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



The Meaning of the Built Environment

With a New Epilogue by the Author



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

5 6

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


For Dorothy .

It is a subject that has concerned me on and off for a number of years. 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:.PREFACE After long neglect. At the same time.. in the first instance. since then. only the recent past. This interest has continued. only the Western cultural tradition. and indeed grown. although this review . I emphasize the contemporary United States because it also seerrls important to consider the usefulness of this approach to the present. the approach seems to be working as intended. precisely its ability to relate and bring together previously unrelated findings and facts. at once humanistic and scientific. I emphasize the role ol cultural variables and use examples from diverse cultures and periods. Although I have added new material. How these intersect and become mutually relevant is important-both generally (Koestler. As usual. much has also been left out because details and examples can be multiplied endlessly. the subject of meaning in the built environment began to receive considerable attention when this book was completed in 1980. Since both the number and the diver:.ity of studies that a particular approach can subsume is important. 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. This involve: working with small pieces of information and evidence from varied fields and disciplines that use different approaches. to allow for generalizations than are possible if one considers only the more l~alid high-style tradition.which I see as a new discipline. concerned with developing an explanatory theory of environment-behavior relations (ERR). a large number of references were added in the Epilogue. 1964) and in EBS more specifically. as well as a variety of environments and sources. Since many were added in October 1989 (in the Epilogue). and only the formal research literature. I approach the problem from the perspective of environmerrt-behavior studies (EBS). The test of any valid approach or model is.

I approach the topic from the latter tradition. As the dates of some of my earlier articles suggest. In October 1989. and contexts.10 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT of the literature also is neither systematic nor complete. vernacular. began the manuscript in mid-1978. urban forms. when data are available. 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. historically. I further developed this at a number of presentations at various universities between 1976 and 1978. and emphasize that it is significant more for how one thinks and what one considers than for specific information. the ideas discussed in this book have been developing for some time. revealing its full complexity. buildings. and worked on it in my spare time until completion of the final draft in March 1980. and EBS. Frequently it is the unforeseen and not always intuitively obvious relationships that are important. I suggest that the way of thinking described in this book is of interest in this connection. They are frequently at the intersection of two or more previously unrelated disciplines-from social psychology and biochemistry to molecular biology. It is also applicable to a wide range of environments (preliterate. clothing-even social behavior and the body itself). and high-style) and topics (landscapes. 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. both sets of references need to be used. however. Since the new references have not been integrated with the old. unlike other approaches to meaning. that mechanisms are being discovered that may explain how the processes that are postulated work. Rapoport. describing the argument in concise form. sociobiology. It can be read as a narrative. in the environment itself (see. 1977) and in the development of new fields. recent as it is. furnishings. Some minor revisions and bibliographic additions were made in mid-1982. I corrected a number of typographical errors and updated a few entries in the original bibliography. in addition to preparing the Epilogue and the references for it. popular. and any section can be expanded by following the references-or all the references could be followed to elaborate and expand the argument.The School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee helped with the typing. It is also applicable cross-culturally and. for example. The specific formulation and basic argument. . periods. as the Epilogue suggests. It also seems. This has implications for how to read this book. 1968a.

regularities. among many others. questionnaires. 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). songs. and s o forth. 1977: 1-4). what they like or dislike about them. stories. novels. and advertisements. newspaper reports. and makes a useful starting point for the argument. how they feel about them. unself-conscious manner for other purposes. 1969b. and constanc~es. 1977). they must also make sense of a large variety of findings . 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.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. Such material tends to show how people see environments. and other instruments. o n e can use interviews. and which attitudes seem to be self-evident (see Rapoport. one can analyze historical and crosscultural examples and trace patterns. sets for film or television. This is because it fits into the model even though it clearly was not intended to do so. that which addresses the nature of the mechanisms that link people and environments (see Rapoport. One can use observation of behavior. illustrations. One of my earliest published articles is an example of this type of analysis. These may include. One can also analyze written and pictorial material that has not been produced consciously to evaluate environments but in an unstructured. travel tlescriptions.

utilitarian chairs and the harsh. the bare surgical-like atmosphere further encouraged by the plain. in conglomerate dissaray. These descriptions (as well as photographs of the three classrooms) are given in full elsewhere (Rapoport. everything in it could be made of plastic. each letting in a little of the outside. T h e room is too clean. multipurpose appearance. and the Berkeley Hills. gives the large room a close. 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. 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. about the campus. too large. Writing was the essence of the problem-not the subject matter. Some exercises were about apples and paintings. In 1966 I came across several sets of comments by student teachers of English and by teachers of English participating in a summer institute. 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. The low-hanging phosphorescent lights diffuse a n uncomfortably revealing glare upon the myriad of objects which. both at the University of California at Berkeley. too American. 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. 1967a). 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. Our claustrophobic triple hour seminar room contained by four perfect walls whose monotony is relieved by crude murals. in different disciplines and for different purposes. .12 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT and studies done over long periods of time. but what was also noticeable and contradictory to this musical. too modern. glaring white light. cluttered. surrounds a bleak space around which embryo ideas openly float. Here a selection will be given. long tables. austere. sensual confusion was the operating-room green walls. 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.

What is of primary interest. color. The large and almost empty windowless room with its sturdy enclosing and barren walls inspired neither disgust nor liking. peacefulness. A selection follows: T h e rectangular room was clearly a stern example of functionalism. It wasvery long a n d grey. the reactions seem to stress monotony. it is more a matter of latent than of manifest function. airconditioning hum. and it is largely affected by images and rdeals" (Rapoport. and s o forth. that room with its yellow-grey walls. The descriptions in both sets deal mostly with color. long silver and brown chairs and tables. and furnishings. as well as indications that people use various environmental elements to identify the purpose of these rooms as well as their character and mood.The Importance of Meaning 13 Other passages not included are purely descriptive or stress sterility. In a recent study that does what I did for rooms above. the colcl grey steel cab~nets. grey metal cabinets. in the present context. greens and browns which form an apparently purposeless airless chamber. isolation from the wprld. a boxed-in quality. is more a matter o overall affective response f than of a detailed analysis of specific aspects. o n e might easily have forgotten how trapped o n e was. starkness. all lit by narrow overhead lights which revealed h it a s a fit place t o spend s o many long grey hours. sterility. The meanings of environments It appears that people react to environments in terms of the meanings the environments have for them. however. Some can be interpreted as negative. flickering lights. 1977: 60). 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. Upon enteringthe doorway o n e must comment upon the tasteless array of greys. then. emptiness. light quality. One might say that "environmenial evaluation. while others seem positive. The comments by a group of English teachers tended to be more uniformly and strongly negative. but at the scales of cities and through active . is the heavy load of affective and meaning-laden terms used in these descriptions. a n d the bulletin board w h ~ ran the length of it.

It is a basic argument of this book that these global. and hence quiet. these meanings are partly a result of people's interaction with these environments." so important in the modern movement. affective responses are based on the meaning that environments. and particular aspects of them. n. 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. This also seems to apply to things other than environments. the university as client. recreation areas. This applies equally to classrooms. since affect is read on the basis of the nonverbal messages projected by the actors. cities. It can therefore be shown that people react to environments globally and affectively before they analyze them and evaluate them in more specific terms. dark.) Thus it becomes extremely important to study such meanings. most responses consisted of affective words (Burgess.14 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT probing. places considered to be industrial. 1978). In Britain. have for people. while containing descriptive and evaluative elements (which. stress affective aspects and associations (Jackovics and Saarinen. 1977: 50). This. Thus the whole concept of environmental quality is clearly an aspect of this-people like certain urban areas. 1979). in a recent study of the descriptions of the meaning of urban place in Britain.). are liked (Burgess. which are then fitted t o the material. clearly have meaning for people). goes far . T o give just one recent example-affect is most important in the interpersonal relations involved in health care (Di Matteo. housing. Arizona. and hence smoky. because of what they mean. not only d o we find this happening. or housing forms. student dormitories.Thus trees are highly valued not least because they indicate high-quality areas and evoke rural associations. healthy. Meaning also gains in importance when it is realized that the concept of "function. unhealthy. "What is the meaning of these rooms in terms of what they communicate about the attitudes of various actors in the design process. wilderness areas. the findings are very similar and some of the phrases even echo those above. clearly. Similarly. In that case. "and in the case of environments affective images play the major role in decisions" (Rapoport. (Although. as we shall see. but we could also ask the question. In the example of the rooms with which I began. Material objects first arouse a feeling that provides a background for more specific images. the images held of Phoenix and Tucson. is an issue of great importance for my argument. and gentle. 1978: 17). and so on. and dirty are disliked.d. in themselves. places with a rural character.

1981). 1976a. acceptability. and schemata. and s o on. 1979). Physical elements not only make visible and stable cultural categories.3. buildings. so that the physical environment-clothes. and in the enculturation of children (Rapoport. This gains in importance when it is realized that latent aspects of function may be the most important. their preferences. 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 that built forms.see also Rapoport. categories. gardens. it is quickly realized that meaning is central to an understanding of how environments work. and (4) the meaning o the activity. f (3) additional. partly because their . and that this applies to economics. even to food (see Douglas and Isherwood.The Importance of Meaning 15 beyond purely instrumental or manifest functions. In fact. 1979b). or associated activities that become part o the f activity system. 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. that is. like other aspects of material culture. adjacent. 1979a. streets. value object to symbolic object (Gibson. they can be decoded if and when they match people's schemata. ranging from the concrete object through use object. 1977). Any activity can be analyzed into four components: (1) the activity proper. and so on-is used in the presentation of self.a n d 4 that leads to differences in form. neighborhoods. the differential success of various designs. to consumption. 1968. the meaning aspects of the environment are critical and central. This suggests that meaning is not something apart from function. and judgments of environmental quality. are physical expressions of these schemata and domains (Rapoport. (2) the specific way o doing it. to all artifacts and social possessions. furnishings. f It is thevariability of 2. but is itself a most important aspect of function. in establishing group identity (Rapoport. Note that this typology relates in an interesting way to the hierarchy of levels of meaning. they also have meaning. 1 9 5 0 . 1976b. 1978a). When latent aspects of functions are considered.

