter of degree and affected by culture. it is interesting to note that many of the cues agree well with a list of cues proposed as indicating low perceived density. 1976.Urban Examples of Applications 163 the transitions. not actual density in people per unit area. Clearly the list of cues.e. our discussion so far and the Milwaukee example support this notion (see also McLaughlin. follows (from Rapoport. although semifixed-feature elements-particularly vegetation-are important. adaptation levels. that are matched against norms and ideals to make judgments of acceptability and desirability (Rapoport. Note that in the above case.
apartments. Temporal fast tempos and rhythms of activity activities extending over 24 hours per day slow tempos and rhythms of activity activities reducing or ceasing at certain times the absence of "defenses" allowing the control of interaction the presence of "defenses" allowing the control of interaction Generally. then. would be read v e y differently (e. or isolates them. the same number of people in an environmental configuration that exposes them to others.164 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Dense many people (or their traces) visible mostly human-made (little greenery) high noise levels many human-made smells many cars-high traffic density and much parking Not Dense few people (ox their traces) visible mostly natural (much greeney) low noise levels few human-made smells few cars-low traffic density and little parking Generally the number of physical. the presence of fences. or offices may indicate high density even when spaces and other perceptual cues indicate low density in residential areas the absence of private gardens and entrances low buildings may indicate low densities even if other cues indicate the opposite in residential areas the presence of gardens and entrances The relative impact and importance of perceptual and associational/symbolic cues are important questions. sensory stimuli that indicate the presence of people. . and the like).. tall buildings. courtyards.g. compounds.
Sociocultural high levels of social interaction leading to social overload low levels of social interaction and absence of social overload This depends on culturally (and individually) defined desired levels as well as the form and effectiveness of defenses. and the like-that can be used by people and whether they are actually used (i. meeting places. lead~ng to judgments of more effective space being available and hence of lower densities. Where they are present and used extensively. shops. and so on Thus the availability of many nondwelling places-pubs. streets. meeting places.. to choice. control of environment . more people visible. control by environment feeling of presence of control. choice. the house-settlement system) will affect the perception of density. and s o forth.Urban Examples of Applications 165 Dense high levels of "attractive stimuli" the absence of other adjacent places for use-streets. more traffic. and s o on Not Dense low levels of "attractive stimuli" the presence of other adjacent places for use-streets. In this case the presence of nonresidential uses leads to higher rates of information from the environment itself. f feeling o lack of control. There are thus two contradictory effects with complex results.e. lead~ng judgments of less effective space being available and hence of higher densities. and freedom. parks. an area would be perceived as less dense because more effective area is available for use and activities and groups may be separated in space and time. or freedom. the presence of nonresidential land uses in a residential area and mixed land uses generally the absence of nonresidential land uses in a residential area and absence of mixed land uses generally This is in apparent conflict with the previous characteristics.
socialization. Not Dense social homogeneity along some subjectively defined dimensions-hence increased predictability and redundancy and lower effective density in terms o informationf processing needs. and s o forth at high densities (i. and s o forth at low densities (i. and hence acting inappropriately culture. reduced redundancy. socialization. and so on. the inability to read symbols and cues. These feelings may differ for various groups-by sex.e.166 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT The alternative hypothesis. and s o on. adaptation level at low densities) previous experience. Dense social heterogeneity along some subjectively defined dimensions-hence increased unpredictability. that lack of control means lack of pressure to make decisions and hence the perception of less density. and higher effective density in terms of informationprocessing needs. ability to read cues and symbols. defined as the control of unwanted interaction and alsovia social norms defining behavior appropriate to various density situations.e. nonverbal behavior. not sharing rules. and hence acting appropriately One example might be agreement about rules regarding private/ public and front/back domains. absence of culturally shared and accepted nonphysical "defenses" and control mechanisms for regulating social interaction presence of culturally shared and accepted nonphysical "defenses" and control mechanisms of regulating social interaction previous experience.adaptation level at high densities) . This suggests that density and crowding are related via privacy.. is unlikely in view of evidence that lack of control is associated with increased stress and with the general argument that density is related to interaction and that privacy is the ability to control unwanted interaction. age. sharing of rules..
. Consider a study in Atlanta in which well-being in residential areas was correlated with various environmental characteristics (James et al. that is. the image and meaning of recreation. houses not crowded and too close together. . untidiness. low child density (an important variable in many studies.. or manifest aspects. and streets. most of the studies dealing with environmental quality in Anglo-American culture are remarkably consistent. then. have them communicate more positive meanings. This becomes even clearer when we consider suggestions for making townhouses and condominia more acceptable. and s o on also fit into this framework. and natural features. Burby et al. dwellings. absence of nuisances. among others. graffiti. Errnuth. Moreover. or spaciousness. low noise levels. 1976). is to communicate as many as possible of the positive meanings associated with residential areas and as few as possible of the negative ones: meaning and image are being manipulated in a particular way (although other ways are possible). high pollution levels and noise. good maintenance of landscape.These characteristics can be intkrpreted as cues. lawns. that the best predictor of satisfaction in residential areas is low perceived density-for example. pleasant views. 1977). industrial invasion. and s o on (see Norcross. in attaching positive meaning to those cues that indicate low perceived density. 1974). the meaning of which depends on a contrast between those seen as positive and those seen as negative. that are important). that it is the latent aspect.That this interpretation is true is confirmed by the finding in Britain. many trees. as much open space as possible. 'These are all related to indicating the lowest possible perceived density (and the associated higher status): the presence of recreational facilities (recall. absence of nonresidential uses. Their meaning is due to the fact that they are surrogates for people-or for particular types of people. 1974. as we have seen. yards. homogeneity with " g o o d people. good privacy.Urban Examples of Applications 167 The impact of poor maintenance. reduction of greenery. rather than use. litter. hence variety rather than monotony in design. expressed in terms of average number of stories of dwellings and the number of dwellings visible within 150 meters (Metcalf. associated both with maintenance and perceived density). shrubs. poor road surfaces. short dwelling rows and individuality of dwellings. however. 1973. What the Milwaukee housing and the other examples try to do.
" i. fringe commercial.. and public facilities distant from arterial streets and hence public transport absence of outsiders much grass. etc. vacant lots few trees. freeways high pedestrian densities and many visitors bare dirt. public health centers. diverse landscaping) little effort at landscaping unkempt. no lawns between buildings and streets heavy littering presence of weeds front areas with vegetables.168 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Positive much open space residential pocket away from the bustle of urban activity separated from traffic. railroads.. indicated by "contemporary street patterns. curved Streets.e. sports fields.. rather than lawns and shrubs (i. schools. parking.e. industrial. well-maintained lawns. or flowers many parked cars (no off-street parking) presence of commercial. culs-de-sac. uniform landscaping open space with natural vistas views of attractive humanmade features few paved areas well-maintained landscaping many trees off-street parking mainly private dwellings quiet narrow streets few traffic lights newness. and other nonresidential uses noisy one-way streets deterioration and poor state of repair of sidewalks many "for sale" and "for rent" signs I: seems clear that these elements correspond to notions of high environmental quality already discussed repeatedly in this book (see . Negative congested proximity to libraries. etc. bushes.
or whatever. where a large black area begins (Milwaukee Journal." Actual physical boundaries are also important. and "obeyed. need to be noticed. reduce actual mobility and penetration. 1979). 1977: ch. what cues indicate neutrality-location. low perceived density.We thus begin to see a potential relation between environmental meaning and social interaction or communication-a topic to be discussed in Chapter 7. land. Tennessee. At this point. A striking example of the relation of this to mobility and its meaning is provided by a recent report that a federal appeals court refused a six. o n e finds that parks are seen a:. understood. of course. desirable areas. slnce it may be a grocery. and. 1971. what cues indicate "owned" areas. owned areas (Rapoport.Urban Examples of Applications 189 also Rapoport. They are seen as desirable also because they can become a "no-man'!. It is also clear that the meaning of these elements has to d o with the inferences made about the kinds o people f living there and the potential interactions (since well-being is clearly correlated with social relations and interaction). a teahouse. While this would. which. 1977). year long attempt by white residents of the Hein Park neighborhood in Memphis. I have pointed out elsewhere that many traditional cities restrict mobility while the U. however. to block a street called West Drive at its north end. also have meaning. particularly since movement and mobility. 1972)? In this connection. 1968. Second. generally. 2). neighborhood stability. What it tried to communicate was: This . because they are there as cues of positive environmental quality. much is made of "symbol~c" boundaries.S. even more." keeping strangers out of neighborhoods. a men's house. 1977: 21). But two questions came up First. city stresses it and facilitates it in prim ciple (Rapoport. particularly their latent aspects. Suttles. it may be sufficient to suggest that the inferences made about people by reading physical environments influence and help organize social relations and interaction. use. I have argued in a number of places that interaction best occurs in what I call neutral places among homogeneous. o r defensible space (Newman. desirable not only because they can be used and. territory and s o on7 This clearly requires cultural knowledge. However. I would argue that the major purpose of this attempt was"symbolic"-it was at the level of meaning. Recall that one set of cues of environmental quality had to do with the absence of strangers.
"closed". and good upkeep. . however this is done. Thus the whole notion of indicating boundaries by means of noticeable differences to delineate social groups. is important. contrasting meanings. 1977. once again. the court said. The question has been raised as to why fences are s o common in Mormon areas. it is clear that in a place such as England or Australia. 1977). Clearly. their perception. which must precede understanding and behavior. This is. becomes very significant. the closure would. doorways and thresholds. while all cultures distinguish among domains. concern. 1 9 7 8 . are seen at the level of meaning. and mark boundaries. the analysis of fences tells much about Mormon culture (as can the analysis of other artifacts). forthcoming ) . 1969. and to define entry or exclusion. whether about appropriate behavior or appropriation. once again. are not necessarily spatial or physical but. noticeable and recognizable effective reminders and warnings are created. As one subtle point: The number of gates indicated the number of wives a man had (Leone. marking perceived differences among two groups and setting up social boundaries.170 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT neighborhood is homogenous. Significantly. of course. By marking them.Rapoport. of course. and to contrast what these boundaries define or contain. the court's refusal was also on such grounds of meaning. where fences are common. In that case. domains. if you will. and the corresponding domains. 1973). again depending on context. and so on. or high crime-rates that make their use necessary.Also. related to our earlier discussion about boundary markers as objects (fixed feature or semifixed feature). It is important to mark boundaries. Consider fences." Thus mobility and equal access to all parts of the city. as well as their opposites. or some areas of the United States. as being about human communication or social relations. and their spatial equivalents. be a "badge of slavery. is helped by clear and unambiguous markers-noticeable differences of all kinds. they may indicate appropriation. the use of fences is much more variable. One could argue that the blocked street is a boundary cue. it was. This relates to the discussion above of the environment as a mnemonic. boundary-marking rituals (nonfixed feature in time or space).Wellman. Social boundaries. Context. Their absence can similarly have two analogous. attempting to exclude particular groups (see Barth. that is. All communicate meanings the basic function of which is to reinforce basic cultural categories. These tend to reduce or eliminate conflict. rather than in purely instrumental or manifest terms. In the latter. they have different meanings than in places where they are rare. the equivalent of walled developments (Rapoport.
T o most others. As another example. of defended neighborhoods. W e have seen that frequently they are seen as signs of highly negative environmental quality. While many of the cues having to d o with maintenance and the like communicate this. however. or as signs of appropriation. Yet these cues can be ambiguous: The presence of a set of objects such as "junk" and stripped cars.the presence of personal objects and the like. for example.. with resultant fear. 1979). and hence lead to social behaviors.In this latter case they can be read: their quality and location display regularities and indicate the distribution of social attitudes as well as predicting subsequent behavior in space. Perceived crime and its fear has low correspondence to actual crime. including physical deterioration. of crime. are extremely important in fear of crime. and so on.Urban Examples of Applications 17 1 Much is made of ownership and appropriation of space in connection with crime control through defensible space (see Newman. Thus all the signs we have been dis- . In this connection we can return to graffiti. and litter. "territorial markers" (see Ley and Cybriwsky. it is often suggested that appropriation is indicated by personal~zation.it is clear that signs of disintegration of the social order. or washing machines on porches. deterioration in the physical environment and signs of lack of caring about it are interpreted as signs of erosion of the social order and hence perceived as crime. an attempt to overcome anomie. 1971). 1963). The cues will elicit appropriate responses if understood. the latter interpretation is more likely since ambiguous cues are matched against a shared schema of "appropriation" or "slum. they d o not communicate those meanings but others. motorcycles. 1974)." and the cues just described generally indicate "slum" Thus the meaning of cues is related to culture and context-they aresubjectively defined and interpreted Thus meaning depends on some knowledge of the context and the culture. refrigerators. its rules and schemata. vandalism. Given our discussion in this chapter. signs of vandalism. they communicate the ownership of territories and turfs to teenagers and gangs-that is. They can also be seen as an art form. and lead to behavior such as general avoidance of such areas In s t ~ ~ d y i n g and defensible space on the neighborhood level crime (Taylor et al. In other words. there is a question about how appropriation is indicated Regarding maintenance. such as high crime rates. they are markers of group boundaries. that is. one person's lived-in area is another person's slum. we have seen how particular forms of landscaping can be misinterpreted as neglect (Sherif and Sherif. For example. and the like can indicate either appropriation or the existence of a "slum".
disregarding major disagreement one may have about the validity of meanings of suburbia discussed by Perin (1977. of urban management. vandalism. 1976). and many others-all communicate social status.there is considerable agreement about the elements (detached dwellings. This is the significance of the argument above about the differing interpretations of the libertarian suburb (Barnett. varied houses. rural life. and so on. has clear behavioral consequences. evaluated as "good1' and "bad. litter. and the estates of the rich (Venturi and Rauch. The elements come from history. rural image. 1976. detached. see a review by Rapoport. in AngloAmerican culture. purely residential uses. where the particular cues indicate a particular group of people who are. personal identity. This is. that is. and the like) . variety and complexity in design. romantic rooflines. social homogeneity. individual freedom. The meaning and role of all such cues helps to explain the increasing stress on the importance of management in housing (see Francescato et al. and high social status indicate good people and hence high environmental quality: They are positive meanings. It is interesting that in judging an area as a "mess" in one such study (Sauer. garden yrnaments. then. Thus. 1979d). 1977. This. types of front doors and mailboxes. of course. 1977: 26) the now familiar cues are used: garbage and trash strewn around. an abandoned car in the middle of the site. 1977). social homogeneity. and so on. nostalgia. by inferences regarding the definition of the social situation. good maintenance and appearance. low perceived density. As in all other cases. 1977. bad upkeep. privacy. it is clear that these cues communicate environmental quality not only directly but also by indicating the presence of absence of " g o o d or "bad" people. This has to do with the role of management in ensuring good maintenance. vandalism. such as avoidance. 1979.. 1977) and. The physical elements of suburbia-winding roads. bare earth. low child density.172 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT cussing that stand for slum also imply crime: the two meanings are linked. Ahlbrandt and Brophy. social aspirations." In other words. coach lanterns. patriotism. Sauer. the point stressed throughout: environmental quality variables are such because they have social meaning. lawns. in turn. by extension. It thus influences the cues present and hence the meaning of areas: Good management leads to good maintenance and is communicated through it. and increasingly elsewhere. Brower. Beck and Teasdale. 1977. Hole.
are all ways of establishing and maintaining a particular image. Italians. corner shops. restaurants. the maintenance of which is seen as the role of planning [see Werthman. landscaping. 1968) As people move through cities (as well as landscapes).Urban Examples of Applications 173 and the fact that it is the meaning of these that is most important. variety of house styles. protective metal grilles. These settings did more than fulfill the needs of people. changing from being a Jewish area to becoming a black area. 1 9 7 2 . absence of mixed land uses. therefore. they tend to travel along well-defined routes As a result. once marked. Massachusetts. boarded u p or empty shops. are included or excluded. which days they closed. and s o forth. Similarly. 1973). it was found that the people remaining became aware of the change when certain stores and institutions disappeared from the shopping areas. The suburban environment is intended to maintain the distinctions among groups. or Jews-even if they constituted a minority of that area: The visibility of the cues along the arterial routes was significant (Chudacoff. and so on (Ginsberg. butcher shops. business strips often define areas as "skid rows" and as deteriorating. that is. All the cues indicate status and lifestyle s o that lawns. how late they stayed open. Thus one frequently judges areas through shopping streets and arterials f as "bad" or "good. as did the nature of the new shops. in Omaha. at the lurn of the century. lanes). even more important was the location of that group's businesses and social and religious institutions-the churches." deteriorating or upgrading based on sets o cues such as types of shops. which are judged in terms of the environments in which they live. even religious buildings. clubs. groceries. bakeries. For example. of communicating social meanings and identity. they frequently make judgments on the basis of what is perceived along that route. it was found that although the proportion of an ethnic group living in particular areas was significant in judging its ethnic character. litter. 1975). or as high class-or even as back areas. Their presence along particular stretches of roads led to the identification of the surrounding neighborhood as belongingto Bohemians. special recreational facilities. they stood for the nature of the area-they communicated its meaning. One also infers the ethnic character of areas behind these arterial streets. which may exist at the neighborhood scale (for example. In the case of an area in Matappan. Nebraska. . It is meaning that is the raison d'&trefor the particular definition of environmental quality. and these groups.
their behavior. but with each other..g. etc. One could compare maintenance levels of shops. empty lots. and many other specific variables. to compare specific combinations of uses. it was then possible to move easily to a more systematic. and to identify what was sold in groceries or served in restaurants. it proved possible to identify those cues that characterize low-income shopping streets generally as opposed to those that characterize black shopping streets as opposed to those of other groups. their clothing (style. In the case of a black business street in Chicago (Pred. color). quantitative comparison of the distribution of different uses. As one example. Cues observed included: sounds generally. Anderson and Moore. through observation. we use such cues to judge the takeover of areas by ethnic groups. how bar facades are treated (open versus closed). 1972). Thus business thoroughfares not only contrast with residential areas. the redundancy of cues in a range of sensory modalities. Note. and so on. . Thus in Southall. 1963).). They have major functions in communicating tneanings and they can also define the ethnic. an area of London. One could clearly discriminate between various types of shopping streets and make judgments and inferences about them and the people in them. and can be interpreted as expressions of culture since their material features have cultural meanings.174 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT at the urban scale. noise levels. income or racial character of areas. musical sounds types of people (e. and shops. storefront churches. This could be done impressionistically. regional scale. number of vacant shops. colors. vocal and other nonverbal behaviors the variety of varied uses (which could be counted) types of shops facades of shops. that is. service establishment. in the way I have been describing. I would suggest that we customarily use them in very similar ways to judge all kinds of environments in our daily lives. signs advertising particular kinds of foodsthe types of people encountered. such as shopfronts types of cars smells the visible presence of many activities (as opposed to the absence of visible activities in comparable white areas) As in other cases that we have already discussed (e.g. once again.
newspaper shops are full of Asian papers and magazines. and so on). there are temples. activities." and "private bars" becomes a different place because all the people are Asians. In Miami. where they are found and their temporal distribution (who does what. language."'stores with Spanish names. One sees hardly any white faces. the Bank of Baroda branch office. clothing in shops is different. behind the facades of typical English suburban architecture. At a larger scale. Moreover. Spanish newspapers and Span~sh-languageeditorials in English-language newspapers. newspapers on the back seats of parked cars are in Punjabi. posters advertising Indian entertainment. the use of Spanish by half the people in streets. that is. Cuban foods sold in supermarkets. Atypical English pub. two yearsfollowing Castro's takeover of Cuba. supermarkets carry a wide variety of Asian foods. signs in shops saying "Se Habla Espanol. personal observation in Southall. the Punjabi grocers. in a walk through Southall (or other comparable areas). and s o o n (Webb et a1 . or IJrdu. where. when. clothing and possessions. with a heavy wooden bar. 1966). spices. the manufacture o f Cuban types of cigarettes.Urban Examples of Applications 175 and how they are dressed all quickly suggest an Asian takeover. the oriental store. Those doors that are open reveal. Hindi. Smells are of curry. a stroll through that area by any observer-designer. journalist. and rigid divisions among "public. where people live and their location in public space. used in unobtrusive measures (see Webb et al. pitted plastic tile floor. and Indian food. These communicate a variety of meanings. Spanish radio broadcasts." "saloon.and nonfixed-feature realm: The streets and the buildings have not changed Also. Indian driving schools and insurance offices. a totally different culture (Sydney Morning Herald 1972. Spanish services held in forty Miami churches. and many others. cinemas show Indian films. are cues that can be seen as examples of erosion or accretion trace1. and including or excluding whom). the music on the jukebox is Indian.their expressive movements. jukebox. 1966: 119) all clearly communicated social change . cues such as bilingual street signs. communicate urban meanings and are accessible through observation.. This is clearly merely a more extreme version of what we have been discussing. Florida. or layperson-allows the cues and their meanings to be read easily Many of these noticeable differences in various sensory modalitiec. Bethnal Green. there are no women. Exterior physical signs in the fixedand semifixed-feature domains. Latin American foods on restaurant menus. most of the cues are in the semifixed. we pass the Kenya Butchery.
The strength of such cues would make them difficult to miss and would influence human behavior and communication. seem striking. The similarity of this to the processes of nonverbal communication as commonly understood does. . indeed. to read the environment.176 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Within that city. certain areas with particularly high concentrations of Cubans. derive meanings. 1977: 152-153). such as that called Habana Chica (the name itself is a cue!) could be identified by a greater density of the above cues and also the type and volume of music heard. by using one's senses and thinking about what one notices. encouraging some and discouraging others from entering or penetrating such areas. and the general atmosphere and ambience (Rapoport. the use only of Spanish. aromas of spices. What is striking in all these analyses and descriptions is how easy it seems to be. and make social inferences. the presence of men conversing around coffee stands and the type of coffee served.
1978). the case It is also generally the anthropological view that in all cultures. to askwhat is meant by "environment"? In dealing with this question in a part~cular way. but one need<. MEANING. I begin with an apparently d~fferent s topic--the nature of "environment " The nature of "environment" I have been discussing meaning in the environment. 1974. Toward the end of Chapter 6. that the informat~on artifacts is used for social marking and for the consequent organization of communication among people I thus now turn to a cons~deration of t h ~ toptc As usual. Siegman and Feldstein. there have been some hints that this is. indeed. material objects and art~factsare used to organize soclal relations through encoded in forms and nonverbal communication.ENVIRONMENT. and scattered elsewhere in this volume. can also be considered in such termsthat IS. AND COMMUNICATION Since traditional nonverbal communication studies in the nonfixedfeature realm have largely been concerned with the role nonverbal behavior plays in human interaction and communication (see Abrahamson. ii seems useful to ask whether environmental meaning. as a form of nonverbal communication. however. 1966. whether there is a relationship between environmental meaning and those behaviors related to interaction and communication among people This question is also most relevant given our stress on context and pragmat~cs. I will also address the issue of the distinction between . Scheflen.
it is useful conceptually to separate them and discuss them as though they were separate. 1970. 1980b. while "meaning" refers to nonverbal communication from the environment to people. 1977. 1 9 7 6 b . see Rapoport. organizing both people's lives and the settings for their lives. and people and people. However. Before discussing these. Lawton. 1979a. spatial-objects and people are related through various degrees of separation in and by space." which is too broad a term to be used successfully (as are"culturen and many others. 1974. although not exclusively. In the case of the environment. I will first briefly discuss space and time (for a more complete discussion. as it were. 1 9 7 9 b . these terms still seem the best available to describe what is being discussed. since this leads to a better understanding of the nature of environments and the relationships between meaning and communication. 1 9 6 0 . But when environments are being designed. These relationships are orderly. the relationships are primarily. it can be suggested that the environment can be seen as a series of relationships between things and things.178 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT meaning and communication and. Moos. There are different ways of conceptualizing "the environment. all of which discuss possible components of this term. Since. 1 9 8 0 ~ ) . the relationship between these two is the most important. 1977). finally. Both are guided by schemata that act as templates. things and people. four elements are being organized (Rapoport. Rapoport. for our purposes here. that is. Different conceptualizations of the term "environment" have been proposed (Ittelson. While all environments constitute complex interrelationships among these four elements. see Rapoport. ." "Communication" refers to verbal or nonverbal communication among people. 1 9 8 0 ~ ) . they have a pattern and a structure-the environment is not a random assemblage of things and people any more than a culture is a random assemblage of behaviors or beliefs. 1977): space time communication meaning There is some degree of ambiguity in the use of the terms "communication" and "meaning. try to relate these three terms.
the respectwe future and past orientations have also led to very different cultural landscapes (Lowenthal. and relationsh~ps between people and people. and comparing built environments. Intuitively. "see" and evaluate space differently make any definition of space difficult. It is of interest to note that one can describe a great variety of "types" of space (Rapoport 1970a) This variety and the fact that different groups. therefore. the intervals. Such time structuring also influences how lime ~svalued and. the cyclic view of time (as opposed to our linear conception) has helped preserve elements (plants and animals. things and things. The first refers to large-scale. live in time as well as space-the environment is also temporal. 1968. future orientation versus past orientation. environment Thus in India. however. and purposes of the individuals or groups doing the organizing At the same time. Lowenthal and Prince. and Communication 179 Organization of space Plann~ng design on all scales-from regions to furniture groupand ings-can be seen as the organization of space for different purposes and according to different rules. Thus we advertise watches as . 1964. 1964) In the case of the United States and Britain. through those. This influences behavior and decisions and. representing the congruence (or. and can. whether cultures or subcultures such as designers and the lay public. how finely it is subdivided Into limits. 1965). the lack of congruence) between physical space and social space. the future as an improvement over the past versus the future as likely to be worse. however. the way in which these separations (and linkages) occur and is central in understanding. analyzing. in cases where the system ceases to work.Environment. which reflect the activities. Meaning. Space organization is. then. cognitive structuring of time such as linear flow (typical of our own culture) versus cyclic time (much more typical of many traditional cultures). and has also helped shape the character of cities (Sopher. space organjzation also reflects ideal images. hence. distances. Organization of time People. space is the three-dimensional extension of the world around us. values. people and things. for example) that otherwise would have disappeared. also be seen as the organization of time reflecting and influencing behavior in time This may be understood in at least two major ways.
whereas in traditional Pueblo culture. when. weekday and rest day. seasonal. assert or define identity. lowland Scots of the southwest use the church. 1977). 1979). Organization of communication The organization of space and time are both aspects of the general question one can ask about human activities-who does what. carnivals. Tempos and rhythms distinguish among groups and individuals who have different temporal "signatures" and they may also be congruent or incongruent with each other. 1972). as when one group. Such cultural differences clearly influence the second major way in which cultural differences in the organization of time can be consideredthe tempos and rhythms of human activities. and where-they are the w h e n and where. and another group (in this case Southern Italians) regard it as a time for noise and boisterous activity (Rapoport. or instead of. however. these also need settings. sacred and profane times. Groups with different tempos may never communicate. temporal. At the same time. and s o on). periodic. Note also that many behaviors (nonfixed-feature elements) that are used to establish boundaries. festivals. in effect. including or excluding whom. space and groups with different rhythms occupying the same space may never meet. are. This applies to pilgrimages and other ritual movements. Thus the meaning of these elements depends on the temporal use they receive-the periodic gatherings. The who does what with whom is the organization of com- . although while they are happening they need and use settings and other physical elements. Groups with different rhythms may also be in conflict. and so on. and other rites (see One example of this is provided by Scotland. where Rapoport. while in the Borders area of lowland Scotland the town is the significant setting (Neville.Cultural conflicts and problems may often be more severe at the temporal level than at the spatial. highland games an "arena". regards a particular time as quiet and for sleep. Thus people may be separated in time as well as. The highland clan gatherings use ancestral castles.180 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT being accurate within one second a year. the number of events per unit time and the distribution of activities in time (day and night. recurrent ceremonial assemblies based on pilgrimages are used to organize the links between urban centers and hinterlands. a week was the smallest relevant time unit (Ortiz. 1981). that is. although clearly spatial and temporal aspects interact and influence one another: People live in space-time. respectively. in this case the Swiss.
physical devices such as walls. and Communication 181 rnunication among people. by planting. maintenance. We have been discussing meaning for some time. rules. as a system of ~nteract~on withdrawal. the nature. organization of time. Organization of meaning Space organization. and so on-that is. when. 1976b. doors. by the presence of particular people. is also related to it-one can study the various individuals and groups who are linked or separated. both conceptually and in fact. as already noted While space organization itself expresses meaning and has communicative properties. intensity. inhibit it Both environments and commun~cationare culturally variable. forms. facilitate it. control it. manners. which can more usefully be seen as an aspect of the organlzatlon of meaning The organization of meaning can then be separated from the organization of space. and the mechanisms used: separation in space. which then become indicators of social position. as used here. by treatment of floor or ground surfaces or level changes. is a more fundamental property of the environment than is shape. where. refers to communication among people. under what conditions. as I have used it above. channel it. ways of defining situations and hence indicat- . Privacy. furnishings. the materials that give it physical expression and othercharacteristics. colors. semifixed-. and the like.Environment. landscaping. and the like-as we have already seen-and by people themselves Thus spatial meanings can be Indicated by walls or other sharp breaks. rate. Who communicates with whom. 1977). and in what context and situation is an important way in w h ~ c h communication and the built environment are related Environments both reflect communication and modulate it. after reiterating that meaning is communication from the environment to people. by fixed-. ways of establishing group or social identity. sizes. the sensory modalities involved. how. Thus both spatial and other systems of cues may identify sett~ngs. and avoidance and psychological withdrawal (Rapoport. and direction of interaction v a y as d o the settings appropriate to and it. meaning is often expressed through signs. and nonfixed-feature elements (see Figure 28). or by gradients or transitions They can be indicated by sanctity (the presence of religious symbols). by various objects or furnishings-of buildings or urban spaces. whether face to face or in other ways. materials. whereas communication. Meaning. but it may be useful to restate the principal features of its organization.
although. as I have tried to show.182 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT -f'of2~ Figure 28 ing expected behavior-but only if the cues are comprehensible and can be decoded. dominance. . and so on). avoidance. The purpose of structuring space and time is to organize and structure communication (interaction. this decoding is not usually too difficult.