1967b: 34)-it means"home. 1980." This also helps explain the use of imitation American colonial furniture in the NASA lunar reception building in Houston (Time. 1967a) to reproduce "colonial" elements (see Figure 1). panels. 1976). Also. not architects' or critics'. One reason was ownership itself." "historicist. If we look at such housing (which. Note also the front doors. Delaware. where people were said to prefer and to be buying private houses that were of lower standard than public housing. Ruscitto and Barovetto): bay windows. This advertisement shows 49 uses of aluminum and the many ways in which this new metal can provide "handsome classic columns in front. and other elements. the gas lamp on the lawn.16 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT schematavay. and small front yards with low fences (see Figure 2). costs less to build than public housing) in Southport." A similar phenomenon is the use of the then-new material aluminum in an advertisement by Reynolds Aluminum (Time. clearly. The meaning of "desirable old house" matches the schema "colonial. the total image. It is users' meanings that explain why nineteenth-century houses being restored in Wilmington. the decorative handles. the overall shape-even construction techniques of nineteenth-century houses (Architectural Record. railings. incidentally. brackets. shutters. classical doorways. 1979. latent rather than instrumental or manifest functions seem dominant. the landscaping. is traditional to an extreme degree. It is thus users' meaning that is important. although . It is these stylistic elements that help communicate the appropriate meanings. it is the meaning of everyday environments. local elements in new housing. In this case we find the use of traditional. the two welcome mats. is the presence of elements that remove the "stigma of being a council tenant" (Hillman." siding. 1979). and many others). I would argue. In fact. the whole current "neovernacular. have their porches removed (although they are part of the style) and shutters added (although they are not). The basic arrangement itself. shingles on the roof. not famous buildings-historical or modern (see Bonta. another. Similar elements seem to be involved in the case of low-cost housing in Britain. the recently completed Victoria Mews in San Francisco (by Barovetto. and so on. the most striking elements that seem to removethe stigma are the small-paned windows. Jencks." and "postmodernist" movements can be seen in these terms. Comparable kinds of elements are found in much more expensive housing in the United States.

1979.This may be because of their metaphorical . Groat and Canter.merits use. . or their context.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. the excessively subtle and idiosyncratic nature of the elcused. the nature of the relationships among them. 1979).


the question is how (and. "soft" aspects of the environment such as meaning. whereas thelay public. In effect. but clearly environments possess certain characteristics that produce the experience of complexity much more reliably and unequivocally than others. led to an even greater neglect. these are related to. A recent example o this is Hertzberger's f old people's home in Amsterdam (Architectural Review. Perceptual and associational aspects of the enuironment To use a distinction between perceptual and associational aspects of the environment (see Rapoport. be specified and designed (see Rapoport. I assume. 6). in fact. An analogous situation occurs in other domains. react to environments in associational terms. These characteristics can.one could argue that in man-environment research. see Figure 3). whether) meanings can be encoded in things in such a way that they can be decoded by the intended users. the actual physical elements guide and channel these responses. 1977: ch. 1977: ch. and evoked by. The attempt to be "scientific. Thus while one speaks of crowding or stress as being subjective reactions." to apply positivistic approaches. while people filter this information and interpret it. This lack of communication of meaning supports the view that meanings are in people. Yet. In the perceptual realm. 1979). 1977). the experience of complexity is subjective. not in objects or things (see also Bonta. at least in their early days.This was designed in perceptual terms by the architect. thus. 4). Put differently. but .However things d o elicit meanrngs.The Importance of Meaning 19 which may be inappropriate-or neglected. the question is how they elicit or activate these meanings and guide them and. the users. 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. which things or objects " w o r k best. physical (and other) environmental characteristics. that physical elements of the environment do encode information that people decode. led to a neglect of the fuzzy. the development of man-environment studies. 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). 1976. for the moment. Ironically. of course.

The argument of this book hinges on this distinc- . even if one accepts the importance of meaning. Thus.ZR LW 0fi P M ~ o ~ A p uli0 5 wm UEVlEd. 1967b) questioned that focus and proposed that users' meaning was the more important. who saw the white frame and black infill elements in terms of crosses and coffins. as an early book on meaning from a semiotic perspective (Jencks and Baird. C7 L r X .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. In 1967. AY q e a m ~WSGJW . particularly since both designers and users are far from homogeneous groups. that is. VOL BY CLE~=BGRC. as having highly negative associations. in revised form. my article (Rapoport. FEB 1 76) 9 ~ Figure 3 0 Fe-r o was evaluated in associational terms by the users. One thus needs to ask whose meaning is being considered. 1969).20 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT kwbd OL-* 760fCE\S HOME . one still needs to ask which group we are discussing. Both the special issue and the book stressed architects'meaning. No 448.

The basic question-meaning for WHOM?-continues to distinguish the present work from most work on meaning. or at least for the cognoscenti. colors. one might suggest. what has generally been considered is the meaning environments have for architects. completing it. see Rapoport. their own values. 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). resistance. the critics. It relies on accounts in the nonprofessional press (newspapers and magazines). to put up pictures and calendars. In that case . particularly if it is a single meaning.The Importance of Meaning 21 tion. and conflicts generated by the designers' prohibition of the use of any personal objectsor manipulation of furniture." They wanted to prevent a "kewpie doll atmosphere. is that we tend to overdesign buildings and other environments. The users their saw things rather differently and resisted. that is. are culture specific and hence culturally variable? The point made is that the meaning of many environrnents is generated through personalization-through taking possession. or plants in order to preserve an overall aesthetic ideal. since the universes of discourse of designers and the public tend to be quite different. The newspaper and magazine accounts stressed this element of conflict between users and the designers representing the company (and. furnishings. the various publics. changing it. 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. since meanings. those in the know. Some even brought suit against the company I knew some people in the Columbia Records Division who fought these attempts at control-and wort. I argued. opposition.An aesthetician was put in charge to choose art. like the environments that communicate them. or the public or. to have family photographs on desks. more correctly. and the like to be compatible with the building. plants. The company and its designers wished to preserve uniformity. which is far from certain) may be inappropriate. From that point of view the meaning designed into an environment (even if it can be read. The nonprofessional accounts recount the dissent. to communicate a particular meaning. They tried to bring i r ~ own objects. 1967b). The question that must be addressed is: What meaning does the built environment have for the inhabitants and the users. to introduce their own plants. to safeguard the building as a "harmonious environment. What is wrong." to avoid having "things thrown all over" and"haphazard things all overthe walls" thus turningthe building into aUwallto wall slum" (Rapoport 1967b: 44).

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. where users' meaning is clearly much more central and where the affective component generally can be expected to be much more significant. 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. status. This conflict described in the journalistic accounts can be interpreted in terms of a single designers' meaning conflicting with the various meanings of users. the whole modern movement in architecture can be seen as an attack on users' meaning-the attack on ornaments. giving meaning becomes particularly important because o the emotional. although related. The argument in the article then shifts to a different. with movable elements rather than with architectural elements. many examples were given showing the importance of personalization and changes as ways of establishing and expressing meaning. 1 9 7 7 .In the study just cited. in in- . "In the case of housing. on "what-nots" in dwellings and "thingamabobs" in the garden. with decoration. Such changes seemed important in establishing and expressing priorities. as well as the process of incorporating these elements into the environment. 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 open-ended (Rapoport. This implied a setting that communicated that message. Second. 1968a: 300). of loose fit as opposed to tight fit. in fact. changeable. This then leads to a conclusion related to the need for underdesign rather than overdesign. This argument can be applied with even greater strength to housing. ethnic and other group identity. 1969c.22 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT they saw the environment they wished as communicating that they were creative people. and the like. that architects generally have tended to be opposed strongly to this concept. artists. First. Two things seem clear from the above. which is additive. that much of the meaning has to do with personalization and hence perceived control. in defining front and back. 1981). 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. on decoration. which is partly and importantly in terms of the ability of users to communicate particular meanings through personalization. highly personalized environment.

Thus. need to be changeable by the users in order to establish and express important meanings. they seemed systematically to block various forms of expression available t o users until none were left. could be based on an analysis of various forms of expression in different situations. taken specifically for this article. for example. The very definition of frameworks. 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. it could reveal "which elements. although that could be important by allowing specific elements to change. experimental. might be significant and important to various groups and that this relative importance could be studied. high levels of control over the total environment (Rapoport. furniture and its arrangement. it was further suggested. arranged differently. in any given case. the distinction between designers' meaning and users' meanings. as opposed to space organization as such. materials. First. 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). and the high degree of consistency. furnishings. A number of theoretical. It is in this sense that the discussion of open-endedness in housing is related to issues such as the importance of meaning. or unimportant. 1968a: 303). the high degree of integration. showed the importance of the po5. this would then define the less important. A series of photographs of housing in London. that is. over meaning. designers-even when I hey stressed physical flexibility-seemed strongly to resist giving up control over expression. It was also suggested that different elements. its variability among groups. This would then provide two important related pieces of information. plants. and case studies were cited. and the like. objects. that is. elements that could constitute the "frameworks" to be designed. which allow many arrangements of furniture that long narrow rooms make impossible.The Importance of Meaning 23 dicating degrees of privacy. colors. which changes achieve personalization and what different individuals and groups understand by this term. Second.sibilityof making changes. that is. There are . and it was argued that not only were designers opposed to open-endedness and seeking total control over the housing environment. An example is square rooms. Finally. This argument also reiterated and stressed the importance of decorative elements. In other words. and housing in Britain over a period of 10 years was evaluated in these terms. award juries praised the use of few materials.

as well as the meaning implicit in the process of change and personalization itself. a doric entry portico. Note that none of the changes are for practical or instrumental functions: arches in the hallway. 1975). is that changes in expression by personalization may be more important than changes made for practical or instrumental functions. an elaborate front door with decorative door handles. a fireplace with historical associations. that they are not only natural but essential to the way in which people most commonly (although not universally) establish meaning. elaborate wallpapers. they also consist of adding porches. In the case of Le Corbusier's houses at Pessac (Boudon. These are all clearly associational elements. 1968a: 305). and styles.24 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT also rapidly changing fashions. ." "disrupts inside-outside flow of the facade. sense of equilibrium. a decorative rose trellis." loss of "simple. The result of this argument. not as large or lavish. in the case of some of Martienssen's houses in South Africa (Herbert. 1979). what degree of open-endedness is needed. All of the changes have to do with the meanings of elements that indicate home. . chimneys. and s o on. and changeable parts may be relatively few in number. in addition to a set of design implications and guidelines that d o not concern us here. these changes were described as a "tragedy" (Knobel. 1969). particularly in the vernacular tradition. It may be found that few areas are critical. A set of changes and additions were made to Chermayeff's house at Bentley Wood. Frameworks could then possibly be defined in terms of the relative rate of change based on an analysis of past examples. at any rate. 1979: 3 11). These are.The last criticism is particularly interesting in view of the historically and cross-culturally pervasive tradition of emphasizing entry. pitched or hipped tile roofs. understated entrance" f (Knobel. and hence which areas and elements need changeability. Other possible ways are in terms of the importance of the meaning attached to various elements. The changes documented in the cases of other modern houses. and s o on. fads. "softening" garden landscaping. The criticism of these changes reflects different schemata and is couched in typically perceptual terms: "destroyed. can be interpreted in similar terms.one finds . what is actually regarded as personalization. all researchable questions (Rapoport." "no longer as strong a sense of the openness o the house. For example. Consider a recent example that both stresses this latter point and shows continued refusal by designers to accept this process.