People know which relationships have changed. 1978: 147). used to indicate shiftare ing communication and interaction patterns. Meaning. Similarly. in the mill villages in North Carolina. 1961). when. interesting. and so on (Glass. such as changed entrance directions. the community was small enough for these differences to be known to all. an interesting and important question arises: Under what conditions would the environment be morelorless important regarding the meanings it provides? Let us pose this question in terms of when it is less important. and the building of spite fences (Turnbull. but these mnemonics help everyone and certainly help new arrivals or people returning to the camp after an absence to understand the current situation. such as in a village. as aspects of the environment is our principal theme. also provides information about status. In this latter connection. which was further reinforced by the former being larger. However. and Communication 183 and this is done partly through organizing meaning. influencing communication. such environmental meaning may be useful. It does this in a way we have not yet discussed-the meaning inherent in settings populated by particular groups and of communicating lifestyle. These are an important part of both the context and the situation that influences communication. a small community. and complex ways. and other variables. ethnicity. The organization of communication also influences the organization of the other three variables-in fact. lifestyle. all four interact in many. it communicates how. the distance from the mill and topographic elevation communicated perceived distance in status between overseers' houses and workers' houses.Environment. houses turned around. Meaning. that is. and the like has the purpose of locating people one does not know in social space and. we have seen that in the even smaller M'Buti camp. an aboriginal camp. For example. The argument has been that meaning often communicates the context (who should interact with whom. through that mechanism. physical cues. meaning and communication. however. For example: (a) Environmental meanings are less important in small places where everyone is known. The relationship between meaning and communication The relationship of the last two. . under what conditions). having porches. A number of conditions immediately comes to mind. they are cer. status.yet. as we have seen. or the like. Even in such cases.
more complex environments. and social characteristics. "What do you do?" (which defines education. (b) Environmental cues are less important where there are rigid. lifestyle. It is difficult to obtain a house of a certain type without a set of particular educational. 1978). known. are partly supported by anecdotal and personal evidence that in the United States one is often asked upon meeting people.The significance of scale in this connection is beginning to receive recognition in social science (see Berreman." and the like. It does seem clear that cultural homogeneity is greater in small-scale societies and it therefore follows that the role of physical elements to locate people in social space cannot be as important as it is in larger-scale situations. 1979b). Given these conditions. This receives passing support in . cars are available on credit or can be leased-many people have expense accounts. Anecdotally. Under those conditions. the society is large and complex.184 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT tainly less important than in larger-scale. one might then conclude that such cues would be more important in the United States and similar places: Accents tend to be mainly (although not entirely) regional and do not locate people in social space. and even more difficult to "fake" location-the neighborhood or area o the city in which one lives. This may be an environmental f equivalent of the differential difficulty of hiding emotions through nonverbal expression in the nonfixed-feature realm. 1979a. or guesses. This seems clear on intuitive grounds and has already been discussed above (see also Rapoport. Some ways of communicatingstatus and hierarchy are still needed. These hypotheses. clothing is mass produced and its use is rather complex and nonsystematic. I was once told by a graduate student who had been a taxi driver in New York City that the nature of briefcases and attache cases provided a set of cues that helped taxi drivers locate people in social space and thus decide whether to pick them up or not.although it has not been much studied regarding environments. and possible income) and "Where do you live?" which helps define the rest. clothing. occupational. however. It thus follows that: (c) Environmental cues are less important when other cues and indicators are present and work well-accent. Under those conditions communication is highly predictable and cues from settings are less important. occupational status. and widely accepted social hierarchies. "old school ties. economic. one would expect that environmental indicators would become more important than elsewhere.
Lofland's hypothesis was tested. there is only one mechanism available--public settings become less public and more group specific These settings provide the contexts. and Communication 185 some of the literature dealing with social areas In cities (see Timms. 1971. Johnston. tatoos and having to do with cloth~ng. shoes. 1971b. location in physical space becomes an indicator of location in social space At smaller scales. if they can be categorized. 1975). Peach. There are also some cross-cultural regularities regarding environmental quality of residential areas-altitude. also. and many other variables. and so on that have disappeared. location in center or periphery. although briefly. with residential locations. based on apriori grounds derived from the evidence s reviewed. that is. by a student of mine (Plwoni. Recall. 1976). Hence the proliferation of group-speciflc settings that traditionally were public. maintenance. the presence of people in particular shopping. and the particular regularities in given cultures understood. views (if not of industry)." T h ~argument. that is. by seeing people frequent these settings. we can locate them in social space. this becomes easier. recreational. we have seen repeatedly the role of lawns. and hence in a likely context and situation. Lofland's deals mainly with public places The question is how o n e can locate people encountered in public places in social space. this makes things more predictable (or less unpredictable) and one is more likely to interact with such people than ~f they cannot be located in social space and remain "strangers. the known status of a named area (which may be associational rather than perceptual. body scars. and other settings also locates them in social space. people whom o n e cannot s o locate. 1 9 7 7 31-32) At the perceptual level. although not exclusively. dining. Under those conditions. kinds of houses. The argument implicit in all this is that ~f people can be located in social space. that these settings In turn communicate their character via environmental cues. 1971a. Meaning. Once the cue becomes known. He compared illustrations and descriptions the mainly of medieval public spaces and ~dentified rather wide range . In other words. decorations. hairstyles. given that one does not interact with strangers. see Rapoport. litter. both traditional and prescribed by law (recall our discussion of sumptuary laws earlier). water-edge location (if nonindustrial).Environment. receives strong support from a study by Lofland (1973) Whereas my argument has dealt mainly. Lofland argues that in traditiorlal societies there was a wide range of cues.
men's and women's tents can be found (see Cuisenier. and are usually clearly distinguished from other buildings. 1981). social status but sexual and ritual differences.That these are not confined only to preliterate culture can be seen from a number of examples from Anglo-American culture. In many of these cases. It does seem as though these places are becoming more and more specialized and group specific: Each o n e provides a set of cues that communicates meanings telling people to stay out or enter and.(or nonfixed) feature realms. 1971. to some extent. while the difference is noticeable even to the outsider.S. discouraged. height. the complex of relevant behaviors and the social interactions and communications encouraged. they tend to be primarily-although not exclusively-in the semifixed. and decoration do not indicate.1967). for example. or not present physically. . decoration. At the same time. He then examined a set of contemporay U. and involved. we find settings with sets of cues that identify appropriate behaviors in terms of the distinction between men and women (see Levin. Among Turkish nomads. most traditional environments do provide settings that are group specific and the character of which is given by physical cues that remind people of the expected behavior. In this respect. the cues that indicate the "belongingness" of either men or women may be v e y subtle-or even nonexistent. 1969c: 44. size. they a r e v e y similarto the traditional examples given above. India (Singh and Chandhoke. Location. Although the cues may be more subtle. In fact. 1970). 197910). In Africa generally. predicts the kind of behaviors to be expected and appropriate. 1966. accepted.Africa (Fernandez.in Afghanistan.Fernandez. One example is the men's sacred building in the Sepik River area of New Guinea known as the Haus Tambaran. each with their appropriate behaviors learned through enculturation generally and taught through initiation specifically. so that they act almost automatically. 1977). Note that in all these cases. and other strikingly noticeable differences clearly distinguish it from the surrounding dwellings (Rapoport. thus helping structure communication even though sex identity is easy to distinguish without the tent or house. shape. 1977).and elsewhere. men's houses are found all over New Guinea (Rapoport. Yet the distinction may be drawn too acutely and made too contrasting.186 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT of people who were present. also. public places. where height. or prevented are culture specific and can only occur if the cultural code is known.
prices. however. Their understanding depends on predictability. where men feel ill at ease (Suttles. drank in "lounges. or whatever) is used to predict fully and successfully the services. noise levels. which were further reinfoiced by the nonfixed elements. havingchalrs and tables. They have been generally described as looking like large public urinals. depends not only on enculturation. Knowing these things is important. the cues reinforce . If one is hungry. and many delicate "what-nots. Hilton. tiled. but was also indicated by the general decor. One easily and quickly adjusted one's behavior accordingly. the mixed crowd with v e y different dress codes and very different behavior and noise levels in the other. and so on. and women. carpeted. Lounges tended to be in the interior. which. know the price range. products. the tradition in certain places of displaying menus outside and allowing views into the establishment are devices used to communicate these desired meanings. The effectiveness of these-as of many other systems of cuesdepends not only on adequate redundancy (so that cues are noticed). which were much more important parts of their housesettlement system (see Rapoport. the success of chain operations is frequently a function of their great predictability. type of food. Pizza Hut. decorations-all producing a softer. noisy. The former method.Environment. 1968. and clothing in the one case. Each time a particular sign. were large. but was also indicated by the presence of cues such as lace curtains and doilies. For men there were other settings-such as taverns and pubs. Thus what was known was reinforced by physical cues-by mnemonics. the purely masculine crowd. as well as street settings. 1962). This is possibly the most important characteristic that makes chain operations successful. is more interesting theoretically. traditionally. behaviors. This was mainly known. Heritage Bank. Meaning. furniture covers." which were seen as being at odds with the "crude" nature of men. cavernous. how one needs to be dressed. in hotels the public bar was for men only. one wants to be able easily to identify a place to eat. As already suggested. roof shape. Kentucky Fried Chicken. undecorated except by beer and liquor advertisements." or at least genteel. building shape. Bars fronted the street. 1980a. In Australia. and 1982). and s o on (McDonald's. 1977. but consistency of use. stressing sports. Young and Wilmott. in turn. alone or accompanied by men. with no seating. more "feminine. and how much it will cost before o n e wants to know where to enter. image. their behavior. " This was known. and Communication 187 Thus we find in certain areas of Chicago and East London that the dwelling is very much the woman's domain.
are indicated by decorations. . and hidden rooms are based on this basic distinction (see Kamau. private. and the elements and arrangements also indicate sitting versus eating areas. Some examples have already been given. inventories of objects and their arrangements can be made. Note that. and so on 1 0 longer look like churches. In fact. are indicated by furnishings. in terms of the argument earlier on. 20 feet by 15 feet-the clear division into men's and women's domains is indicated both by consistent location within the space and by cues such as hearth and metate for women and altar for men (see Rapoport. when the lay 1 public complains that churches. used for entertaining and men. again. Private spaces are mainly bedrooms and. 1979a). One that I have observed is a change in the "floor" surface. post offices. parenthetically. An example already discussed is provided in the case of urban housing in Uganda. In a sense.Note that in all these cases. the typical tent always has the same divisions in the same order so that one knows where men. Hidden spaces-kitchens. In many traditional societies. or whatever. one of the things they are saying is that the expected behaviors are not clear. In the case of a Maya house-a very small space. with sand or other materials altering theRnatural"state of the ground. banks. face east ( = front). in restricting the range of acceptable and appropriate behaviors (see also Kottak. frequently one finds the equations men = culture and women = nature in various societies. The above discussion relates to the interaction of meaning and communication. It is of interest to note that when more permanent dwellings are first constructed. 1979). n. its amount.) and the nature of these three domains is communicated through physical cues. and also that the designers have neglected meaning-particularly users' meaning. Different bedrooms (such as the master bedroom) are indicated by the quality of furniture. They become more successful in producing behavioral invariance-that is. showers. and animals are located. and so on-which also indicate social status. Consider another-among the Bedouin. furnishings. The men's section (which is also the guest room) is further indicated by other external cues.d. and its cleanliness. women. in Israel. Here the distinctions between semipublic. and lavatories-are clearly shown by the equipment they contain. they repeat this order-the same space organization persists. the effectiveness of subtle cues depends on their consistency. Tents are also arranged in standardized ways and. Thus semipublic spaces. post offices.188 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT their predictability and hence their effectiveness.
but known. These kinds of cues generally may be very subtle yet control privacy gradients and hence communication very effect~vely. and consistent use of these devices (Rapoport. The division is indicated by location-the former being off the street. the system would not work in organizing cornmunicatlon. which indicates "guest room. At alarger scale. Other examples can be given. 1963). as well as a defined by the situation knowledge of the rules regarding behav~or and a willingness to follow these rules. for example. the traditional Russian house is commonly divided into a "clean" half. the "clean" half is also indicated by displays of the famlly's "best goods" (Dunn and Dunn. where guests are recetved. porch. Anderson and Moore. and Communication 189 communication and interaction are greatly influenced by sex dlfferences. the latter off the yard-reinforced by further stressed by a separate entrances. that is. in some cases. meanings can be comrnunicated through materials in very culture-specific ways. the people seen. whlch. as in that of an Aboriginator Navaho camp. once known. where cooking and other similar work takes place. front door. strangers. 1 9 6 9 ~ . The ash heap." "intercepts" visitors. including comparison of fence locations (Rapoport. and s o on-that indicates how far one penetrates depending on who one is. 1979a). Without all these conditions. Meaning. Such systems of cues clearly guide and influence communication patterns. in Rapoport. living room door. 1965. the furnishings. boundary at whlch one needs to wait in order to be admitted to the camp or settlement in the first place. and so on. and a "dirty" half. enable an under- . my interpretation of Harrington. with the front entrance b e ~ n g small porch. In the case of an Anglo-American house. clear hierarchies. 1977: 200). the food accompanying hospitality). All of these depend on consistency of use and of location within the tent and encampment.Environment. communication is controlled at various places. 1972) and many other cues For example. this ash heap becomes important Other cues used are the relative openness of the sections. cornmunication is controlled (see. The second additional cue for the men's/guest part of the tent used among Bedouin is a heap of ashes (from the fire used to make the inevitable tea and coffee or. where only o n e men's section serves as a guest room. there is also an invisible. and in this way controls communication (see Figure 29) In this case. particularly in cases where there are clear and unambiguous rules. homogeneous populations. there is a whole set of cues-fence. In villages or tent clusters.
This role of tombs is. less durable materials are used. for example. Among Bedouin also. . tombs of sheikhs or saints are often used to establish ownership of land (as is found. In other cases. among the Bedouin.190 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT I W O U Lhh(9 OUT ~~ pb ~ N L SJEC~~. This then indicates the relation of individuals to the group. stone or other permanent materials are only used in the dwellings replacing tents when these are built on land belonging to the tribe or subgroup of which the individual in question is a member.JCe ( y h n l l Z * q d T ~ / &~~?oPo~T Figure 29 standing of larger-scale communication patterns. For example. in Wadi Firan in the Sinai).
physical environments generally become important (Rapoport. I have previously discussed conditions under which physical cues from the environment may become more or less important. there is no interaction. if the particular form of categorization is stigmatization. and Communication 191 once again. and s o on Also. Their importance is. cooking utensils. A particular form of heightened criticality is environmental stress. interaction and communication are clearly limited in some waysome forms of interaction and communication become inappropriate. 1980c. 1973).As such it clearly structures communication. act as meeting places (shown by having cooking and dining facilities adjacent. and s o on) that reinforce tribal identity and foster interaction and communication among dispersed and nomadic groups. These meetings reaffirm these groups' membership in the tribe and their right to use its resources. among the Bedouin groups in the southern Sinai. forthcoming). once the code is known. Note that many of these cues communicate meanings in culturespecific ways in order to structure and control interaction and communication. I have argued elsewhere that under conditions of high criticality. they are also occasions for meeting friends. What they do. occupational debris. But the argument is that if there is no categorization. is to locate people in particular settings that are equivalent to portions of social space and thus define a context and a situation as we saw earlier in the case of offices. One then quickly discovers that such tombs. they categorize people. 1976: 25). By categorizing peope in this way.Environment. relatives. and a particular response is what has been . but the cues are frequently physical. the meanings can be understood easily. in effect. interaction is likely to become even less since one does not interact with strangers (Lofland. 1973). Note also that the rules are social. 1 9 7 9 c . This also applies to the role of meaning in controlling interaction and communication. and visitors from other tribes: "The holy tomb is a very precise image of territorial claims on the land and of the Bedouin's conception of territory as embodied in the group" (Marx.. form. culturally specific and neither intuitively clear nor "legible" unless one knows the code. There is one other such condition not yet discussed. however. 1 9 7 7 . These two functions of tombs or shrines of saints-of marking ownership and structuring interaction and communication-were also found among the Nubians along the Nile before their relocation in New Nubia (Fernea et al. and color (whitewash) as well as the presence of offerings. Meaning. In so doing. Some groups may even be excluded-that is. stressed through location.
they locate people in social space and. The Marae are seen as "symbols of Maoritanga (Maoriness). meeting houses. the Marae seems to be the single most important. and dining halls.192 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT called defensive structuring (Siegel. the importance of which has been little noticed by whites precisely because it is a space rather than a building or object. Among the Mayo Indians of Sonora." s o that "to be a Maori means to have a home Marae" (Austin. leading to the development of specific institutions and other forms. These crosses and the sacred paths linking them. It should be stressed that it plays a role in structuring interaction and communication in two domains-among Maori and between Maori and nowMaori.""of being a Maori. Maori are calling for the provision of Marae. which are used for periodic ritual movement. clearly influence the extent and forms of communication at the highest level of generality of group members versus non-group members. It is a spatial-symbolic realm. among them rituals. and meetings among various groups. and others. In effect. a "remnant microcosm of traditional culture" (Austin. in urban areas where they can become indicators of Maori identity and focal points. core element. cemeteries. 1977). Among the Maori in New Zealand. us versus them. see Rapoport. While these and many other semifixedand nonfixed-feature elements will all help to express and maintain ethnic identity. a spatial expression of an important set of cognitive domains. categories. Increasingly. are the strongest indicators and definers of ethnic identity among that group (Crumrine. are the house crosses that identify Mayo dwellings (as well as other crosses that mark boundaries and important sites or settings). many traditional cultural elements have become condensed or concentrated in a space. ritual meals. One could even predict that in time. that is. 1976: 238-239). 1981). in this way. with their accompanying gateways. churches. and more details. if no impediments are placed in their way by government policy. It . a number of elements are also used to define the ethnic identity of the group: the settlement pattern. Mexico. however. Consider two examples among the many available (for others. It also provides the appropriate setting for a range of critically important behaviors. Maori would tend increasingly to concentrate in specific urban neighborhoods. 1970). The key elements. and elements of the culture.One of the characteristics of this particular response is the greaterreliance on particular environmental cues that indicate identity and thus help channel communication processes. 1964. 1976). the Marae.
the most important way of locating people in social space is through where they live: their neighborhood. . in terms of pnvacy defined as the control of unwanted interaction (see Rapoport. 1974). garden. interaction was h ~ g h e in houses. address. 1973). that is. in fact.I returned to examples of residential settings (although as part of the house-settlement system). The other points all represent more lndirect effects and can be understood in terms of the distinction between wanted and unwanted interaction. with the exception of point 1. that this is a primary function of culture generally Through this distinction. In this study. I will thus conclude this argument with an example from Canada discussed in some detail. One can argue that. the second within groups. and Communication 193 has been argued. and other elements all communicate and locate people in social space. Meaning. I d o not wish to discuss the validity of r this finding or the support it might receive from other studies. At this point. interaction (that is. commun~cative) aspects of the residential units (3) the relative homogeneity or heterogeneity of the respective populations (4) the nature of the information control provided by the respective units (5) the mobility of the respective populations and the~r length of res~dence I will now interpret these findings in terms of some of our discussion. This is because it seems that in cities. and (b) several of the others depend o n the particular form of housing and its spatial organization. It will be noted that after discussing the role of public spaces (which are stressed by Lofland.all of them relate to my argument. we are dealing with a direct effect of the space organization on organization of communication. street.Environment. counterintuitively. What I wish to d o is to accept the finding. communication) was compared in detached houses and apartment buildings (Reed. culture both prevents (or limits) and encourages communication -the former among groups. O n e can further argue that (a) even the first point leads to higher probabilities of chance encounters. that is. associational and perceptual characteristics of the area. and compare the reasons given to the argument of this monograph. Five sets of reasons are given for the higher levels of interaction and communication in detached dwellings. house.The finding was that. which can be described (in somewhat modified form) as follows: ( I ) the physlcal structure or layout of the residential type (2) the symbolic (better.
and hence the location of people in social space again becomes more difficult-a problem compounded by the greater heterogeneity. This could be overcome partially if the population were highly homogeneous. unwanted information may be communicated that might be embarrassing. Since the communication of meaning through environmental and other cues is an aspect of the management of the flow of information. this information is lacking. one needs to locate them in social space. and so on. and other associational and perceptual cues already discussed allow some general inferences to be made. the manipulation of a large number of cues in the semifixed realm that communicate specific information about people-their preferences. apartments reveal "back" meanings. status. lawns. Thus it is the control over the cues that seems significant: One might almost say that while houses allow "front" meanings. In addition. As a result. personalization. (3) It is found that apartments tend to house more heterogeneous populations than d o groups of houses. (4) In apartments. are not random. deliveries. in order to interact with people. time spent on recreation-and the forms of recreation. due t o the form of the space organization (point 1)and particularly the lack of common open space. time spent on maintenance and gardening. This makes people in them not only less identifiable by physicalcues. the quality of streets. but this is where the next point comes in. colors. then it follows that one needs information about people. This further inhibits interaction. or diversity o f lifestyles. houses also allow personalization. 1977). planting. This lack of visual information about how to place people in social space is compounded by the reverse phenomenon in other sensory modalities: In apartments it is more difficult to control unwanted information through olfactory and aural channels. lifestyles. . it is more difficult to observe the comings and goings of people to specific dwellings-of visitors. which are identical and have little or no possibility of personalization. Location and the nature of the residential structure. however. These two also interact-one way of judging the homogeneity of a population is precisely through semifixed-feature elements-maintainance. that is.194 THE MEANING O F THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1976b. but also less predictable socially. There is thus difficulty in judging lifestyles. and so on-partitularly if they add up to a recognizable character. that is. Let us examine the remaining four reasons in somewhat more detail. In apartments. (2) If.
four of these five points (and many are related to the first) are due to meanings being communicated. communication-which is. and thus greater unpredictability.Environment. (5) The high rate of mobility in apartments means not only greater uncertainty about who people are. s o that meanings culturally defined as inappropriate by the receiving group are present. . mainly by semifixed and nonfixed elements. then. that is. Many of the examples of the negative identity (stigma) attributed to people via environmental cues (for example. where we came in. Generally. the definition of slums) is frequently related to frontlback reversals. of course. which then influence interaction. it also means that there 1s less opportunity both to establish informal normative structure and to maintain it by the socialization of newcomers through sanctions. Meaning. and Communication 195 we are generally discussing front rather than back behavior.
and findings. and still others that could have been used. includ~ng location of the people In social space a n d hence communlc a t ~ o n hence the importance of the built . that is. more or less routin]zed behavior. the context and the situation def~nitiono the setting. in fact. Associationat the decodlng of the meaning of elements. and to study this whole approach. the many others given. this framework begins to predict things that existing empirical studies confirm. which was. would prove even more useful. One different way of conceptualizing some of the arguments in this monograph is as follows: Perceptual * noticeabIe differences (reinforced by redundancy) that In themselves have some significance a n d meaning by drawing attention to themselves through contrast a n d through the selection of which cues are made noticeable. the mnemonic f functions of which activate subroutines for culturally appropriate. studies specifically set up to test predictions. their associations with use and behavior. is that suddenly a considerable number of things fit into place. environment and ~ t early appearance in s the development o the human species f 197 . Clearly. theories. disciplines. o n e of the objectives described in the preface. A large framework begins to emerge.CONCLUSION What seems significant about this last example. linking many apparently diverse and unrelated concepts. but were not. partly from the cultural rules associated with settings. In fact. derlved partly from consistent use.
Second. one can frequently define the group's activity systems and the systems of settings.This has to do with the relative simplicity of using the nonverbal communication model. where. As a result. the goal has been to set out this approach and framework as clearly and succinctly as possible. and so on-is. revealing unsuspected connections. in my view. both in nonverbal communication and man-environment studies. or how different fields and disciplines interrelate. They can then be provided or it can be made easy for the group to provide these for themselves. It approaches such behavior in the first instance through observation. It is also an approach that lends itself to comparative and cross-cultural approaches and that makes it easier to broaden the sample by using historical. archaeological. traditional and modern examples. the very criticism occasionally leveled against nonverbal communication research-that it lacks theory. It is thus relatively simple and straightforward t o use. once a group and its profile in terms of lifestyle and environmental quality preferences have been established. there is sufficient theory. and then analysis.198 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Clearly. It is also relatively easy to transfer the approach from purely nonfixedfeature elements to semifixed.and fixed-feature elements. is overly simple. Through observation and analysis of these settings and the behaviors occurring in them (who does what. One thus uses many small pieces of information from diverse sources to show how they interrelate. it is specific. I have left out much. First. Yet I hope the utility of the approach has been demonstrated. and including or excluding whom). and simplified considerably. is twofold. In fact. and so on that accommodate them. being based on the work of many others. recording. vernacular. One could study the percentage of settings with great predictability in either satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily communicating both the expected behavior and its permitted range or latitude. and ethnographic material. This has to do with the fact that it fits into the way of thinking described in the preface. Its method is interpretive. Its utility. has to do with all products of human culture. in some ways. the utility of this approach isgeneral. At the same time. to enable conceptual structures to develop. which is basically humanistic. when. Thus one can build frameworks and conceptual models that seem valid cross-culturally and historically and thus help relate primitive. an advantage. This approach. and high-style environments. domains. . the be relevant cues can q ~ c k l y discovered and understood. For example.
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I summarize and further develop an argument. though it was completed in 1980. This also serves to update the bibliography with a list of new references. In it I refer only briefly . Second. that would suggest that the basic argument has stood up. published in a chapter in 1988. expand. and in my thinking since that time. albeit in a very preliminary and brief form. It also seemed sensible to d o so by means of an epilogue so that the book could be brought up to date without rewriting it. two suggestions that I made almost offhandedly in the original book and that I did not pursue at the time. Third. and even strengthen the overall argument of the book. In connection with its reissue it seemed sensible briefly to review the developments in the literature. found at the end of the Epilogue. This offered not only practical but also conceptual advantages: If it proved possible to add an epilogue without rewriting the book. which qualifies and partly modifies some of the argument in Chapter 2. These concern possible general mechanisms. complement. I refer to some more recent work on meaning that seems generally to support. A change in the argument in Chapter 2 The change in Chapter 2 is best seen in the wider context of the possible approaches discussed in that chapter. This epilogue is therefore limited to three principal themes. I elaborate. Space limitations meant that I had to be selective. which make more plausible the suggested processes whereby cues in settings guide behavior and whereby global affective responses to environments are primary. First.EPILOGUE This book was originally published at the end of 1982. in other relevant fields. and it has in fact proved possible to d o so. proposed in other fields.
1988). I identify and discuss the three approaches mentioned above: semiotic/linguistic. may communicate several distinct types of meaning. 1982. Using the distinction (p.. led me to a rather significant revision (Rapoport. and the like). and that semiotics largely deals only with syntactics. the meaning of elements depends on contexts (both cultural and of other elements) and contrasts and noticeable differences among elements. 38) between syntactics. the use of semantic differentials. stimulated by some questions raised by a student. Nasar. these can be "claimed" by the nonverbal communication (NVC) approach. The first proposes that the term "meaning" is too global. and as I argue throughout this book. and material culture generally. one needs t o distinguish among types or levels of meaning. 35-36). and context. the Hymes (1964) model of communication (p. the second change reconsiders the evaluation of symbolic approaches presented on pages 43-48 of this book. Almost everyone uses it-or claims to-pays lip service to it. and Buchan. one can argue that the "eclectic" approach and NVC essentially address pragmatics (and possibly some semantics). Hucek. The description and criticism of semiotics. 5 2 above) can be reduced to a minimal set that all sound approaches to meaning.220 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT to method-driven studies of meaning (e.' still seem valid as written. and nonverbal communication. Bonta. channel. 1985). and that this not only does not weaken the argument or findings but in fact strengthens them. and it has become almost synonymous with the study of meaning in the built environment. and puts even nonsemiotic work in a semiotic framework or "decorates" the work with references to semiotics. 1975. Following the brief mention of method-driven approaches. that symbolic approaches essentially deal with semantics. Krampen. Of course. Given that. In the text I refer to examples (e. personal constructs. Further consideration of the latter two. 1979) and suggest that in them references to semiotics can be eliminated. which have no strong conceptual or theoretical bases (pp. 1979. First. Context is critical. Because they are eclectic and fairly straightforward in approach. for example. even though they never use or even refer to it (e. Two things are involved. It follows that built environments.. and pragmatics. semiotics is even more dominant. Lindsey. share: sender. symbolic.. Moreover. This also applies. both NVC and symbolic approaches address structure. which was originally presented at a semiotics confer- . receiver.g. however identified.g. 1983. Lee. 1988. 1989).g. to one study among others that 1 discuss below (Duncan. and the linguistic approach from which it derives. semantics.