nine dimensions of home. hedges. "Put in windows. 1976) One may suggest that an important component of the associational realm is precisely the meaning the environment has for people. I-add. landscape heavily and it wouldn't look that different from an ordinary two storey house" (Crowe. and the like. It contrasts with other houses such as a barn-red. Paint it white. for example as Bachelard (1969) suggests." without windows it looks like a tomb. social networks. 1 9 7 8 . 1979: 5). traditional facades. shutters." The neighbors see it as crazy ideas. small rtxtangular windows instead of horizontal bands. a childhood home and place of upbringing. statement of self-identity. 1979: 4). porches. arnong young people in Manhattan. Hayward (1978)discovered. chimneys. a personalized place. normal home" or "regular house"? The modifications they would accept define it. 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. 1 9 7 1 . the house has a 78-foot long blank wall of rough reddish boards. shelter and physical structure. indivi tion of facades. What is a "good. finally. However.It's nothing but "damned cubes" and "boxes. since one may ~ x p e cthese to be stronger among other populations and in other t 1ocalc:s (see Cooper. and a flat roof. Thitj is clearly related to a schema. a place of privacy and refuge. maybe a porch and a peaked shake roof. hardly any windows generally.The materials are "junk. the fact that most of these have to d o with meanings and associations is most significant. 'There are many ways of defining it (Rapoport.The Importance of Meaning 25 pitched roofs. 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. and want it pulled down and a "regular" house built. and. "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. as opposed to "good normal homes" (Crowe. 1979: 7). how these meanings are construed and what these meanings communicate. including relationships with others. Given the population and locale. partly as a result of considerations such as the above. a locus of everyday behavior and base of activity. 1980a). a place of stability and continuity. 1979: 12). and it is composed of two cubes. Feelings run high: "Two orange crates would look better" (Crowe. and many of these involve meaning and associational elements as central. to the concept of a house. the neglect of meaning in environmental design research is beginning to . flower boxes.

1972) and the subjective effects of stress (Rapoport. 1975a)." their aesthetic quality. they depend on theirmeaning." Yoruba or Nubian dwellings. the effects they have on people. that is. 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. 1975b. buildings of preliterate cultures are considered. particularly. species-specific constancies that may exist (see Rapoport. the central role of subjective factors. The variability of standards. In any case. 1977: ch. and s o on. Before any meaning can be derived. 1980b). 4) are a necessary precondition for the derivation of meaning. cues must be noticed. many of which are based on the associations and meanings that particular aspects of environments have for people. which are partly due to repeated and consistent use and enculturation interacting with any pan-cultural and biological. For example. density. Yet these decorations are significant and meaningful-their primary purpose is associational . These differences are needed and are useful for associations to develop. (1) When "primitive" art and. noticeable differences help identify places and act as mnemonics (Rapoport. even if it does not make explicit.leads to the inescapable conclusion that all stimuli are mediated via"symbolic" interpretation. having to do with significance. Consider just a few examples. or environmental quality implies. The growing concern about perceived crowding. they are generally considered perceptually.26 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT change. the increasing interest in meaning is due to the overwhelming and inescapable evidence. noticeable differences (Rapoport. however. Sepik River Haus Tambaran in New Guinea. from many cultures and periods. or Maori buildings are evaluated in terms of their "beauty. crime. 1978b). 1979a). It should be noted that perceptual and associational aspects are linked: The former is a necessary condition for the latter. If we wish to be more "scientific" we may evaluate their elaborate decorations perceptually and argue that they create a richerand more complex environment. preferences for various environments and choices among them. that is. the North West Coast Indian Dwellings and "Totem poles. even the subjectivity of pain (Rapoport and Watson.Thus while the meaning of place is associational. so that meaning becomes a most important variable in our understanding of the environment. of its central importance.

other traditional settlements are only comprehensible in terms of their sacred meanings. That goal was to give a vision or foretaste of paradise. in the case of India. temples. an associational goal. color. and houses (Lannoy. scale. 1979b). For example. Sopher. and many others (see Rapoport. which designers have tended to evaluate in perceptual terms-space. 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. or more than. 1961). ancient Rome (Rykwert. temperature. 1969. body decorations. structure-yet the main significance of which a t the tirne was in its . in the perceptual realm. light and shade. sound. 1976). smell. 1979b). Of course. kinesthetics. light. Architecture is f best understood as a "symbolic technology". of course. 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. 1971). 1974." so that cosmology is the divine model for structuring space-cities. 1964-1965. both in terms of the characteristics imputed to that place and in terms of the contrast with the characteristics of the surrounding urban fabric. Yet the purpose of this remarkable manipulation of the full potential range of perceptual variables in all sensory modalities-color. Rapoport. materials. 1977: 188.The Importance of Meaning 27 in that they communicate complex meanings. 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. China (Wheatley. Ghosh and Mago. and other elements of material culture. and so on-was for the prlrpose of achieving a meaning. the "science of the dwelling of the gods. we must consider the meanings they had for their users (Rapoport. for example. Cambodia (Giteau. medieval Europe (Muller. (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. clothing. 1964. 1976). villages. 1979a. 1971. This also applies to jewely. This. 239). makes their real complexity greater still-their complexity is both perceptual and associational. 1980b). A similar problem arises with the medieval cathedral. it is described as vastuvidya. 1979b. Thus in order to understand "primitive" and vernacular environments.

Hence also the possibility. or material well-being may be the values expressed in schemata and hence are reflected in the organization of urban environmerits. light. 1969e). Urban form (and whole landscapes) can thus be interpreted. The reason. is that images and schemata play a major role in the interpretation of the stimulus properties of the environment. of course. Consider two such types-urban space and vernacular design. and the result. made with great force for a whole generation of architects and architectural students in connection with Renaissance churches. 1962). Hence the differential impact of past or future orientation on English as opposed to U. more generally. as well as the preliterate examples described in point 1above. the lesson seems to have been soon forgotten. and so forth-even to pain. recreation.This applies not only to built environments but to standards for temperature. Many more examples could be given. to be in the perceptual realm-but to be important sources of meanings and associations expressing important ideas of neoplatonic philosophy (Wittkower. landscapes and cities. In other cultures health. sound.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. and cities in those cultures can be understood only in such terms. Wittkower's (1962) point about Rennaissance churches is applicable not only to various high-style buildings. Regarding urban space. when they were shown not to be based on purely "aesthetic" consideration-that is. in the United States and Mexico. must be evaluated in terms of the meanings they had for their designers and users a t the time of their creation. Urban Space. it can be pointed out that since sociocultural determinants are the primay (although not the sole) determinants of such organizations. "humanism. but also to space organization on a larger scaleregions and cities (or. in New England and the Virginias in the United States. 1953). 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.S. but the principal point is that historical high-style examples. even though its significance seems clear for various types of environments.Unfortunately. In many traditional cultures sacred schemata and meanings are the most important ones. settlements)." egalitarianism. Hence the widely differing nature of settlements and cultural landscapes in Spanish and Portuguese South America. it follows that meaning must play an important role in mediating between the stimulus properties of the environment and human responses to it (Rapoport. This point was. .

Wlthout elaborating these points any further. and the very definition of a city. sacred buildings or shrines have been important carriers of particular kinds of meanings-although not the only ones. In the case of preliterate andvernacular design similar points need to be made. Yet even among the vernacular buildings themselves it can be shown that. Among the latter. that is. trees. since it is the sacred that gives meaning to most things. I would just add that further work has only strengthened. In fact. groves. although clearly the specifics vary. and elaborated these arguments about the primacy of meaning in the understanding of settlement form (see Kapoport. in other words. meaning plays a most important role. one can hardly understand such buildings or the larger systems of which they form a part without considering meaning. 1979c. Second. the presence or absence of civic pride. 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. from Plato through Botero to the Utopian cities of our own day. reinforced. 1976a. hills. rocks. and so on). The centrality of schemata and images encoded in settlements and bearing meaning is constant. Yet even in those situations there were areas of special sanctity-landscapes. what varies is the specific meaning or schema emphasized or the elements used to comrnunicate this meaning (Rapoport 1969e: 128-131). This also explains the different role of cities in various cultures.The Importance of Meaning 29 over long time periods. the varying urban hierarchies. waterholes-or sacred built environments of some sort. among vernacular buildings o n e finds cues that indicate that there are buildings having differing degrees of importance or sanctity. 1 9 7 7 . first. 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. for example. a vehicle for expressing complex meanings. forthcoming a). which elements are needed before a settlement can be accepted as a city. rivers. of discussing the city as an ideal. 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. between sacred and profane is far less marked than in contemporary situations. This also helps explain the transplanting of urban forms by colonial powers as well as by various immigrant groups. 1 9 7 9 b . among vernacular buildings there are . In the case of traditional vernac:ular tile distinction. 1969e: 131-135). VernacularDesign.

(4) In evaluating student halls of residence. 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. (3) In U. but the aesthetic conflict mainly has to d o both with the meaning of style and with the deviation from the norm. Such cues can consist of any form of differentiation that marks the buildings in question as being in some way distinctive. status. when other buildings are whitewashed. 1969c. and its positive or negative symbolic aspects or meanings (Davis and Roizen. 1968b). It is the meaning of the subtle differences within an accepted system that is important in communicating group identity. see Figure4). houses must not be too different-a modern house in an area of traditional houses is seen as an aesthetic intrusion. it may be size. 1969c. 1968b).S. the use of color. suburbs. 1981.30 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT sacred buildings.that is. 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. 1979a.1978a. reinforced. 1973. and elaborated these arguments about the importance of meaning(see Rapoport. the associations . Where buildings are colored it may be the absence of color-where they are not. In the case of vernacular design. 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. it may be the use of whitewash. 1981). and other associational aspects of the environment while accepting the prevailing norms (see Rapoport. This also applies to excessive uniformity. 1978c. the cues that communicate these varying degrees of importance or sanctity among vernacular designs tend to be rather subtle. as for urban space. 1970). as in one legal suit that argued that a particular house was too similar to the one next door (Milwaukee Journal. it may be the absence ofwhitewash-where they are not whitewashed. degree of modernity or degree of archaism. 1976b. 1977). 1980b. it seems clear that later work has greatly strengthened. although they d o differ from the corresponding highstyle equivalents (Rapoport. At the same time. The importance of associational aspects continues in our own culture-even if the specific variables involved may have changed. and even explains particular perceptual features (see Rapoport. and so on). 1975a. shape. 1977. decoration (or its absence). or many other cues (Rapoport. the general image.