This is because. cosmologies. 1. philosophical systems. the domain of this book. In fact. 2. At best this approach is stagnating. "2 In retrospect. the latent rather than the instrumental aspects of activities. crossed out every mention of semiotics and refer to and use the paper frequently. I argued (on p. (3) "Low-level" everyday and instrumental meanings: mnemonic cues for identifying uses for which settings are intended and hence the social situations. 1982). status. seating arrangements. and this still seems to be the case (although work is certainly being done and published). making co-action p~ssible. power. may represent a different type of meaning that some built environments may communicate. and the like. worldviews. 1977: 37. as argued in the book. however. however. which need to be clearly distinguished. Symbolism. They are: (1) "High-level" meanings related to. behavior. then. These seem to communicate meaning at three distinct levels. it seems that one is typically dealing with several distinct levels of meaning. wealth. Fig. 1986). third. cultural schemata. Second. 43-48) may need to be qualified in one sense. 37) that there had been no advance between 1969 and 1980. see Rapoport. and the sacred. The term "symbolic" refers. privacy. for example.13. and other information which enables users to behave and act appropriately and predictably. those communicating identity. it seems essentially unusable and is almost impossible to understand. 3). in fact. not so much to an approach as to a distinct type or level of meaning.~ . Such meanings are most usefully studied using NVC approaches (particularly because the more general problems with the study of symbols also seem valid). in press b: Figs. s o that "meaning" is too global a term regarding built environments and material culture generally. and Rapoport. the criticism of the symbolic approach (pp. and settings. (2) "Middle-level" meanings.movement and way-finding. in fact. although they are ideal types structuring a continuum (for analogous cases. accessibility. and so on-that is. penetration gradients. expected behavior. it seems to be an exemplar of what Lakatos (1971: 100)calls a "degenerating research program. although it is indeed not useful for understanding users' meanings in everyday environments. I still do not know of any good empirical or other study that really uses semiotics to study built environments (but see Gottdiener and Lagopoulos. and it may be most relevant regarding those other types of meaning in certain environments.ence and which contains quite unnecessary references to semiotics (see also Lang. In my copy I have.
need to understand low-level meanings in order to behave appropriately and to co-act. symbolism. and the majority "not in the know". preliterate groups. symbolic meanings may be present. be discussed. although unfortunately it does not explicitly distinguish between them. in which high-level meanings can be expected to be at their maximum. However. however. although as I will argue later. however. What I call symbolic approaches may.) It follows that no matter what high-level. whereas I propose three levels of meaning. he restricts "meaning" to the ideo-technic. 19-20). pp. and ideo-technic (ideology. and no matter how important (or unimportant) middle-level meaning may be. 1977. The first is that typically in any given case only a few people know the high-level meanings even in traditional contexts. and many and varied examples can be given of how the same buildings or other settings may communicate all.). visitors. and how important they may be. while the other two levels tend to be much more variable. etc. and symbolic object (p. what they are and how they are communicated. There is also a suggestive and interesting link to Binford's discussion in a number of publications. the first in 1962. There seem to be suggestive links between these levels of meaning and Gibson's (1968) hierarchy ranging from the concrete object through the use object. Nonverbal models are most useful for the study of these meanings. socio-technic (use in a social rather than a technical sense). I use a number of examples of religious buildings. and the general approach advocated in this book may still be quite relevant. however. or-even just one of these meanings. The reverse is not the case: high-level meanings d o not need to be known for settings to work. these still need to be relatively straightforward. 1988). they may need other approaches. (To make the point. of three levels of function: technomic (instrumental or technical use). readers are referred to the chapter in question.4 This point can be elaborated. which also provides relevant references (Rapoport. Two conclusions should.222 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT This book is concerned primarily with (2)and ( 3 ) . and how useful this distinction among levels is likely to be. as this . The second point concerns the relationships among levels of meanings. value object. It follows that low-level meanings are always present-they are the one constant. refer to high-level meanings. esp. In some cases-many small-scale. all need to know how to behave or act. All. 15above and Rapoport. low-level meanings must be present if the environment is to work for users. two. for example-middle-level meanings may be relatively unimportant.
in order clearly to understand the relation between built environments and human behavior over the full range of environments. 149-152 above.g. and the like through environmental cues may become more important. 1977). In most . prediction). 1977). communicating status. including semifixed and nonfixed elements) one needs to assume that all three levels may be present. one must not prejudge which of the three levels of meaning will be present. 183-193 above). to "predict" their relative importance. all three levels of meaning need to be considered.e. they are complementary rather than conflicting or competing. e. In others.. as already suggested. Since people are not known. for example (Goody. everyday instrumental meanings are always present in any built environment.Epilogue 223 book suggests. studied.and middle-level meanings also gain relative prominence if highlevel meanings become less important. or what has been called World Three (Popper. More generally. archaeologists. low-level. and heterogeneity of the system. and anthropologists-high-level meanings can b e expected to b e important or significant. 1972)-high-level meanings in the built environment may become less important. as are the likely courses of change (i. although the cues may be very subtle (see. In studying any built environment (in the broad sense used in this book. This question of the possibly greatly reduced importance of highlevel syrnbolic meanings in present-day environments is briefly discussed below. Rapoport. only low-level and high-level meanings may b e present. crossculturally and historically. the significant point is that it becomes relatively easy to begin to think of which meanings are likely to be important in which cases. identity. In starting out to study an example of that component of material culture that is the built environment. Low-level meanings may also gain in importance because behavior is less routinized and because cues in complex systems with more heterogeneous populations require higher redundancy in order to remind people how to behave (see pp. Also to reiterate. complexity. and understood. Also. In any given case it may even be possible.. one might hypothesize more generally that as other symbolic systems become more widely available-writing. pp. even if hypotheses are made. For example. and social hierarchies are more fluid.e. middle-level meanings often tend to increase in importance in present-day environments due to the scale. only low-level meanings may be present.. Low. In most traditional environments-those studied by historians. which are present and how important these are become empirical questions. i. cf.
or at least relatively unimportant. high-level meanings are generally absent. I would suggest. at the moment I still believe that the decline of high-level meanings in the United States (and more generally with "modernization") is real. ideal landscapes-those of the 19th and 20th centuries. equality. in any case. to use it. Moreover. in press b). One would alsmxpect cross-cultural variability.In my view. wealth." although expressed with very high levels of redundancy. although there is an immediate problem with such a "flexible" definition and use of a concept. in time.Their presence or absence and their relative importance could be profiled. middle-level meanings tend to be extremely important and prominent. 1981: 38). If a concept can acquire ever new and different content. although its constituent elements certainly need to be broadened. Jackson (1984) compares two U. one might pursue. arguing that cosmological structures are still present in contemporary environments (Doxtater 1981). In fact. health. for example-as I suggest. Also. Thus the three levels of meaning can vary independently of one another (or partly SO). It seems clear from his analysis that the change is essentially . and low-level meanings are "normal. Three students in a session of the doctoral proseminar at which I talked about this topic recently proposed an alternative hypothesis-that rather than highlevel meanings disappearing or becoming unimportant in contemporary situations-in the United States. A contrary view has been put forward. power. high-level meanings are likely to be absent. worldviews.S. For example. and the nature of social units and their values (Doxtater. if not impossible. it becomes difficult. philosophical systems. under that hypothesis one could argue that status. in press d). are replaced by the importance of the individual. the types of high-level meanings I described earlier-cosmologies. and the like. It may thus be preferable to keep my original definition of high-level meanings. This is how I interpret two recent studies. cultural schemata. Rapoport. 1978: 36. mastery over nature (or partnership with it). one will not be dealing with a monothetic set but rather with a polythetic set-only some of the multiple attributes need be represented in any given case (Clarke. For example. This is an intriguing suggestion that. comfort. however. and the like are some of the new high-level meanings rather than what I call middle-level meanings. individual or group identity (see Rapoport. the sacred. I hypothesize that in the contemporary United States. the examples he gives are in fact exemplars of middle-level meanings. status. it is their content that changes. such as identity. and so on.224 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT present-day environments.
This can admittedly be interpreted in terms of the alternative hypothesis. the idea of levels of meanings remains. which are clearly absent5 It would clearly be worthwhile to test these two alternative hypotheses. middle-level meanings (see Rapoport. The whole analysis. I also interpret as the loss of high-level meanings a recent study of housing in Singapore in relation to the religious practices of three groups: Chinese. however. as I suggested.S city council chambers. Review of some more recent work The first and most important point is that further work seems not simply to support but to strengthen the centrality of meaning in environment-behavior relations as a most important mechanism linking people and environments. such as cues about how to behave. 1985b). indeed. with which this book is concerned. this approach is not modified in any way but rather supported and confirmed by more recent work. high-level meanings in favor of low-level meanings (Goodsell. 1984: 20). This symbolic content is replaced by what I would call low-level meanings. cultural landscape. of which the "highest" is an "agreeable environmental experience" (Jackson. and Hindu Indians (Chua. important and useful. It is. Since. Over time there has been a clear loss of symbolic. for example. as well as an actual increase in. It seems clearer than ever that. crossings. not least in generating hypotheses to b e tested. a most important function of housing.S. and so forth) or political (for public space or country courthouses). 1988). whether sacred (for parks. as a new set of high-level meanings-democracy and egalitarianism. roads. 1985a. as in suburbia and in office environments. rather than high-level philosophical or cosmological meanings. I have not yet discussed the third approach. low-level meanings and.Epilogue 225 one of progressive loss of symbolic content. it will be discussed in the next section. however. I believe. A similar interpretation also seems to apply to a more detailed study of political meaning involving an analysis of 75 U. Malays. meaning is not something additional to "function" but is pos- . Though the study clearly shows that meaning is. 1988). generally or in any given case. involving many other types of settings in the U. nonverbal communication. It is also the major change in this book. Whichever is correct. can also be interpreted as a reduction in high-level meanings and concomitant greater emphasis on. these seem to be low-level meanings.
study meaning in terms of pragmatics and in straightforward ways. 1984. 1987. Recall also that in the text I use a variety of findings from some studies claiming allegiance to semiotics and from quite a few coming from the symbolic tradition. This is not surprising. 1978) can all be incorporated into the corpus . Lindsey. All the material reviewed in this section needs to be seen in this light. from which this limited review draws follows semiotic.g.studies in archaeology. it is culture specific. like all environment-behavior relations. In that sense my approach in this book. within general patterns. The new work. One point that is only implicit in the text needs to be made explicit. Another of my main points that receives support is the centrality of culture. Marcus. Duncan.g. Pieper. 1987. given the discussion in the first section of this epilogue. Carrasco. Broda. 1976. symbolic. Broda.Hockings.226 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT sibly the most important function. is eclectic. it generally does not deal with work in semiotics. 1986. for one thing. see Rapoport. Lewis-Williams. 1981. includes subjective experience. in press a ) or those still in existence.g. 1987. this has been discussed above. as in my work generally. either in the past (e. The review is neither exhaustive nor systematic. 1980. some of which use NVC approaches and some. 1982. which continues-and continues to be useful in the sense that it can be used in conjunction with both eclectic work and work based on NVC. even semiotics. I briefly consider some studies of symbolism. Vinnicombe. the fact that meaning must be studied within its appropriate cultural context and that. eclectic studies. 1987a. Nasar. the label means less than the content. or unusable. it is only usefully studied or considered if it can be adequately generalized to groups. Lang. This certainly applies to work on symbolism. I use whatever works and makes sense. 1976. Such studies (e. 1988). Although meaning. while they d o not explicitly fit the latter. I only draw the line at work I find wrong. and nonverbal approaches to the study of meaning and also includes method-driven. 1985. Purely individual or idiosyncratic associations or meanings are of interest only to the individuals concerned and are not part of the domain of EBS and research on it. In both the positive and negative senses... and Buchan. Isbell. Nor is it surprising that most of it does not seem to be applied to contemporary everyday settings6 but to traditional societies. They can therefore be incorporated into my approach even when they formally claim allegiance to other approaches. and Matos. This is also the case in this section (e.. and earlier work which I only discovered since the completion of this book. incomprehensible. 1983. Despres. Carrasco. and Matos. Cherulnik and Wilderman.
Such continuity also emerges from a similar analysis of the Maya (Marcus. that study also again illustrates the difference between insiders and outsiders (e. Nemeth 1987 analyzes a cultural landscape that reflects neo-Confucian ideology and celestial prototypes not only on Cheju Island. One also finds differences in the perceived residential quality of neighborhoods between the United States and Saudi Arabia (Zube et a]. 1969. Similarly. This becomes clear from a special issue on home interiors in Europe in Environment and Behavior (1987)." "expressions of" and the like-and then understood in an NVC framework. prototype. 1982) and also with discussions of the social meaning of dwellings (and what I would argue is the need to consider the larger system of settings) in Longana. or a structuralist analysis of Maori art (Hanson. Vanuatu.g. in this case of the urban landscape of Kandy (Sri L. village. with "symbolic aesthetics" (Lang. That cosmic vision is then analyzed and shown to be central to the Aztec world generally. 1984). 1987) the temple is considered as ritual space embodying a cosmic vision (a typical high-level symbolic meaning). 1985a. in the South Pacific (Rodman. such as "cues. 1976) which shows how a single schema seems to underlie. This even applies to studies based on approaches even more "remote"--e. The same neo-Confucian model. but also in the past throughout medieval China and Korea. in which one finds differences between the United States and Western Europe generally and between France and Italy. and can be used to understand. 1985). whatever the theoretical rationale.g.Epilogue 227 of work on meaning with which this book is concerned. and Ingham. These studies also reemphasize the importance of the cultural context in understanding the various cues that are used. city. 1983).. This is the case. 1971). see Duncan. 1977). textual analysis. which has now been studied empirically (e. and Matos.g. 1989). and tomb. Korea (the locale of the study). again reinforcing points made in this book (see also Wood... town. Brower. or schema was applied to the region. Carrasco. and it is even possible.anka. post facto. to distinguish among the levels of meaning discussed earlier. Moreover. from the state or realm to the building. 1985b). In most cases the approach is very straightforward and direct. In a study of the Great Temple of Tenochtitl6n (Broda. Nemeth's study also confirms that the settings incorporating this schema acted as a mnemonic-a central point of this book." "indicators. The . the term "symbol" can often easily be replaced by other terms.. farmstead. for example. Rapoport. environments on many scales. also as already mentioned both in the book and the epilogue.
1988). In the case of nonverbal communication. respectively. two doctoral students have done literature reviews as part of independent studies (Despres. 1988). 1983). This body of research is very active indeed and is growing. 1981. For example. She further concludes that none of the studies deals specifically with environments and objects (semifixed elements). Katz and Katz. and even textbooks (e. and religious meanings involved are examples of high-level meanings and reinforce the question I raised about how many users knew this esoteric material (Rapoport. None of these studies discuss low-level meanings.g. and object displays only 4 percent. explicit references to environments and physical settings comprise only 7 percent. syntheses.g. she also finds that among the 3 6 dissertations. with its pattern of the Puma on the urban scale and a 20th-century ethnographic example). It is also significant that this work has now reached daily newspapers (e.. philosophical. Ridgeway et al. it ignores the mutual relationship between people and settings as a form of NVC. including a textbook aimed at high . Having identified the schema. 1986). Wolfgang. Despres (1987b) concludes that NVC was a prolific area of research in the decade 1977 to 1986.. Ekman and his group (whom I discuss on pp.g. and the point is also made that symbols (meanings) are context specific. Devlin (1988) identifies 13 new books and papers (e. 1989b). 1983. 19781.228 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT metaphysical. 1988). Isbell finds it in two prehistoric ceremonial centers 2500 and 3000 years before Cuzco and the ethnographic example. 1983. Flannery and Marcus. In my terms this work is still largely restricted to non-fixed elements-communication among people. 1983. Blanck et al. 1984. It begins with more recent cases (e. 16th-century Cuzco.g. and 10lff. I suspect very few did. Wiemann and Harrison. Devlin. of the subject matter. While the work includes literature reviews. not in space (as in the previous studies) but over time. Isbell's study emphasizes the great continuity of these cosmological schemata. empirical and methodological work. Although the approach is structuralist. Isbell identifies the symbols in straightforward and direct ways (cf. 1987b..) have published a great deal since 1981. in press a)... Neither does a study of prehistoric ceremonial centers in the Andes (Isbell. 1985. 97ff. Kendon. where the concern is with cosmology (a typical high-level meaning). While she is able to identify 1 9 books and 36 doctoral dissertations which have some potential relevance for the study of environmental meaning. mainly on facial expressions (see Bull and Rumsey. which are generally neglected or ignored. Rapoport. Poyatos.. Goleman.
g. Scherer and Ekman. they can be read together-and their findings can fit into an NVC framework. which explicitly takes a semiotic approach (Duncan. Lindsey. furnishings. Ames. One study of dwellings in Vancouver.. Goodsell. pp 48ff. in which my chapter is the only one dealing with material culture). 1981.. however.g.. 1986. material culture is either ignored or explicitly rejected. 50).A study of clothing (Wobst. Csikszentmihalyi and RochbergHalton. and . it supports my more general theoretical argument for the importance of redundancy (see Robinson et al.. Ames.g. Some of this work uses the term "symbols" but. directly or indirectly. 1982). To give just one example.Epilogue 229 school teachers (Vargus.e. Moreover. Hucek. it seems clear that there is much research in many areas of NVC but little or nothing on the built environment (see Poyatos. Ames.. Some studies have been influenced. The first is that semifixed elements d o indeed seem to be the most important in communicating meaning both inside the dwelling (e. 1985). 1988. 1980). and serves to support two of my major points. 1984). 1977.g. Most studies. that cultural contexts are critical. makes a number of useful points. 63-64 of the text) not only puts it into a broad anthropological context and relates it to a large new body of work but also confirms its importance and that of other semifixed element:. and Buchan. 1980. and that semifixed elements and their arrangements are dominant (i. 1986)-a most significant development.. cf. landscaping. Farbstein and Kantrowitz.. that the relationships are at least as important as the elements). which is discussed on pp. as it was when this book was written (e. She also identifies 12 doctoral dissertations on NVC during 1986 and 1987. by my work (e. Given that these two reviews are highly selective.g... esp. She also reanalyzes some of Despres' entries (e. 1988). There is also work on semifixed elements of all kinds (e. 1978. The built environment is still being neglected. 1983). with very few exceptions (e.. furnishings and decorations) and outside (landscaping and outdoor objects). like some described in the text. this is clear from a special issue of Environment and Behavior in 1987 on home interiors in Europe which implicitly also makes another important point: Although the preface and the six papers take different approaches to the topic. fits perfectly into my model and can be reworded in the way suggested (e..g. The second is that people are indeed able very easily to understand meanings communicated by dwellings.g. p. do not explicitly use NVC but confirm many of the points made in this book: that settings communicate. 1978). Again.
these two studies implicitly seem to contradict the argument (see Bonta. Rapoport. 1987. moreover. Very high levels of agreement (between 4 8 and 5 6 percent) were also found in a study of how dwellings communicate identity (Sadalla et al. Given the very high levels of agreement. three distinct groups were identified for whom dwellings had different overall meanings. The levels of agreement found (between 5 9 and 86 percent. and Perinbanayagam. 59-63). The former finds that exteriors elicit more agreement because it is more important to communicate meanings to outsiders than to those invited inside. semifixed elements. cited in the text). in my discussion on pp. and hence distinctiveness was achieved through objects. 1975) that environments d o not communicate meanings but rather that people project meanings onto them. 1985. 1972: 123. 1987) disagree about whether exteriors or interiors show greater agreement. cf. Further research to clarify this disagreement would be useful. These distinguish among dwellings as stages for social performance. they greatly constrain possible meanings (see Wollheim. that if they do so successfully. that is. 1988). Sadalla et al. they seem to support the argument in this book that environments and settings d o communicate meanings and.. They also agree about the greater importance of semifixed elements vis-2-vis fixed features. ventilation. Duncan. depending on cues and location) are extremely high-much higher than I would have expected.230 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT the like. communicate more effectively. 1974. The two studies (Duncan. 1981. 1981).Because this is a gentrifying neighborhood. and air conditioning. The latter finds that interiors elicit more agreement because one has more control there. furnishings. They may also be artifacts of the methods used. and as providing an atmosphere of private family life and domesticity. In spite of the emphasis on semifixed elements. These become styles and seem to correspond to what Jopling (1974. The reasons for this difference are unclear but may include the type of area studied or the culture (one study is from Canada. who already know one. that is. This is also the case with a study of Lincoln Park in Chicago (Suchar and Rotenberg. these studies and . and Buchan. in the case of Puerto Ricans in Boston. the other from the United States). and at the levels of satisfaction with physical comfort aimed for in the design of heating. as settings for expressing unique individuality. On the other hand. and landscaping communicate identity and other meanings.. Lindsey. ' Both studies agree that attributes of dwellings. calls an aesthetic complex.
Ohio. which are interpreted differently according to the different styles of dwellings." it illustrates my argument. the original meaning of the various cues persists. moreover. 1989). All studies of this type (see Nasar. This study and those by Nasar (1988. 1987a). while this is discussed in terms of "symbolic representation. well-being. 1989)indicate either liked or disliked environments on the basis of status. Its components (Rapoport. architects' judgments are very different from nonarchitects'. 1982. judgments vary among groups. perceived safety.Epilogue 231 others begin to consider fixed-feature elements (see Ostrowetsky and Bordreuil. 1989) all refer to "symbols" where I refer to cues. 1985a. Nasar. then. 1988. The emphasis on fixed-feature elements is also found in other studies (see Groat. 1980. the likely temporal sequence that I discuss in the book seems to be starting. in the Nasar studies. at least in the United States and in Anglo-American culture more generally. and leadership qualities of the presumed residents. In other words. and the sequence of the application of NVC approaches seems to be the one predicted: from nonfixed to semifixed and eventually to fixed-feature elements. which is couched in terms of NVC and cues. among them size. they also strongly suggest that what is often called the "aesthetic quality" of environments is in fact much more an aspect of meaning. not only the wealth and status but also. 1983) not only seem to be very consistent about the positive and negative qualities of cues. In all these studies one finds an extension from semifixed elements to fixed-feature elements in terms of the meanings of various dwelling styles. which discusses the meaning of particular regional house styles in France [cf. the desirability. and materials (see Barnett. The study by Cherulnik and Wilderman (1986) emphasizes what I would now identify as middle-level meanings and finds that the origi nal fixed-feature elements still elicit judgments consistent with the original owners' socioeconomic status. the study cites this book. This is also the case with a study that confirms my argument on page 7 6 on the meaning of the neo-Quebecois style in Quebec (Despres. and as I argued. Cherulnik and Wilderman. in press el). and so on. the cues that com- . Rapoport. Parenthetically. ornateness. because they discuss what I would regard as middle-level meanings. 1975). 1986. The different styles are also ranked differently in terms of preference. perceived friendliness. The attributes of the environment are. and while there seems to be no difference between Los Angeles and Columbus. There is also another extension of the domain to be discussed later: from domestic: settings to other building types. that is.
also emphasize the importance of redundancy for settings to communicate appropriate meanings. " Many of the more specific comments are clearly congruent with my discussion and illustrations in the book (e. 1984. it is significant that recommended changes in housing projects often seem to involve changing those elements that have negative meanings to elements that have positive meanings. This is much the case with Lucien Kroll's work at Perseigne d'Alenqon in . many seem clearly meant to change those qualities of the project that communicate negative meanings (including the institutional character discussed above. This is. This is clearly the case in a study of the residential aspects of the normalization of mentally retarded people (Robinson et al. Robinson et al. The various architectural elements and whether they are liked or work are to be understood in terms of their meanings.g. of course. an aspect of my distinction between perceptual and associational aspects: this distinction has been used by others. although using the concept of "symbols" ("symbolic aesthetics") and a semiotic approach (Lang. The centrality of the meaning of architectural and other environmental elements usually considered in aesthetic rather than associational terms. 14-18).. In this case one finds a complete reversal in the interpretation of the look of the project. it can also. 1984). 1984)." "concentration camp." The feel of the project also elicits negative f emotional terms from 53 percent o the residents: "depressing. see Robinson et al. be extended from "architecture" to semifixed elements and material culture generally and hence to the cultural landscape. Here again the central substantive point and the content can be expressed easily in an NVC framework without difficulty or loss. This is much as suggested in this book (on the basis of Davis and Roizen's 1970 study). become very clear in a study of Maiden Lane.. 1988). More generally. and similar points made... " "battery farm. a problem housing estate in London (Hunt Thompson Associates. Among them are "prison. 1982). they have to do with meaning. that is.232 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT municate such meanings to users. pp. and the consequent differences between designers and users. of course. Among the changes recommended. " and "mental institution." "closed in." "claustrophobic. attributes with positive meanings are associated with positive images of domesticity ("homelike"). Attributes with negative meanings are associated with the negative image of institutionality. The features praised by architects and the architectural press are described by 71 percent of the residents in extremely negative terms-and these are associational.
educational. 1977). fences are part of this particular repertoire. repertoires. for example. . Although it does not adopt an NVC approach. This includes property enclosure. and religious buildings. and yard shrines. materials. as discussed in the text. and color. to mention just two. Color has recently received attention. striking recent exam A ple of this is the new church at Yamoussoukro. 1981). the important point seems to be that the church is the world's largest and tallest-significantly larger and taller than St. Color has also been shown to communicate ethnic identity (in this case. and others. In my terms. scale. hotels and motels. Peter's in Rome. height are emphasized. restaurants. the emphasis is on dwellings and urban areas. It is also significant in that i t concentrates on nondomestic settings (banks. even to communicate levels of acculturation to the United States (Arreola. These include. 1989). or system. savings and loan associ ations. 1984). which I discuss on pages 111-114. being a major noticeable difference (Rapoport. 1988). 1981)as it is with a project in Boston (Deitz. and above all. size. Thus the study of meaning is being extended to new types of environments While this book does discuss offices. exterior house color. funeral homes. the book discusses a number of elements of the repertoire or palette that can be. that of Mexican Americans) and through longitudinal studies. identify the various attributes or elements that communicate meaning. among other elements. All the studies cited. or have been. In fact. is clearly a major attri bute that communicates meaning very effectively. 1984). In connection with religious buildings.Epilogue 233 France (Revuede /'habitat social. Ivory Coast (Brooke. furnishings. and government institutions. restaurants. of elements is involved in communicating Mexican-American identity--what is called a housescape (Arreola. churches. o palettes of elements. style. public. used. and a range of shops) Other studies have investigated the meanings communicated by the style of suburban office buildings (Nasar and Kang. 1988). landscaping and plant materials. Thus one study of color (Foote. in which size. 1983) implicitly discusses redundancy and emphasizes corn munication. Also. it is the most recent evolution of a historic landscape that has links to pre-Columbian Mexico and to Spain. eventually it becomes apparent that a whole set. The latter. ornateness. it can easily fit into the framework of this book. Thus fences and fence varieties can also be used as indicators of the Mexican-American identity of residents (Arreola. one of these is height (see pp. 107-1 11). In effect they are engaged in w the development of what in this book I call lexicons.
Two other points in that study further strengthen my argument. This recently led to legal action in Britain. 1 9 in text). supports my argument in the first section of this epilogue. and electricity. and hence that redundancy is most important and both reinforces and makes more precise the meanings communicated. like other attributes or cues.. the removal of "old-fashioned" features. of course. especially in more recent environments. if "inappropriate. and the like to degree of modernization. discussed briefly on page 83 of this book. 142-144) and has been greatly developed since then in Rapoport. 1985) found that meaning was a most important aspect of the built environment and that status was the most important meaning. and the introduction of furniture and appliances (i. That paper also further develops. kind of wall cavities and protrusions. In addition. however. degree of elaborateness. 1985) to be important indicators of status.. First.g.e. it becomes clear that. the elements communicating status change over time-from type of dwelling. This tends to support my argument about the importance of cultural context and great cultural and group specificity. and it is clearly both possible and essential to begin to develop lexicons or repertoires of such indicators. 1977) and already mentioned earlier in this epilogue: that there . decoration. All these elements. 130 and Fig." consent may be refused (Practice. that is. so that a given color can be conforming or nonconforming. subtle distinctions became more important within each group. where bright colors on listed buildings (such as the Royal Crescent in Bath) have been held by the courts to be "development". The role played by modern elements in a situation like this and in developing countries generally is a point made in this book (e. in a major way. where minute details were noticed. the use of modern materials such as cement and paint. This.234 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT this once again emphasizes the importance of redundancy. 1983. Rapoport. semifixed elements) that are absent and hence not very important in traditional dwellings (see Rapoport. depending on context. are shown (by Pavlides. It also supports a point made implicitly in this book and explicitly elsewhere (e.g. sets of elements are consistent. piped water. in press d). is contextual (see p. with a single exception. size of house and of spaces. Moreover. Second. 1983: 3). One of the first longitudinal studies of vernacular design (in Greece.. subgroups knew the house features in their own category best. the notion of the culture core. Pavlides. as I suggest more generally. the meaning of fences. This also applies to color. This has proved to be of great importance in studying and understanding meaning in the situations of rapid culture change characteristic of developing countries. General status or rank could be determined broadly by everyone. pp.