The perception of these dwelling forms as bad had to d o with their meaning. they are seen as a sign of growth. and so on. whereas suburban areas wish to maintain an image that is rural. respondents saw no contradiction in saying they preferred such dwellings because they provided "clean air" and. whereas the residents wish t o live in homogeneous areas (New Jersey County and Municipal Government Study Commission. 1966. (5) In a large study in France of reasons for the preference for small. particularly high-rise apartments. government people. it was found that the reasons given were based on economic criteria. finished up by discussing perceptions and meanings. 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). Yet.Two interesting. which seemed to be related mainly to the notion of "institutional character. 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. as indicating a heterogeneous population. 1966). it is the meaning of particular building types that influences policy decisions. compare Cowburn. particularly high-rise apartments. of course. see Rapoport. The meanings of these buildings are also seen as reflecting social evils. as symbols of undesirable people. for example.32 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT it had for students. complaining that washing hung out on the line got dirty because of the dirt in the air.. particular mixes of housing could be advantageous fiscally. (6) In a recent major study of the resistance of suburban areas in New Jersey to multifamily housing. destroys this rural self-image. Also." The important question. political scientists. The commission studying this problem. Many other examples could be cited and can be found in the literature (for example. 1977). they cost more in services needed than they brought in in taxes. in fact. 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- . detached single-family dwellings. 1974). later in the same interview. 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. In other words. 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. consisting of economists. The obtrusiveness of apartments.

It appears that the meaning is of act~vities their most important characteristic. meaning becomes very critical. value object. use object. 1950. Thus. and the meanings of the activity. more specifically. .11 LWAU NA~W' L 3-5 Fr. corresponding to the finding that symbolic aspects are the most important in the sequence of concrete object. even in "functionalist" terms. the distinctions among a n activity. how the activity is done. 1968. FIG 27) Figure 5 -- D( duced between manifest and latent functions and. associated activities. Rapoport.The Importance of Meaning 33 h. 1977). symbolic object (Gibson.

and specifically users' meaning. ultimately. 1977: 52-53). are evaluated in terms of the purposes of settings and how they match particular schemata related to particular lifestyles and hence. 1967: 1 1 4 . so that even if they are empty-that is." and so on-in fact. they are not s o used (see Foddy. Rapoport.and so on." "increase the space between units" (that is. 1977). culture. Similarly. while most people express a need for common the public open space in residential areas. like most others. Meaning generally. Such meanings. . 1977). They all have the latent function of acting as social and cultural markers.34 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT T o use an urban example of this (to be elaborated later). one finds that parks have important meaning in the urban environment. yet it is of central importance to the success of such a study. not used in a manifest or instrumental sense-they communicate meanings of positive environmental quality of the areas in which they are located (Rapoport. rather than forawalking around. it is because theseUincrease attractiveness. Their very presence is significant. lower perceived density).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. But the principal point has been made. has tended to be neglected in the study of man-environment interaction." "using for recreation.

for example. Moreover. . Meaning is also becoming more important in geography. 1976: vii). . 1976). also. in any case. the notion of meaning in terms of potential uses is rather ambiguous. 1 9 7 4 . and the question still remains: Which characteristics of environments suggest potential uses? Meaning has also been approached through particular methodologies. affective signs (which elicit feelings).It IS.However. . 1 9 7 7 . a few examples can be given. in terms of the discussion in Chapter 1. These are closely related to culture.lphor(see Fernandez. there is also an interest in the study of met. In anthropology one finds the development of symbolic anthropology so that the "idea of meaning. and symbols (which influence thought. Without reviewing the large and complex literature. 1978). proposed that the human world can be studied in terms of signs (which guide behavior). the potential uses of objects are rather extensive. 1974) and. provides an effective rallying point for much that is new and exciting in anthropology" (Basso and Selby. 1977). the study of meaning is reviving and has been approached. this concept has not been used in environmental research. particularly once one leaves the purely instrumental and manifest aspects and includes the latent ones.which deals with all the potential uses of objects and the activities they can afford.the development of structuralism. Most used has been the semantic differential (Osgood et a1 .THE STUDY OF MEANING There is increasing interest in the study of meaning in a number of disciplines. through the concept of "affordance" (Gibson. However. the third will be discussed shortly in a broader context.Relph. more generally.the first two of these can certainly be combined. yet that is neglected. to give just one example. . Tuan. In psychology. with the growth of interest in phenomenology and"placeU (seeTuan.

The widespread use of the semiotic approach makes it less important to review it again (see Duffy and Freedman. Bonta. 1970. More recently. beingl'experimental" in nature. 1975. Moreover. Choay. it is very difficult to study meaning in other cultures. There are also some other." (3) Using models based on nonverbal communication that come from anthropology. reasons that will emerge gradually as the subject is explored. who can d o it. the most direct. . and the most immediate and they lend themselves to observation and inference as well as to relatively easy interpretation of many other studies. mainly based on linguistics. these methodologies are partly independent of particular theoretical orientations of how environments and meaning are related. and where. 1970-1971. These. one could justify exploring others due to their much less common use. although related. to use already published material-all important in the development of valid design theory.These have been least used in studying environmental meaning. This is partly because these models are the simplest.' It is the third of these on which I will be concentrating. 1970-1971.which has spawned a great number of environmental research efforts. one finds the related but competing use of the repertory grid. 1973. Barthes. psychology. based on personal construct theory (Kelly. and ethnology. 1970. These are the most "traditional. These are currently the most common. 1955). very briefly indeed. Let me begin by discussing. to use evidence from the past. limit the kind of work that can be done. Such theory clearly must be based on the broadest possible sample in space and time: on all forms of environments. 1969. 1979. some of the problems presented by the first two ways of studying environmental meaning before turning to a preliminary. Jencks and Baird. it would appear that environmental meaning can be studied in at least three major ways: (1) Using semiotic models. and then more detailed. The semiotic approach Even if o n e were not critical of this approach.36 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1957). (2) Relying on the study of symbols. all accessible periods. For example. all possible cultures. From a more theoretical perspective. discussion of the third.

and so on. Similarly. other promising studies of meaning apparently within the semiotic tradition (for instance. 1979. have also had great difficulty with them. While this may be a personal failing. Greimas et al. nor does it relate to. Ronta. 1979) would do as well without those theoretical underpinnings. 1976. then the study o signs bef comes so broad as to become trivial. 19741). is also the problem with symbols. which makes much of it virtually unreadable. 1977a. Sebeok. Dunster. which is a particular case of the use of linguistic models more generally. Another criticism is that even when interesting empirical work on meaning is done apparently within the semiotic tradition (for example. semiotic theory. For one thing. 1 9 7 6 . as we shall see below. in that case much of what that theory is meant to d o (such as clas:. Groat. I have found that many other researchers and practitioners. Thus a recent graduate thesis on rneaning by a mature student who was a faculty member referred to the "rigid theoretical framework of semiotics. 19'70. such as cognitive anthropology. and most students. there has been little apparent advance since its use began (see Broadbent et a!. Wallis. I must confess that I personally find these aspects of semiotic analysis extremely difficult to understand and even more difficult to use. and many others [see also the International Bibliography on Semiotics. 1977. 1977.. 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. Rroadbent. Krampen. at the moment their usefulness is extremely limited and their use may even create problems. Moreover. 1979. stressin2 the latter]. ethnoscience.. Jencks. 19-79). 1979)--and this was . and some potentially hopeful examples can be found (Preziosi. 1980).it does not really need. 1 9 7 2 . 1979). Moreover. if everything can be a sign. cognitive psychology. Bonta. Broadbent et al.I 'f'lcation) is done better by other approaches..) While in the long run such linguistic models may prove extremely powerful and possibly even useful. It also weakens the applicability of the struct~~ralist model when one tries to apply it to the built environment. 1979. (This. 1973. One such problem with semiotic analysis. is the extremely high level of abstraction and the rather difficult and esoteric vocabulary full of neologisms. Preziosi.The Study of Meaning 37 Preziosi. 1 9 7 3 [although Walli: actually overlaps the semiotic and symbolic approaches. Eco. 1980. 1979. Yet I he use of semiotics in the study of environmental meaning can be criticized.

the property of the elements. Semiotics. Yet meaning. and their definitions. As a result. in my view. 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. would seem to be pre- . Generally. pragmatics-the relation of signs to the behavioral responses of people.In fact. characteristics. this. that is. special. deals with the reference of the signs and the system to a reality external to the system-in a word. relationships. how signs carry meanings. as those associational. semantics-the relation of signs to things signified. never really clarify the argument. and hierarchies (see o n e review in Firth. 1973). If we accept the view that semiosis is the "process by which something functions as a sign. icon. or attributes. then. signal. the study of structure of the system. it would appear that designers will encounter serious problems with such approaches and will resist tackling the important topic of meaning. They are: syntactics-the relationship of sign to sign within a system of signs. and symbol. can also be understood as comprising three major important components. that is.38 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT about one of the more readable efforts. their meaning." and hence that semiotics is the study of signs. these. their effects of those who interpret them as part of their total behavior. 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. discussions of this apparently simple point can become almost impossible to follow. and symbol as opposed to sign. sociocultural qualities encoded into environmental elements. meaning has been regarded as a relatively unimportant. that is. and utilitarian form of significance. in semiotics. help us both in understanding some of the problems with semiotics and in taking us further. and never help in the understanding of environmental meaning. as the study of the significance of elements of a structured system.