88-89) that it be extended to include the cultural landscape as an expression of the system of settings in which systems of activities take place. and hence any generalizations more valid. Rapoport. in press c. I myself have considerably expanded two other points made in this book. I further developed this in the chapter dealing with levels of meaning (Rapoport. 1989).. Ethnoarchaeology is one such attempt. and most recently. As part of the latter I had begun to use archaeological evidence and material in this book. all cultures. Rapoport. especially Chapter 5). I not only extended it to cover the system of settings/cultural landscapes but also to include all types of environments. the second concerns a body of evidence and examples. The second reason concerns the relation between the study of meaning and archaeology. I also briefly suggested (pp. 1983. showing its importance generally and demonstrating how its various components act together to communicate various meanings (e. and this helps to make the evidence broader and more diverse. including semifixed feature elements and also people. in press e ) . Hunt Thompson Associates.g. in press a. 1988). As part of my redefinition of the domain of EBS. . As part of my argument for broadening the definition of the built environment as a subset of material culture. If meanings can be identified in archaeological material. 1982. then one can have greater confidence in the approach. 1988. 19621). 1986a. in press c). 1987. Lee. 1982. when so little is left. it follows that there are differences between designers and the lay public (e. This I have since greatly elaborated. There are two reasons for using this evidence. 1985a. if environmentbehavior studies and archaeology can be used together. The first is that it greatly expands the time depth of the evidence one can use. Since designers are the quintessential outsiders.Epilogue 235 are differences between insiders and outsiders (e. 1984. one's analysis and proposals become much more convincing if plausible general mechanisms can be identified or proposed. Conversely. Some preliminary ideas on mechanisms In dealing with the scientific understanding and explanation of any phenomenon. Groat. they can help to interpret archaeological data in terms of meaning (their ideotechnic function [Binford.g. which unfortunately has had little interaction with EBS (Kent.g. The first is conceptual. 1988). the full time span. in press a . This is also my reading of a number of the studies reviewed in this epilogue... and it plays a major role in a forthcoming book on the relation between EBS and historical data (Rapoport. Brower.
interdisciplinary. this in itself is most important and promising. Kruse. It also means that a whole new large body of work-conceptual. The major process proposed in this book is that if cues in settings are noticed and understood. and appropriate action is amazingly often the result. and so on. 1986b). However. Should these suggested mechanisms be confirmed. This is not surprising. 1987.. otherwise puzzling occurrences. it is broadly similar in emphasizing the link with Barker's concept of behavior settings. and appropriate (i. . Some suggestions about a possible mechanism come from work in artificial intelligence and cognitive science-a large.' While rather different in detail and not drawing the interpretation I do. as I d o on page 85 of this book.236 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT This is because they can help to explain how any suggested processes work. The purpose of this discussion is merely to point out the existence of this congruence with work in cognitive science and hence of a possible mechanism. and empirical-becomes potentially relevant. and much evidence is adduced to suggest that it is very likely and. It is also encouraging that after developing this material my attention was drawn to some work from Germany (Kaminsky. and the identification of possible mechanisms becomes a most important task.e. theoretical. Thus any findings bearing on mechanisms have major implications. a major function of culture is to routinize behavior. The coincidence and overlap is. as it deserves to be. there are major pressures to conform. intriguing and promising. it would make my proposed process that much more likely and convincing. no mechanism was identified that might make this process work. the social situation appropriate to that setting is identified. Clearly this will be a very brief and preliminary discussion. This process is elaborated in the text. While settings d o not determine appropriate behavior. the setting is seen as acting as a mnemonic activating all this culturally acquired knowledge. after all. some mechanisms have been proposed in different connections which work in ways analogous to what is proposed in this book. at the very least. 1988). In effect a repertoire of appropriate behaviors is retrieved from storage. making co-action possible. without the topic being developed to any significant extent. reserving cognitive channel capacity for more important matters (see Rapoport. expected or congruent) behavior is brought to attention and elicited. increasingly sophisticated. probable: it seems to be the best explanation of a great variety of findings. and rapidly growing field. In it. indeed.
of which they are a specific type (Brewer and Nakamura. as a blueprint or design for life. 1977. The papers by Minsky. and references in it) Schemata are very important in cognitive anthropology and in anthropology more generally if one sees culture. is supported by a great deal of evidence that people process information by using something like schemata. The concept of scripts (Schank and Abelson. the major concern of anthropology. learning. 1967). while not universally accepted. 1979. Piaget. Kelly. discourse understanding. 1981). Boulding. 1976. which has other scripts embedded in it and is itself embedded in the general frame or schema for a restaurant.g. 1967) and on which Lewin. and problem solving. among other things. schemata seem to be framelike structures (Minsky. 1975) and "scripts" (Schank and Abelson. 1977. introduces behavior anc! involves a typical and organized sequence of events. and others based their work. 1984). I have long argued that the concept of schemata. An individual expects these to occur on the basis of prior learning and experience. This then reminds users how to act.. is central in EBS (see Rapoport. Abelson. Schank and Abelson (1977: 5) use a restaurant visit as their example: the visit elicits a restaurant script. Moreover. 1979. 1984). I r l my case the frame is the situation identified by users on the basis of cues in the setting.Epilogue 237 The mechanism that I propose is based on the concepts of "frames" (Minsky. which are related to frames. Tolman. 1975) and have been postulated to play an important role in perception. Abelson. and Schank are still referred to in all discussions in the literature and have been used extensively for all kinds of purposes.Mandler. necessarily as defined in psychology but also in their anthropological meaning. which help to encode and retrieve information. The congruence with my postulated process is almost complete. There is a very large literature on schemata in psychology. not. Thagard (1988: 198) points out that schema theory. Abelson. Through these it is also related to the concept of schemata more generally. which acts as a mnemonic. remembering (see Bartlett. 1976. as a framework within which particulars take on meaning as a way of life. which go back at least to Sir Frederick Bartlett in 1932 (Bartlett. Further more. and they typify what in this book I call a situation The point is made that well-learned scripts lead to a "mindless" state-people respond automatically with behaviors expected in the situa-tion. 1981) and how they are related (e. For example. 1977. the script is then the appropriate behavioral repertoire . 1986b). and enculturation. and hence as leading to routinized behavior (see Rapoport.
and the automatic or "mindless" response is culturally routinized behavior. 1987). and cognitive science has made available two developments which . The many examples in Norman 1988 which deal with small-scale elements of the built environment closely resemble my arguments in this book. these are "schemas" or "frames. and the like (Norman." (2) Human memory is associative-each schema points and refers to many others to which it is related and which help define the components or "network. equipment. and interiors. without further elaboration and pending further research and development. more recent work in psychology. settlements.60). which is also discussed in the previous section of this epilogue. and his analysis of industrial design extends and complements mine of landscapes. In this application three propositions are made (pp." (3) Much of the human power of deductive thought comes from using the information in one schema to deduce properties in another. light switches. It follows that environmental evaluation and preference are more a matter of overall affective response than of detailed analysis. 1977: 50. sometimes based on subliminal perception. various artifacts and machines. I begin with the argument that a global affective response. fits perfectly into a powerful mechanism being uncovered by research in cognitive science. which I developed in this book quite independently. enough has been said at least to make a case that the process by which settings communicate meaning and how this influences behavior. have for people. typically precedes any more detailed analysis and even sets the tone or feeling for more conscious perception (see Russell and Snodgrass. Thus.238 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT drawn upon to match the situation. buildings. 14-15) I then argue that these global affective responses are based on the meaning that environments. that is. Once again. door handles. and they are largely affected by images and ideals.In this book (pp. I adduce much evidence for this position. 1988). 115-1 16): (1) There is a logic or order to individual structures in the human mind. they are more a matter of latent than of manifest functions. There is another aspect of meaning that I propose in this book. brain science. The ideas of schema or frame theory have also been applied to part of the built environment and material culture-industrial design. and particular aspects of them. in the sense that the "success" of environments depends on their congruence with appropriate images (Rapoport.
is to refer to a . neurophysiology. This is partly because work and publication continue. in popular form. 1989a). although it would be both interesting and u s e f ~ lAll I will do. therefore. It also begins to describe. cognitive neurobiology. 1987. while many references could be added. see also n. neurotransmitters. or even before having registered fully what causes the emotional reaction. It thus seems . Over the years I have tended to use my earlier work as "predictions" tested to the extent that my conclusions. a complete and systematic review could have doubled the size of the book. The first is that there is now much additional evidence of the importance of affect generally (for one review. or something very much like them. There is also another reason. summarizes some of the research (Goleman. and this seems unnecessary. Also.~ recent newspaper account that. see Russell and Snodgrass. The literature on both these topics is voluminous and cannot possibly be reviewed here. are in fact those operating in the way meaning from the built environment influences preference and behavior. neurochernistry. and the like. the updating is neither systematic nor complete. the thalamus and amygdala) and the pathways between them.g. 8). What seems important is that there is a vast amount of work in brain anatomy. It also confirms the role of subliminal perception. There was also a limit set for the size of this epilogue. and much empirical evidence in its favor. the parts of the brain involved (e. The second again concerns possible mechanisms at the level of brain structure. and partly because to be thorough I would need to review quite a few different fields. examples. This research strongly argues for the primacy of affect and its ability even to override thought and to operate independently of it. understood as affective reactions that occur prior to thoughts being processed. and even diagram. and although it updates the discussion through the middle of 1989. and at an accelerating rate. it does not seem that they would change anything-they would just provide further support. Conclusion This epilogue is relatively brief. and so on which provides the bases for a mechanism to explain the process that I postulated.Epilogue 239 strengthen the postulated process.. proposals. and hypotheses have been supported. and elaboration. neurobiology. in any field that is alive and progressing. This once again strengthens the likelihood that the particular processes proposed. which avoid the neocortex and which provide the mechanism for the global affective response.
This process is usually self-evident and unproblematic.. including cognitive mapping. It is also desirable pragmatically for the reasons given in this book. higher dais for prosecutors in Italian courts. newspapers. It is noteworthy that a great many resources are being expended to lower the dais a few inches. be used. 1989). projective tests. Rapoport. 18). easy. and the like.240 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT quite in order to leave this ongoing process at the point it has reached and to hope that this new edition of the book will be used in the same way. novels. I have continued to collect and analyze such material. are part of a general tendency toward obfuscation in both the social sciences and the humanities. to make it esoteric. and should not. at least in a given cultural context. magazines. 1985b. It is also of interest that this change is traced to the impact of the "Perry Mason" television series. More than ever it seems that attempts to complicate the issue. As just one example. effortless. The material I have reviewed in this epiloque suggests that although some significant modifications to a part of Chapter 2 proved necessary. difficult. which will now be at the same level as that of the defense counsel (Hoffmann. advertising. This does not mean that the full repertoire of methods cannot. This is shown by my use. and it continues to show this self-evident use of meaning (e.g. these do not seem to invalidate any of the central arguments of f the book. It seems clearer than ever that people seem to obtain meanings from the environment and to understand it directly and easily. studies of en- . Given all this. But that is a topic for another day. and straightforward. This change reflects major changes in Italian law and clearly illustrates and reinforces the discussion of courtrooms in four other societies in this book (on pages 124-126 and in Fig. it follows that the study of these processes and meanings should be equally simple. and simple ways and to act appropriately. This is desirable conceptually because it is "natural" in the sense that it is like the way users interpret environmental cues in their everyday use of settings. and arcane. In most cases people notice and interpet cues in settings in straightforward. not just by me but by others. of material from television and film. in press f). The concept o levels of meaning as briefly described above actually helps to clarify the central argument and is also helpful in identifying the likely meanings in given situations. This justifies my emphasis on the methodological simplicity and directness of the NVC approach asone of its major attractions. 1985a. a recent newspaper story described the "symbolic" lowering of the special. in earlier work and in this book.
There are clearly other views. not only is NVC clearly a progressive research program but. That is..Such data are clearly best obtained using the NVC approach as I have developed it. It also continues to b e the case that very little NVC work concerns the built environment and material culture. what passes for theory in too many fields. observation. and s o on. although perhaps not the only. as one reviewer of this book thought. 1986b). Second. I argue in the text. approach for the study of the everyday low. The first is that there is explanatory theory. It will b e worthwhile to look for further work along these lines and to d o a more thorough and explicit job in relating these different bodies of work. cognitive science. the exact opposite of my position. the supposedly theory-driven approach of semiotics-does not mean. say. this also suggests that the study of meaning is not only straightforward but can also be explicitly scientific and that it benefits from work in other sciences.g.Epilogue 241 vironmental memory. These arguments for a relatively straightforward and direct approach to the study of meanings-as contrasted with. which is based o n research and supported by empirical data and which leads to understanding and prediction. Furthermore. is also important. that I was opposed to theory (Bedford. in press a). and related fields. in which it is often necessary to have a "natural history" stage (see Rapoport. of course. Methodological sophistication can go with simplicity of approach even in the study of high-level meanings. and the like. Thus nonverbal communication is the preferred. it is able to accommodate much work that seems to use other approaches. which is the subject of this book. It at least begins to suggest possible explanations for how the processes that I postulated work and thus should b e most helpful in theory development. Without engaging in polemics. and then there is "theory. ideology. The discovery of possible mechanisms for the processes proposed. Hodder.and middle-level meanings that built environments have for users. I was criticizing the latter. by research in neuroscience. is the case with linguistics. 31984). both inherently and seen broadly and eclectically as I suggest. I will make just two points. 1986). the construction of explanatory theory cannot begin until there is sufficient empirical data to suggest directions and to constrain such theory construction. but in my view. in fact. In addition. experiments. This is clear from the reviews by Despres (1987b) and Devlin (1988).and from the book ." which is really nothing more than opinion. they may even be dominant (e. This. they do not stand up to analysis (see Rapoport.
and SO on. some differences between the two fields. This is. of which about 400 are directly relevant to the point 1 am making here. 6." completed in late September 1989). . the history of science." "middlelevel. these settings accommodate users' needs rather better than the housing in Singapore-as did traditional culture-specific dwellings. 5. The point has been made to me that the terms "high-level. a relatively minor point and does not invalidate the rest of my argument. 2. 3. Admittedly. and it is central in a n y understanding of environment-behavior interaction. and there are. Notes 1.242 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT edited by Poyatos (1988). 1988). my suggestion on page 3 5 that the first two should be combined now seems inappropriate. in which my chapter is the only one to address those domains (Rapoport. These were drawn to my attention by a Visiting Fellow in our department. however. Note that even in the examples of traditional religious settings that I discuss where high-level meanings have been shown to be present. this may be so. my argument is that most users utilized very similar low-level cues (Rapoport. While not intended. in fact. try using nonverbal communication approaches. But that is another topic. My use of this concept in this connection does not mean that I necessarily accept Lakatos' more general views about science. A recent review of the literature by one of my doctoral students. however. I realize that there is disagreement with "lumping" semiotics and linguistics together. and in the light of this discussion. Paul Maas ("Aesthetic emotions. 7. When "symbols" are mentioned or used in studies of contemporary everyday settings. although I have not pursued this. There is also a possible link with Tuan's (1978) distinction between signs. Fridrich Dieckmann. affective signs. It seems to me. contains 465 references covering both aspects. 1988). that the starting point of semiotics is linguistics and that major linguistic influences permeate the former. 4. 8. they seem to be used as a synonym for "meaning" rather than in any technical sense." and "low-level" present a problem by implying some hierarchy of value. In any case. and symbols. I thus end with a plea that those interested in studying meaning in the built environment. but I have been unable to come up with better terms.