we need to know that in one culture the sowing is important and the singing is recreational. and running. Thus in one case sowing is the critical thing. . attention paid to the semantic-but hardly any at all to the pragmatic. the singingis sacred and ensures fertility and good crops-the sowing is secondary. in terms of our concern with the interpretation of how ordinary environments communicate meanings and how they affect behavior. the pragmatic aspects are the most important. In a sense. 1976~1. the most abstract. the element comf municating that meaning. a clearing becomes the cue. and behavior. attitudes. Alternatively. preferences.The Study of Meaning 39 cisely the most interesting question. 1969d). at least in the initial stages. that they can best b e understood and studied. in the other. 1969c. Yet. if we see a group of people standing around. they may be doing one of many things. in a heavily forested area. it is the embeddedness of the elemenfs (and their meanings) in the context and the situation that are importantand that will be elaborated later. be the starting point. Another major problem. in the other. Thus it becomes important to define the situation and situational context and to realize that these are culturally defined and learned. Yet it is by examiningwhich elements function in what ways in concrete situations. that is. 1977). We observe groups of people singing and sowing grain in two different cultures. rather than o n la parole-which is what any given environment represents and which should. yelling. how they influence emotions. There has been some. with semiotic analysis is that it has tended to concentrate on the syntactic level. therefore. It is not much use studying deep grammar when one wishes to understand what particular people are saying. This frequently has to d o with the establishing of place. and is often indicated by the contrast between the presence of trees and their absence. in any case. At that level. This book is precisely about this-about pragmatics. one could argue that the stress has been on la langue. The situation and the context explain the events. At this point. Consider an environmental example-the important meaning communicated through the contrast of humanized and nonhumanized space (Rapoport. knowing that it is a baseball game will put a different cnnstruciion on the meaning of the actions. on a treeless plain a tree o r group o trees is the cue (see Figure 6). let me give an example I have used before (Rapoport. although not enough. In order t o know the importance of these two activities to the people concerned. the singing. However.

In a town of mud brick in the Peruvian Altiplano the use of whitewash. landscape that covers most of the land and is believed full of crime and dangerous gangs. I believe. Alternatively. it can be the use of natural materials. . reinforced by size. such as size. a freestanding building contrasting with clustered buildings. the use of domes. the figure/ground relations have. In these terms a steeple marking a small. in Apulia (Southern Italy). such as stone. is the equivalent of a small remnant of unspoiled forest in an urban. it may be the use of color (as in some of the Cycladic islands of Greece). as it were.40 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Figure 6 The reversals between the relative meaning of town (good) and forest (wild. domes. in Ostuni or Locorotondo. The context of each is quite different. polychromy in the domes. changed. can. see Tuan. In that case the cue is also reinforced by other cues. also be interpreted partly in terms of context.while they have to d o with changing values. special elements such as classical doorways or columns. to achieve the requisite redundancy (see Figure 8). and s o on. marks a special place-a church. in addition to a pitched roof contrasting with flat roofs. or at least urbanized. bad) s o common in early colonial America and the present meaning of forest (good) and town (bad. full of wild animals and unfamiliar and potentially dangerous Indians.In the case of a settlement that is largely whitewashed. dark and scary. white town in its clearing of fields among the apparently endless forest. the same cues are used to identify the church. 1974). location. and so on. reinforced by an arched door and a small bell tower. In Taos Pueblo. and the use of a surrounding wall and gateway (see Figure 7).

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








M J t ( ~ W A W ,.jhULLYhle, I~~ECCL(LAFZ$N



*? %o


Flgure 8

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



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

who is welcome. see Turner. and in some views much of human behavior generally. although it seems to be exacerbated by relying on the notion of "symbol. In this case correspondence is arbitrary and any part may stand for the whole. These problems have to d o with the common distinction between signs andsymbols. consistent. they have a one-to-many correspondence and are hence susceptible to many meanings (for example." 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. therefore. explicitly. 1968: 17). without thinking. mismatches and misunderstandings then follow. the values and meanings that are expressed. 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. and what food and services are available at what prices2 The cues are as clear. There is also an even more general and basic question about the extent to which "symbolism" is a useful separate category. what level of "dressing up" is acceptable. and almost automatically what t o expect. and comprehensible as in a tribal society and. are supposed to be multiuocal. The answer. elicit very different reactions from various groups. Symbols. The question. that is. hence they have only one proper meaning. Seeing the relevant symbols. that is. is symbolic. such design is extremely successful and sophisticated. given that all human communication. is that the ideals incorporated in these images and schemata. and meanings held by different groups. particularly in chain operations. however. what behavior is expected of them. there are problems with this approach. As a result. in this way at least. eikonically or in other ways. This specific problem may. to have a one-to-one correspondence to what they stand for because they are related to those things fairly directly. images. of why such design is so strongly disliked by designers and other groups must be reiterated. 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. on the other hand. These are not shared and. chain operations indicate very clearly. also affect other approaches to the study of meaning. in brief. people know. Signs are supposed t o be univocal.46 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT models. that the problem is the variability in the symbols. that is. then. The result of this analysis is. in fact. Given people's mobility and the need for environments that can be "read" easily so that comprehensible cues for appropriate behavior can be communicated. Some definitions . are found unacceptable.

Even if it is like language. for example. 1977. food. to be s o general that. As we shall see below. the meaning of that symbol and what elements communicate that meaning still remain to be discovered. Leach. in fact deal with culture as communication. posture. 1 976a. o n e can look at environmental cues and analyze their meaning without getting into the whole issue of symbols. so that settings can be seen as expressions of domains (see Rapoport. 1976). and symbols that hopefully will reveal the patterning and information encoded in the nonverbal dimensions. 1966b). they are a form of communication (McCully. of culture.while discussing symbol systems (in this case from a structuralist position). 1976. while simpler. are still complex. physical gestures. we do not know that it is like language. The question is not that communication contains many verbal and nonverbal components-the question is how unfamiliar information is decoded. particularly expressive functions. then. 1976. which can.H e assumes that it will belike language without arguing this any further. Douglas. To say that A is a symbol of B does not help us much. 1966b.The Study of Meaning 47 of symbols tend. in effect. Leach. become fairly abstract (see. the same point is made by the suggestion that symbols are neither signs nor something that represents or stands for something else. 1976: 33-41). Many analyses (for example. quality or relation which serves as a vehicle for a conception" (Geertz. Schneider. 1976: 2). Leach tackles this through signals. furniture. act. since symbol systems define culture (see Geertz. Moreover. everything becomes a symbol (as in semiotics everything becomes a sign!). 1966a. Leach. rather. 1976). descriptive approach and . Basso and Selby. such as clothing styles. event. what used to be and is called symbolism can also be studied by the analysis of schemata and theirrneanings. 1976: 10). 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. basically. and so on (Leach. 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. from a different perspective. Leach. and does. we can begin with a simple. Actually. 1968). for example by using cognitive anthropology approaches.Thus symbols have been defined as "any object. In a way. music. architecture. cooking.In many cases. These in themselves. What concerns them. 1971: 21). 1973b. village layouts. 1966a: 5) and also as any "objects in experience upon which man has impressed meaning" (Geertz. signs. 1976).

Argyle et a]. Hinde. 1970. 1972. 1972. 1 9 7 6 . Weitz. or changes in those states . 1 9 7 4 a . 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. Harper et a]. While this particular study does not even mention the built environment. 1973. These suggestions are about the need to reduce the arbitrariness of symbolic allocation. 1 9 7 7 . 1973). 1978). common codes of communication (Schneider. indeed. Siegman and Feldstein. 1978. 1972. Ekman. 1975. 1979. The study of nonverbal behavior has developed greatly in recent years in a number of fields. 1 9 6 9 . 1972. 1 9 7 2 . The question then is how we can best decode this process o communication. 1957.. l 9 7 1 . 1 9 7 1 . in fact. particularly psychology and anthropology (see Birdwhistell. f The nonverbal communication approach While this approach will be discussed in considerably more detail in the chapters that follow. a brief discussion at this point will help in comparing it with the other two approaches. 1976). that is. about which we agree. and to try to approach the analysis more simply and more directly. 1967. Ekman et al.Johnson et al. 1966. 1976. 1 9 6 5 . 1979. 1969b. 1974b. The concern has been mainly with the subtle ways in which people indicate or signal feeling states and moods. Friedman. Kaufman. this implies a commonality of understanding. 1967. Argyle and Ingham. Interestingly. 1971. 1970. 1972. Ekman and Friesen. If culture is. Hall. 1974. 1 9 7 2 ... 1 9 7 6 . Argyle. a system of symbols and meanings that form important determinants of action and social action as a meaningful activity of human beings. that they are social.. 1 9 7 0 . 1973.48 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT get to structural analysis later. 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 major thrust of this book. are all notions that can be studied in other ways-notably through nonverbal communication. Scheflen.1968. Eibl-Eibesfeld. the basic point that symbols communicate. some studies of symbolism have made suggestions that I interpret as very close to my argument in this book. 1 9 7 8 .1969a. 1972. 1979. 1972. t o concentrate on built environments and their contents. This is. Davis. Mehrabian. that they are related to status and represent the social order and the individual's place in it. My approach will be to accept the task.

and there is even less stvess on mult~sensory. 1979. and shared habits such as the meanTone of voice. in many recent reviews of nonverbal communication (for example. what one calls nonverbal. and so on. Ekman et al. 197%). proxemic spatial arrangements. 352). and relatiorlships of participants all help to clarify the meaning of spoken language well beyond the formal study of grammar. they may "say" the same thing or contradict each other. 1 9 7 9 . a wide variety of body positions and postures. sounds. emphasis added). vocally.. Note that in the study of manenvironment interaction itself. temporal rhythms. and s o on. although auditory. multichannel perception (Rapoport. tactile (Kaufman. Thus one finds that nonlinguistic somatic aspects of speech (paralanguage)greatly clarify spoken language. 1969a). this has tended to be neglected (see Weitz. are the most important in the sense that they are the most immediately noted. Verbal and vocal behavior is received by the auditory sense. 1980: 74. stances. on the face of it. which are. it has been suggczsted that the sociocontextual aspects of communication. however. voice. and nonverbal-act together. gaze. they are the "louclest" (Sarles. Sieg- . fac~al ing of relative physical positions. olfactory (Largey and Watson. that is. expressions. all three-verbal. 1980). and nonverbally. that is. vocal. an analogous situation obtains: The visual channel has been stressed almost to the exclusion of all others. structure. 1976). The interest has been on their meta-communicative~function and its role in changing the quality of interpersonal rela*tions.The Study of Meaning 49 or moods. so far. while nonverbal behavior tends to be perceived mainly visually. such as environmental perception.particularly in view of evidence that even language may be more iconic. reinforce or weaken the message. I would argue that one such channel is the built environment Yet. 1969). In fact. 4). In any case. Be that as it may. 1971). forms of co-action. It hiis been pointed out quite clearly that people communicate verbally. Verbal behavior is much more codified and used more "syn~bolically" than either vocal or nonverbal behavior It thus seems incorrect. to argue that "language dominates all sign systems" (Jencks. 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. than had been thought (Landsberg. and the like. gestures. 1977: ch. although. of course.It is thus necessary to study avariety of otherchannels. Studied have been the face and facial expressions. touch. and hence related to nonlinguistic reality.and other sensory cues may be involved-basically it is multichannel (see Weitz.

there is nothing on the built environment. even in the study of nonverbal behavior. the relationship is very direct and "real)' environments both communicate meanings directly and also aid other forms of meaning. looking for relationships between particular nonverbal cues and the situation. 1978. extremely microscale level. and even clothing and settings have tended t o be ignored (see Friedman.. the stress has often been on its nature as a "relationship language" (Ekman and Friesen. and so on . or the situations themselves. interaction. In nonverbal communication research. one finds scattered mentions of the built environment (see Kendon et al. 1965. At best. it is confined to space organization at the interpersonal. on syntactics. The concept of nonverbal communication in the environment can be used in at least two different ways. 1967) or how kinesic signals structure conversations among children (De Long. looking forthe underlying system or set of rules somewhat analogous to language. or by stressing pragmatics. 1974). for example by indicating the ends of verbal statements. One can also study the amount of information provided by different cues-for example. Even if the role of the environment is not ignored. The first is in the sense of analogy or metaphor: Since environments apparently provide cues for behavior but d o not do it verbally. there has always been m6re awareness of pragmatics-both conceptually and methodologically there has always been a "simpler" approach rooted in pragmatics. They also greatly help in co-action. the links between different forms of communication have been studied by observing (or recording on film or videotape) cues and then making inferences. 1979). 1968: 180-181). because nonverbal behavior lacks the linearity of language. Ekman and Friesen.. Harper et al. The second is more directly related to what is commonly considered nonverbal behavior. 1978. Yet. 1979).that is. In that sense. Nonverbal cues not only themselves communicate. how head and body cues communicate affect(Ekman. For example. by getting people to interpret photographs of situations. communication. 1975). it follows that they must represent a form of nonverbal behavior. communication. proxemic. There are also methodological suggestions here for the study of environmental meaning. Unfortunately. Weitz. and coaction. they have also been shown to be very important in helping other.50 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT man and Feldstein. There has always seemed to be an awareness that nonverbal communication could be studied either structurally. mainly verbal. the ongoing behavior.

but guesses can be good if the cues add up In other words. 1973).. 1969). however. In making judgments. A role would also be played by people's readiness to make such guesses. 1977: 1 1 7 . and a person's willingness to make discriminations (his or her criterion state) on the other. This can be difficult. s o are contexts-they help in drawing inferences from abiguous cues.The Study of Meaning 51 (Duncan. therefore. need a great deal of inference. of course. Most such cues. 150)--the criterion state. It also follows that since environments are inherently ambiguous. Thus environmental meaning. and hence thresholds. has been unfortunate. Stnce all environmental cues are inherently ambiguous to an extent-that is. two elements play a role--the nature of the stimuli and observer sensitivity on the one hand. 1977). and appropriate contexts (Rapoport. as we shalA see. Even in the case of body language. clear. they need to manipulate those aspects they can control: redundancy. n. 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. At the same time. This suggests that the insights of signal detection theory may usefully be applied to this type of analysis (see Daniel et al. the observer's willingness to act on the basis of "weak" or ambiguous cues. it is not "syntagmatic")..This argues that all perception involves judgments. Murch. due to the ambiguity of cues their redundancy must be great-as I have argued elsewhere regarding the environment (Rapoport. they more closely resemble nonverbal communication than they d o language. 1977). probably does not allow for a clearly articulated set of grammatical (syntactic) rules. becomes significant. are still important. The stress. is likely to lack the linearity of language (in semiotic terms. . signal strength and clarity.d. there is uncertainty (see Rapoport. Environmental meaning. 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. Hence nonverbal analysis provides a more useful model than does language. on the linguistic approach. if it is to be studied as a form of nonverbal communication. the analyses also needed to be different (Ruesch and Kees. 1956: 189). Thus in the study of nonverbal behavior both approaches have been used. noticeable differences. however. Since designers cannot change the criterion state. with its high level of abstraction.

1 9 4 1 . 1979). 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. the overlap between ethology and human nonverbal communication studies is very close.. stressing semantics and pragmatics. Morris et al. The first step is to describe the repertoire. In ethology. gestures (Efron. linguistics began with dictionaries.1972).body movement(Davis. In any case. intended receiver. These follow from the fact that in any communication process certain elements are essential (see Hymes. 1972). by definition. and other types of nonverbal cues.proxemics (Hall. 1972. then. seems potentially both more useful and more direct. 1966). than a linguistic approach stressing structure and syntactics. so have ethological studies. It is possible that "dictionaries" can be developed. 1970. therefore. But it is frequently forgotten that in linguistics lexicons exist because of the efforts of descriptive linguists over long periods of time. different as they seem to be. step is to record repertoires and construct catalogues of behaviors-much as I a m advocating here. do have a number of general characteristics in common. and critical. the view has been that a priori o n e cannot decide what to record and what to ignore: The important aspects are unknown. such an effort. inform subsequent research. 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. particularly at the beginning. the data themselves. This is what nonverbal studies have tended to do. as has been the case in the study of facial expressions (Ekman et al. place. If we wish to study meaning in its full. the behavior ethologists study is. 1975). kinesics (Birdwhistell. natural context. naturally occurring phenomenon.3For one thing. Both conceptually and methodologically. Ekman and Friesen. we need to begin with the whole. It may be useful. Note that all of these three approaches to the study of meaning. nonverbal!! It is thus quite appropriate and significant that in ethology the first.52 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Environments and nonverbal communication also lack the clearcut lexicons with indexical relationships to referents that language possesses.. the intended meaning .

a given This commonality links the three approaches described at a high level of generality. it may be possible to move to the use of linguistic models. o n e does not preclude the others. ~t by my says. review the literature on ethology generally or on its relat~ono not. t humans or tts relevance t o man-environment research . however. environmental meaning has not been studied using nonverbal models. Notes 1 Note. however. S o far. "The best surprlse is no surpnse " 3 1w~ll however. the existence of a new journal (1976).The Study of Meaning 53 (7) the context o r scene.came across s in l a postcard ~ s s u e d Holiday Inn that ~llustrates argument perfectly In brg letters. It suggests that in starting the study of environmental meaning through the use of nonverbal communication models. nor has the analysis of nonverbal communication really dealt with built environments and their furnishings.1 9 8 2 . should this prove necessary or desirable. which is part of what is being communicated but 1s partly external to it-in any case.EnorronmentalPsvchology and Non-Verbol Behavior. whlch may begin t o redress thls gap 2 Whlle mak~ngsome ed~torial changes to t h ~manuscr~pt m ~ d . Eventually.


Disregarding the meaning of these terms. But one distinction that seems extremely useful. is that between what could be called direct and indirect effects. which will come up several times. but I found them seminal. 1966: 98-101. 1956. of n o interest to us here). and the validity and replicability of the findings (on which there is a sizable literature. with the effect of laboratory settings on how people perform in psychological tests. In the first (Maslow and Mintz. 1956). In these studies there were still two rooms. 1977). mien. these environments have some direct eftect on the people in them. but they were not "ugly" andUbeautiful. grade examination papers. 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. The best way to clarify this distinction is through the use of two studies as examples.people were asked to perform various tasks-rate photographs of faces along various dimensions. since they got me started on this whole topic. of certain age. and demeanor-corresponding to the room that was their .the concern is. it is found that human reactions and performance change in response to the effects of the characteristics of the two rooms: that is. Mintz. and s o on--in a "beautiful" and an "ugly" room. 1983)."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. 'There were also experimenters present-dressed in certain ways.245-249).ENVIRONMENTAL MEANING Preliminary Considerations for a Nonverbal Communication Approach In line with the particular approach described in the preface. Only a few pages of a large book deal with this topic. In the second study (Rosenthal.

in conceptual. and the like and through this they establish a context and define a situation.where it was found that the size. status. Generally in offices location. private/public. on further reflection it makes extremely good sense. o n e knows who one's interlocutor is. cues have the purpose of letting people know in which kind of domain or setting they are. 1959. furnishings. the main difference being that generally the rules are "unwritten" (Goffman. living room or bedroom. the clothing and other characteristics of the experimenter (which are.56 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT setting. distance. The process is. One can suggest that position. 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. in more specific terms whether a lecture hall or seminar room. universal. its location. In effect. In all these cases. controlled access. carpeting. furnishings and finishes. They all communicate identity. identify the situation and the context. number of windows. high status/low status. a part of the environment). men's/women's. and other elements of a room are carefully specified for each grade of civil servant. and act accordingly. once the code is learned. its furnishings. In brief. 1969). and decoration in offices communicate social information about the occupant and about how . "good" or "ordinary" shop or restaurant.1963)-whereas in the above case they appear in written form in manuals. degree of personalization. of course. In fact. size. 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. taxonomic terms whether front/back. one situation was of high status. and s o on. The subjects read the cues. the other of low status-and these influenced the test results on the highly standardized samples used. That this is the case becomes clear from studies such as that of offices in the British Civil Service (Duffy. library or discotheque. 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. While this may appear nonsensical at first. An interesting question is what happens in open-space offices. and other elements communicate status. and is helped to act appropriately. for example. in fact. other sets of cues tend to develop.

they are based on Rapoport (1979e). they provide settings for behavior seen as appropriate t o the situation.this .as decoding it. 1 9 7 1b). a whole set o cues can easily be described for this one type of setting 'These cues provide information that constrains and guides behavior. It follows that the "language" used in these environmental cues must be understood. and generally have meaning. If the code is not shared or understood. People typically act in accordance with their reading of environmental cues.1975b. 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. This follows from the observation that the same people act quite differently in different settings. about private and public zones. the environment doesnotcommunicate(Rapoport. with relatively little effort. it is the socialsituation that influencespeople's behavior. f It seems significant that. but it is thephysical enuironment that provides the cues.If the design of the environment is seen partly 'en as a process of encoding information.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. then the users can be sc. and hence about behavior. A number of points that will be developed later will now be introduced. 1976b). This suggests that theie settings somehow communicate expected behavior if the cues can be understood. arrange these zones ve y differently. 1 9 7 1a. 1 9 7 1 . s o that status and dominance are much less important in acaclemic offices than in business or government offices (Joiner. influence communication.Douglas. Location within an office building as indicating status seems s o self-evident that it is used in a whiskey advertisement (see Figure 9). 1973. Business executives and academics. 1970b. 1973a). for example. In other words. 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. the code needs to be read (see Bernstein. 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.