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187 Build~ngs. 24. 127. 43 Bedouin. 26. 24. 91-92. 139 Associational. Australian. 128. 137. 37. 78. 26. 20. 20. 124. 119. 73. 75. 19 Anthropology. 133. encoding. 186 Ainu. 111. 92. 93.9. 49. 130. 35. 16. 63. 36. 43 Bicultural~sm. 158-159. 118. 52. 14. 27. 141. 50. 74.64. 75. 150-151 Church. 80. 43-44. 25. 191 Communication. 146. 79. 104. 105. 140 Affordance. 65. 30. 174-175.95. 43 Code (includes coding. 86. 47. 13. 14. 90. 43. 98. 143. 170. 80. 142. 84.62. 57. 175 Cities. 64.85-86 Rororo. 56. 90. 48. 197 Atoni. 19. 35 Africa. 111 116. 97-98. see also Front Bali. 45. 145. 117. 187 China. 15. 95. 140. 30. 15. 104.149. 186 Berber. 115. 177-195 . 124. 67. 43. 164. 9 0 Cathedral. 60. 154. decoding. 45-46. 22. 46. 30. 96. 184 Back. 70-72. 137. 48. 19. 116. 148.covers subjects n only and includes neither names found in the text nor references to the new epilogue Aborigines. 47. 91.94. 128-129.The following index IS reproduced from the original e d ~ t ~ o It . 190-191 Behavior. 107. 26. 195. 180. 90. 96. 127. 181.61.60. 82.). 47. 25. 180. 124. 147. 9. 57. 64. 140. 179.126. 139. 116. 118 Color. 147. 72. 52. 43 Britain. see Urban Clothing. 162. 27. 5 1. 40. 87. 155 Cambodia. 9 4 Affect. 27. 99. 88.43. 117. 77. 174. 87. 85. 89. 117 Catal Huynk. 27. 15. 147. 137. 65.27. 177 Cognition. 23. 67. 141. 56. 94. 111. 118 Archaeology.9. 118. 56. 185. 77. 142. 43. 115. 81. 55. 27. 15. 58. 188-189. 86. 75. 148 Aesthetics. 59. 19. 16. 173. etc.96. 82. 21. 70. 82. 16. 125. 47. 63. 152. 75. 43.INDEX NOTE. 40. 114. 114. 14. 56. 92. 198 Architect. 27 Chain operations. 162. 173. 43 Amsterdam.132.
43. 144. 76. 79.114. 156.118. 22. 15. 124. 112. 159 Cues. 36. 156. 59. 170. 127. 172. 193 House (includes housing). 40. 136. 15. 157. 124. 137-141. 127. 183-185. 104. 1 1-13. 47. 27. 115. 60. 112. 74. 1 13 Evolution. 188. 9. 162. 82. 92. 75. 116. 89. 142. 181 Garden. 140. 42. 192. 191 Cultural landscape. 162. 22. 139. 26. 187. 25. 58. 126. 86. 23. 45. 22. 131132. 4 9 . 9. 191 Cultural un~versals. 173. 112-114. 118.61. 19. 34. direct effects of. 192 Dwelling. 30. 5 1 . 137. 107. 147. 152. 66. 97. 46. 137. 115. 29. 153. 158. 11. 73. 171. 59. 9. 76. 26-27.62. 106-107. 162167. 142-143. 76 Environment. 39. 139. 26. 130. 30. 119. 181. 107. 22. 9. indirect effects of. 55-56. 104. 60. 35. 65-70. 181 France. 144. 113. 19.117. 75. 133. 159. 15. 21. 45. 145. 88. 137. medieval. 188. 63. 171. 189. 132. 106. 147. 132. 134. 48. 17 1-172 Cross-cultural. 101. 43. . 53. 88 Decoration. 157. 170. 34. 4 1 . 139. 94. 131. 140. 14. 156. 21. 9. 101. 127. 52.60. 4 4 .141. 177-183. 152. 170. 67. 26. 157. 163. 173. 140. 141. 182. 119. 24. 99. 117. 30. 163 Density. 94. 131. 61. 192 Density. 99. 179 Cultural specificity. 27. 108.95. 77.92. 198 Ethology. 124-125 Crime. 129. 152. 53. 71. 106. 76. 56. 105. 162 Dogon. 96. 118 Fang. 137. 188189. 77. 5 6 . 51. 157. 102. 140 Greece. 15. 35. 139. 157. 44. 43 Domain. 74. 185. 4 0 . 22. 180. 39. perceived.106. 67. 147. 44. 172 Designers. 95. 115. 5 2 . 62. 26. 63. 158. 172. 15. 101. 32 Geography. 44. 133-134. 85. 195.91. 172. 129-130. 58. 170. 117.112 Culture. 193-195 House-settlement system.189 Fixed-feature elements. 89. 65. 134. 170. 30. 193 Generalization. 132. 106. 24. 69. 59. 97.111. 164. 91. 121. 23. 159. 68. 142. 64. 61. 119. 115. 107. 154 C o n t e x t . 128. 145. 107. 52. 35. 70-71. 198 Crowding. 93. 137. 170. 94. 186 Defensive structuring. 126. 144. 181 High style. 116 Europe. 57. 16. see also Back Furnishings. 130. 84. 98. 4 3 . 36. 100. 124. 167-169. 130. 169. 32.10. 198 Group identity. 19. 23. 20. 141. 167. 21-22. 159. 47. 26. 15. 47. 24. 23. 92.52. 62 Environmental quality. 118. 156-157. 150. 56. 132-133. 111. 16. 56. 1 1 1. 128. 82. 16. 132.250 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 59. see House Enculturation. 32. 15. 166. 66. 172. 142. 56. 87-90. 70. 132. 117 Group. 126. 178 Culture core. 38. 50. 145. 117. 99. 76. 89. 90. 158 Fences. 163-168. 89. 128-129. 147153. 174. 77. 171. 123. 23. 102. 95. 193. 51. 170. 26. 102. 22. 64. 102. 156. 24. 72. 9. 172. 64. 27. 115 Front. 170. 27.40. 193 Complexity. 65. 155. 15. 57.67.124. 184 Content analysis. 40. 26. 26. 143. 173. 56. 19. 138. 156-157. 141. 21-23. 55-56 Environmental design. 46.111. 187. 198 Homogeneity. 49. 145. 182 Courtrooms. 81. 26. 9. 184. 19. 56. 32. 167. 189. 34.
112. 11. 189-190 Maya. 53. 43 Parks. 137. 76. 26-34. 49. 35. 40. 107. 63. 22. 126. 169 Information. 139.). 162. 186. 69. 173 Image. 97. 194 Man-environment studies. 121 Location. 1 1. 51. 47. 115. 96101. 128-129 Navaho. 19. 80. 23. 86. 192. 15. 185. 52. 194. 35. 162168. 123-124. 34. 171. 114 Neighborhood. 98. 99. 55.Index 251 Ideal. 163. 37. 163-164. 156-157. 192 Middle East. 171. 27. 197 . 77. 184 Nonverbal communication. 51. 157. 97. 43. 27. 46. 175 North West Coast (U. 106. 8. 132. 94. 66. 126. 127. 43. 24. 114. importance of. 70. 174. 170. 16. 164. 198 Mexico. 155156. 156. 37. 131. 36. 89.S. 77. 173. 102. 50. 139. 91. 142. 72. 198 Nonvisual senses. 112. 9 1 Materials. 9. 169. 173. 134. 144. 108. 26. 96.136. 108. 32. 26. 99. 55-86. 90. 2 2 Pantheon. 111. 36. 141. 144145. 56. 118. 92. 51. 176. 115 Lifestyle. 145 Perception (includes perceptual). 174-175. 66. 80. 105. 27. 30. 127-128. 91. 116. 153. 129. 170. 194 Isphahan. 118. 188. 153. see also Manifest Latin America. 127. 48-53. 127. 14. 193 Neutral place. 155. 49. 9. 156. 36. 129. 27.177. 45. 170 Nubia. 121. 169 Pattern. 114. 142. 119. 155. 28. 34. 139. 84. 40. 110-121. 126. 108. 101. 11. 126. 141 Landscape. 89. 84. 145 Lawn. 134. study of. 80-81. 126. 145. 162. 198 Manifest.137. 140. 43. 47. 30. 139. 61. 117 Italy. 26. 167. 139. 77. 9. 68. 184. 47. 133. 67. 19. 117. 144. 183. 139. 40. 134. 95 Meaning. 23. 43. 140 Milwaukee. 186 Nonfixed-feature elements. 82. 184. 87-121 . 72. 183. 134. 129-130. 12 1. 14. 30. 69. 152. 32. 197 Model. 88. 90. 185. 15. 99. 181. 76. 142. 117. 191. 46. 123. 115. 115 Noticeable difference. 181-183. 137. 22. 138. 74. 16. 167 Mnemonic function of environment. 140. 37. 96. 132. 112. 88. 179 India. 92. 186 Inference. 115. 27. 26. 173. 169. 178. 45. 23. 21. 66. 49. 159. 121. 129. 179 Identity. see Decoration Overdesign. 91. 28. 149 Mosque. 104. 19. 87. 24. 73. 143. 38. 198 Linguistics (includes language). 129. 116. 73. 152. 84. 24. 98. 49. 129. 155. 27. 141-142. 128. 28. 129. 71. 56. 107. 93. 192 Marrakesh. 119. 76. 34. 102. 27. 25. 33. 114-116. 45 Ornament. 126-127. 21. 36. 26.139. 174. 188 Meals. 116. 29. 74. 26. 144.170. 157 Landscaping. 168. 45. 15. 189. 105. see also Latent Maori. 172. 127. 188. 52. 144. 134. 35-53 Methodology. 145. 100.123. 52. 16. 87. 173. 107. 29. environmental. 159. 72. 117. 179. 82. 50. 134. 69. 150. 73. 114. 11. 162-163. 153. 173 Lexicon. 187. 152. 184. 120. 87. 141. 131. 150. 158. 198 Moslem clty. 121. 67. 132. 167. 75. 95. 177. 169 New Guinea. 63. 119. 75. 181 Latent. organization of. 119. 142. 11 1. 172. 57. 114. 191 Open-endedness.
171 Semantic differential. 96. 64. 132. 24. 84.25. 77. 142 Phenomenology. 96. 57. 172. 179. 92. 115. 56. 91. 30. 116. 50. 90. 59-61. 121. 155. 15. 97. 87.168 United States. 35. 144-145. 173. 85. 14. 14. 198 Time. 191. 32. 48. 120. 112. 35 Place. 94. 40. 89. 63. 159.173. 154. 185 Sign. 152. 46. 39. 194 Redundancy. 126. 183. 27. 191 Thailand. 67. 153. 132. 89-96. 181 Symbolic interactionism. 68-69. 175. 23. 69. 184. 11 1 Theory.43. 116. 15. 28. 193 Stress. 114. 78. 99. 35. 9. 88. 29. 77. 99. 147. 124. 145. 1 17. 61. 139. 88. 118. 4 0 . 85-86. 26. 141. 28. 26. 188. 90. 164. 147. 22. 5 1. 27. 129.28. 121. 107.29. 36.81. 118. 137.44. 22.43-48. 43. 69. 170. 118. 141.84-85. 138. 185. 56. 121. 57. 36-43. 67. 124. 34. 67. 124. 162.40. 141. 92. 151-153. 9. 9. 107. 181. 177 Preliterate. 157. 153. 23. 137. 162-168. 83. 45. 134. 89. 175-176. 197. 144145. 21. 43 Repertory grid. 118 Temple. 89.167. 115. 144. 32. 145. 131. 56. 73. 150 Private. 150. 71. 152. 70. 28. 187 . 198 Shops (includes shopping). 75 Taxonomy. 30. 158. 140. 35. 26. 11 1. 98. 193. 118. 155. 158. 56. 79-80. 186 Plants (includes planting). 186 Schema. 78. 46. 80. 124. 141. 35 Semantics. 141. 187 Relationships. 159. 40. 174. 24 South America. 185. 89. 40. 194 Peru. 80 Syntactics. 5 1. 145.41. 99. 181 Semiotics. 154. 65. 116-117. 133. 92. 62. 59. 62. 152. 156-157. 128. 50. 141. 156. 118. 52. 157. 156. 16. 156. 65. 127. 39. 33. 35. 172-173 Symbol (includes symbolism). 117. 36 Rules. 119. 188. 50. 181 South Africa.94. 193 Standards. 93-94. 76. 43. 36. see also Private Pueblos. 150.66. 105. 167. 27. 80. 47. 133 Signal detection theory. 116.41. 157. 26. 39-40. 178 Renaissance church. 41. 9. 48. 178179. 158 Popular design. 173. 145. 37. 127. 95. 56. 140 Space organization. 84. 43. 132.252 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Personalization. 148 Recreation.145 Setting. 175 Territory. 169. 45-46 Pragmatics. 37. 47. 126-127. 94. 56. 61. 191 Rural. 128. 170. 14. 27. 152. 94-95. 21. 27. 65. 91. 77. 162. 184. 180. 139 Public. 190-191 Trees. 66. 136. 159. 174. 162. 52. 154. 35. 28. 29. 118. 149-152. 19. 99. 144. 26 Status. 136. 37. 89. 75. 30. 178. 14. 156. 152.187. 100. 80. 15. 171. 142. 121. 38. 95. 169. 149. 159. 66. 43. 39. 170. 40. definition and interpretation of. 38. 158. 52 Semifixed-feature elements. 99. 107. 32. 56. 119. 159. 56. 147. 77-79. 91. 169. 93. see also Public Psychology. 73 Situation. 134. 37. 194 Street. 169. 171. 144. 29. 73. 32. 179-180 Tombs. 133 Suburb (includes suburban). 191 Structuralism. 115. 88. 90. 174. 147. 139. 142. 188. 34. 57. 23. 63. 28. 130-131. 141. 9. 186. 152. 133. 32. 162. 185. 36. 121. 43. 93.50. 114 Quebec. 177. 118. 75. 139. 172 Sacred.
88. 4 5 . 189 Wilderness. 21. 70. 7 0 . 30. 43. 157. 24. 90. 198 Village. 76.Index 253 Urban. 92. 27. 179 Vegetation. 34.28-29. 89. 188 Values. 9. 158. 22. 3 4 . 98. 27. 159. 22. 99. 141. 16. 158. 4 0 . 141. 1 17. 1 19. 8 0 . 115. 64. 7 6 . 159 Yoruba. 21. 9. see Plants Vernacular. 142. 29-30. 20. 134. 121. 1 4 . 141. 89. 119. 149 . 141-142. 117. 139. 15. 183. 137-176 Users. 4 0 . 28. 4 3 . 40. 145. 26. 150. 27. 4 4 . 117. 19.