behavior can easily be made appropriate to the setting and the social situation to which it corresponds. before cues . Figure 9 situation corresponds to the experience of being in an unfamiliar cultural context. when the environmental code is known.58 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT QMbi-b(h. Of course. culture shock. However.

elicit appropriate social behavior. which act as surrogatesfor their occupants and as mnemonics of acceptable interpretations. situations include social occasions and their settings-who d o e s what. ~ h symbolic interactionist approach to the definition of the situac tion can be summarized in three simple propositions (Blumer. Designers can. it is one over which designers have n o control. how. Once the code is learned. 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. which deals with the interpretation of the situation. although they can understand it. 1969a). The specific question to be addressed is how enyironments help organize people's perceptions and meanings and how these environments. and including or excluding whom. however. that define occasions (Goffman. Moreover. 1974). such as cognitive anthropology. the social interaction process. It would appear that the sociological model known as symbolic interactionism (Blumer. [This central point is shared by other approaches. [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. and after one has both noticed and understood the cues.Environmental Meaning 59 can be understood they must be noticed.ideas and some notions about nonverbal communication with which this book deals. In fact. This latter consideration did not exist in traditional situations and is a recent problem. People need to be seen as behaving in places that have meaning for them (see Birenbaum and Sagarin. offers one useful startingpoint for an understanding of how people interpret social situations from the environment and then adjust their behavior accordingly. one must be prepared to obey them. 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'. when. 1973). 1963) or situations (Blumer. where. or arise out of. In terms of behavior in environments.] (2) The meanings of things are derived from. 1969a: 2): (1)Human beings act towards things (both objects and people) on the basis of the meanings which these have for them. have some control over the other two aspects-they can make cues noticeable and comprehensible. it can be suggested that situations are best understood and classified in terms of the behavior they elicit (Frederiksen. 1969a).

As already suggested. Blumer (1969a: 10-11) speaks of physical. 1978a). Spradley. and abstract objects. the formation of habits. One answer. more stress needs to be given to the routinizing of behavior. is that this is part of the enculturation process inwhich the environment itself plays a role (see Sherif and Sherif. to be developed later. and modified through. both culture and social structure depend on what people do: Interaction forms conduct.l (3) These meanings are handled in. 1976a. It is this process that answers the question (Blumer 1969a: 136) about how acts of interpretation can be given the constancy they need. the notion of behavior settings. 1968. the interpretation is frequently "given" by the culture]. this is assimilated into a schema whereby these elements come to stand partly for these people and behaviors. to get a combination of symbolic interactionism. Rapoport. the cues of which trigger appropriate behavior. It does this through the association of certain environmental cues and elements with certain people and behaviors. which is one thing culture is about. these cues can b e used t o identify unknown people prior to any behavior-or even when the people are not there. objects indicate to people how to act. finally. Meaning is thus not intrinsic and interpretation plays a critical role [although. At this point we begin. 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. it is partly a mnemonic device. 1972. 1976b. It is the position of social interactionism that human groups exist through action. Rose. Tyler. . I would add. what is expected of us. most conceptualizations of the built environment stress this pointthat environments are more than physical (see review in Rapoport. social. that is. These domains often correspond to the settings of everyday life. This view tends to neglect previous tradition (what we call culture) whereby we are shown and told how to interact. social organization and culture supply a fixed set of cues. Rapoport. but in the built environment these are combined and interact. which are used to interpret situations and thus help people to act appropriately.Thus one acts toward objects in terms of meaning. and what the relevant cues are. In this connection the built environment provides an important set of such cues.60 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT various relevant domains and naming those. 1977: 8). 1969. in fact. cognitive anthropology. an interpretative process used by people in dealing with the things which they encounter. 1963. environment as communication.

however. 1956. at least. already discussed above). 1976b. and the behavior appropriate to apparently similar settings may vary in different culturc!s. stable. Milgram 1 9 7 0 . if people notice. This would not only make any social structure or cultural agreement impossible and hence make any social interaction extremely difficult. Regarding art. Without considering that any further. 1977. The fixed cues and meanings encoded in the environment of any particillar culture help make behavior more constant. the less of the content he or she imposes and the more is . and essential in any settled society (Blumer. 1972: 124)that the observer f does not d o all o the interpretation. 1980-1981). Members of a culture also know the settings and the situations with which they are associated. 1957). still d o fulfill that function-people d o act differently in different settings and their behavior tends to be congruent. they help avoid the problem of totally idiosyncratic interpretation. one important function of the built environment is to make certain interpretations impossible or. In effect. 1 9 6 9 a 17): Members o a culture know how to act appropriately in f various settings. and are prepared to "obey" the cues. In the case of our own culture (with some exceptions. elicit appropriate behavior. Consider theoretical suggestions from two different fields. that is. let us contrnue with our theme: the insights that symbolic interactionism and its approach to the definition of the situation can provide. different cultures have different settings. The constancy of interpretation is partly the result of joint action that is repetitive. environments d o reduce the choice of likely interpretations. to elicit a predisposition to act in certain predictable ways.Environmental Meaning 61 indirect effects of environment o n behavior. very unlikely-that is. and other important environmental themes-clearly the beginnings of a fairly large conceptual schema. Environments in traditional cultures have done this extremely effectively and with very high probability of success. the degree of idiosyncrasy has greatly increased. in addition to the psychological and cultural filters people use to reduce alternatives and information. properly interpret. Environments and settings. one definition of culture is in terms of people's ability to co-act effectively (Goodenough. Rapoport. The better someone understands a work of art. Settings. it has been suggested (Wollheim. in fact. making the process less certain and less successful. it is also likely that it would demand s o much information processing as to exceed human channel capacity for such processing(see Miller.

1974: 528). "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. routinized behavior that often is almost automatic. Once the rules operating in a setting are widely known and the cues . and the situation itself always presents some choice. 1974. but an appropriate setting restricts the range of choices (Perinbanayagam. consistent. 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.This is useful because this perspective inevitably includes a stage. see also Britten. 1963). some ability to redefine the situation. and the concept of culture shock followed by learning or acculturation parallels that of aesthetic learning. and the one on which this interpretation differs from Blumer's. This is the critical point. with the contemporary situation. 1973. 1975b. stressing novelty and in-group meanings. Once learned. Much of culture consists of habitual. The parallel to environmental design is very striking." If we substitute "environment" for "work of art" the parallel is very close. with a fixed canon and lexical (shared) meanings and great persistence over time. There is. 1969c. since the range of choices is greatly restricted in traditional cultures. 1963):The idea of "setting" becomes much more concrete. and hence a setting. the response tends to be more automatic. 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. Meanings are not constructed d e novo through interaction in each case. Goffman. props. with highly idiosyncratic and rapidly changing meanings. 1976b. forthcoming ). and uniform (Rapoport. and these constraints often are enforced through both formal and informal sanctions. always some flexibility. they become expectations and norms and operate semiautomatically. of course. In a more sociological context a useful suggestion has recently been made along the same lines that well complements Blumer's model. This also makes it useful to combine the notion of the behavior setting (Barker. 1974: 524). It is also instructive to compare the traditional situation in art. and cues.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. Such definitions are greatly constrained by enuironment.

and appropriate behavior becomes much easier. In this sense it reminds participants of a whole set of situations (Fernandez. development. it elicits appropriate behavior and proper responses. When clothing's role in providing identity and thus helping to define social situations breaks down due to lack of consistency. 1 9 6 5 . 1968). 1969. costume played an important role in this process (Roach and Eicher. the Aba Eboka. Duncan. forthcoming \. 1969'0). In other words. 1973). 1 9 7 1 . or miniaturized setting. and many other similar physical. For now let us consider clothing. modernization. appropriate behavior. it also becomes more difficult to act appropriately (Blumer. and other environmental elements (Royse. appropriate definitions of the situation. mentioned above. potential situations are more easily defined. 1979c. In the current context they must be able to operate among different coding systems (see Bernstein. all cultural material can act as mnemonic devices that communicate expected behavior (Geertz. variables. Traditionally. Thus in the case of the Fang in Africa. 1977). that is. In this connection behavior. and. materials. and design (see Rapoport. hairstyles. to interpret their identities on the basis of costume.Environmental Meaning 63 identify that setting without ambiguity and with great consistency. Front lawns can play a similar role in our culture (Sherif and Sherif. 1973b). Also. forms a setting for a situation that is a miniature of the whole cultural system: It is a paradigm. these then elicit appropriate meanings (Douglas. hairstyles. In fact. . and other simiiar elements can also elicit appropriate behavior in similarwa!ls. 1 9 7 1 . rapid culture change. This is important: When people can be identified as to type. so can location. vegetation. areligious structure for the syncretic religion known as the Buiti cult. This last point will be discussed later in more detail. and the like can lead to extreme difficulties in this domain and thus constitute a variable to be considered in policymaking. planning. such people are no longer fully strangers (Lofland. as well as behavioral. Werthman.and this compounds the problem: Operating in pluralistic contexts can be very difficult indeed. Fernandez. 1 9 7 4 . 1974: 524). as did facial scars. clothing. 1 9 7 I). 1963. By recreating a setting that is disappearing in its fullsize form. 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. it becomes difficult to place people into categories. 1973). hence. 1977). 1973). people must be able to interpret the code embodied in the built environment. that reminds participants of a whole cultural system.

Johnston. Settings.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. meanings become idiosyncratic and nondiscursive rather than shared and hence discursive or lexical (see Hayakawa. Rapoport. people's location in physical and social space becomes more important-and is often indicated by the settings in which they are found. including the built environment. in broader terms. 1977. major differences between traditional (mainly vernacular) and contemporary environments. Ellis. they also tend to lose clarity and have less congruence with other aspects of culture. 1974). mode of dress was often laid down by law as well as by custom. Under these new conditions other cues. Environments cease to communicate clearly. they d o not set the scene or elicit appropriate behavior (see Petonnet. 1972a). at the same time that environments become more important from this point of view. 1 9 7 1a). These settings themselves are identified by various cues-if these can be "read." Settings thus need to communicate their intended nature and must be congruent with the situation s o as to elicit congruent acts..o n e finds.This also applies when knowledge of people (say within a small group).but the consistency and predictability of such cues is now greatly reduced compared to traditional situations. 1965). can also be understood as cognitive domains made visible. codes multiply and are thus unknown to many." and other similar devices cease to operate. become more important (see Lofland. Thus.While there are also clear consequences of cultural and subcultural specificity and variability (Petonnet. as we shall see later. in which costumes and other such markers had almost complete predictability. This conceptualization has two consequences: First. Under all these conditions. however. The congruence present in traditional cultures and environments. "old school ties. 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. accent. 1976b. 1972. To compound these problems. continuing relationships to culture and to psychological processes. 1974). environments also become less legible-various cognitive domains lose their clarity and become blurred. that tend to be neglected in the sociological literature. 1973. their intended occupants and rules of inclusion or exclusion become less clear. Second. there are important. such as the use of cognitive schemata and taxonomies. in Royce. 1972b. the rules of the organization of the environment- .

As a result they elicited the expected behaviors.Environmental Meaning 65 of space. in turn. and communication-have tended t o disappear. time. of reward and punishment. not least. it seems clear that the environmen1 plays a role. It seems clear that commonly much of this learning occurs quite early in life. and teachers. 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. with the ways in which situations were defined. one issue briefly mentioned above requires elaboration. I will also discuss the ways in which environments transmit those meanings that define situations and. influence behavior and communication. This is the issue of enculturation (and acculturation) and the role of the environment in that process (Rapoport. and with the rules of inclusion or exclrlsion of people. meaning. with the ways in which settings were defined. during enculturation. however. These rules were congruent with each other. 1978a). environments have traditionally had the role of helping people to behave in a manner appropriate to the norms of a group. While little research exists on the role of the physical environment in the process of enculturation. with the unwritten rules of culture.he role of verbal messages of parents. For immigrants and during periods of rapid culture change o r culture contact. caretakers. particularly since it is intimately related to the wholcb issue of how meanings and learned behavior become habitual and routinized. Today these processes d o not work nearly as well-there are major incongruences all along the line among various cultures and subcultures and. nculturation and environment The question is basically how those codes are learned that allow the decoding of the cues present in the environment. this process may occur later in life and is then known as acculturation. A better understanding of this process should enable us to make greater use of this role of environments. hence this book. Many of the points just raised will be elaborated later. some suggestive exanlples from varied cultures can be found (Rapoport. 197Ha: 55- . However. Like culture. The stress in social science has been on l. At this point. that is. Without such help behavior becomes much more difficult and demanding. between planners and designers on the one hand and the various publics on the other.

after all. dining rooms as opposed to eating in the kitchen. a clear relation between roles and various settings. 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. often at the preverbal level. 1930) and even demonstrated (Whiting. one could posit that order versus disorder. or eating anywhere-would also have consequences and effects on children's enculturation. 1971). by the presence of living rooms versus family rooms. the role of the dwelling and how it is used is primary in influencing small children. clear rules about the inclusion or exclusion of certain groups. we find the insistence on a front parlor in the rather small English working-class house and even in the barriadas in Lima. where space and resources are scarce (Turner. should be considerable. The relationship between these codes and the organization and use of the dwelling has been sketched . 1964) that children who sleep in the same room with their mother (or parents) develop differently from those who have their own room early. It has also been suggested (Plant. For example. All these things children learn during the repeated process of participating in such occasions. 1 9 6 9 ~ )In fact. 1976). it has been suggested that a meal contains a great . 1974). they have certain rules associated with them.at the same time. 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. amount of information that is culturally learned and can symbolize much (Douglas. and of the lifestyles and values they encode. The effects of such decisions. In other words. Similarly. occur at appropriate times. 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. include appropriate foods in the right order. for example. The distinction between such formal meals and grabbing food at various times is precisely the difference between the restricted and elaborated codes (Bernstein.66 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 56). It seems intuitively likely that those dwellings in which there are distinct male/female domains. occur in appropriate ways. or formality as opposed to informality-as indicated.Meals are. 1967). and include or exclude certain categories of people and behaviors. While many settings play a role in enculturation. social occasions that include appropriate settings.

mealtimes. 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. a way of classification. In one case the environment. She suggested that this would greatly influence the process of categorization of activities. If one accepts the view that environments are somehow related to culture and that their codes . each for a specific purpose. it becomes a mnemonic device reminding one of appropriate behavior. This referred to the possible effect on the conceptual styles of children of the very different social. as opposed to traditional classrooms-separate settings. that is. and the learning of such rules is an important part of the learning of culture. 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. 1973a: 55-56). the learning of certain systems. with simultaneous activities.Environmental Meaning 67 out suggestively and persuasively by Mary Douglas (1973a). behaviors. simultaneity or sequential thinking. in effect. In other words.and we would then expect different enculturation processes and results. and so on. work habits. the likely impact on the cognitive styles of children of open classrooms. organizations encoded in the physical environments of schools. different rules would be learned in these two settings. and s o on to that very extreme posited as hypothetical by Mary Douglas. 1973a: 191) and also expressed through them. lack of classification and nonlinearity. and in which each child eats when his or her schedule dictates (Douglas. or enculturation. In its most general terms the environment can then be seten as a teaching medium. behavior and rules about ignoring concurrent activities. 1973a: 81). and acceptance of social demands. with its label and consecutive. Once learned. The relationship of this to changes in the social order and consensus offers many interesting questions. As just one example-. In the other case none of this is demanded or learned-a very different order is learned (Douglas. linearity versus nonlinearity. in which e v e y event is structured to express and support the social order. imposes an order. The English working-class dwelling clearly embodies. encodes. in which each child's needs are met individually. specifically. linear use. will produce a very different child than one in which n9 such hierarchy exists.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).

A personal anecdote. with his or her elbows on it. He felt that the results supported his assumptions and he found the system most helpful. In turn. this learning influences the degree to which environmental cues can be decoded easily and behavior adjusted easily to various settings. and he acted accordingly. who had had training in social science. the relationships among all these are learned as part of enculturation or acculturation. contexts. in turn. The architect felt that these three behaviors communicated ever higher degrees of status and self-confidence. he . then the role of the environment in enculturation (and acculturation) follows as a very likely consequence. and situations that.68 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Figure 10 have to be learned. The architect then observed how entering visitors handled these chairs and where they sat. may help to make this clear. In terms of our discussion. or thevisitor could even lean over the architect's desk. relating to offices. including interaction and communication. His office was set up as shown in Figure 10. are frequently communicated by cues in the settings making up the environment. The topic of enculturation thus forms an important link in the development of the argument about how settings communicate meaning. This example concerns an architect in Sydney. Three possibilities existed: A visitor could sit on a chair in place at location A. since they are culture specific. chairs were always replaced at point A. he or she could move it forward part way toward the architect's desk or all the way right u p against his desk. Australia.After they had been used by visitors. is influenced by roles. The fact is that we all rely on such cues in order to act appropriately. To summarize: Human behavior. although clearly some people are more sensitive than others.

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. as. and other group processes (Michelin et al. a strong argument is made forthe high general importance of contextalthough I will use it.Environmental Meaning 69 clearly used these cues to identify the potential situation and modified his behavior accordingly. here again the different approaches to the study of meaning overlap to some extent. 1976: 212-213). conversational style. can best occur by considering all its occurrences in context. considered as pragmatics.seminars (De Long. being stressed more and more in various fields. Thus furniture arrangement. This has long been known from perception-for example. much less abstractly. Since all behavior occurs in some context. posture. 1961). kinesics. one can substitute "cues" for "symbols" without loss of clarity and do so for elements in the built environment. 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. This point has been made about symbols. The meaning of a given symbol or cluster of symbols cannot be determined simply by asking.Regardless of the particular formulation and approach. 1976). 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. and s o on and as being dependent on context. once again. in fact. the impact of context on changing the value of different colors. rather. In effect. 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. among many others. 1978). for example. status. Thus context becomes an important consideration for the study of meaning and is. and that context is based on meaning. Clearly.the study of meaning. . 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. in the case of various tasks (Sommer.1970). 1965). as in the work by Albers Size. it is necessary "to inspect the normative usage of A as a symbol in the widest array of possible contexts" (Schneider. The relationship between behavior and seating has long been known and can be intepreted both as communicating roles. jury tables (Strodbeck and I-Iook.. "What is the meaning of A as a symbol?".

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. This will have further differential effects depending on the subgroup at the party and the type of restaurant. depending on whether o n e came to it from a metropolis or a rural area (Wohlwill and Kohn. and quiet. eyeglasses. food habits. group membership. sophistication. furnishings. and so on. and so on is clear from the recent spate of books and articles on how to dress for success. or dirty. 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. ties.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. character. For example. These judgments include economic and educational levels. and success. clothing may have a stigma effect and thus reduce communication.The specificity of the recommendations also suggests that this is context specific-a suggestion that is quickly confirmed. and noisy. social position. safe. 1976). He stresses that many people feel that it is unfair to judge people by how they dress. or clothing. An urban analogue of what are essentially adaptation effects is the finding that the same city can be experienced as either drab or interesting. 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. 1973). depending on which cities were experienced before (Campbell. is often a result of judgments of others based on physical cues-such as dwellings. shirts. One consultant advises people. colors. 1980). at $50 per hour. Social communication and context Behavior vis-a-vis others. and other such variables are contextual-as in the Ames perspective room illusion and other optical illusions. That clothing communicates and is used to project quite explicit messages about identity. but it is a fact (Thourlby. heritage. the same town can be seen as clean. 1961). status. Similarly.70 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT height. it was held that this mode of dress would be a continuing visible communica- . their organization. social communication. consumer goods. and arrangement make a difference in the messages communicated and hence success in business (Molloy.

shape. decoration.Clearly. 1981). where . as we shall see later.Environmental Meaning 71 tion to the jury that would prevent afair trial(Hiz.When all these cues disappear. In the case of students in Britain. haphazard use.Dress indicates identity. religious. Like built environments. There were also proscriptions about its use-sumptuary lawsapplied to dwellings as well as to clothing. 1973). and so on and is used to communicate group identity. 1973). 1969b).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. This works much less well in modern societies. all of which are culturally variable. body marltings. and so on (much as in built environments). and to posture. 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. rapid change. clothing. and fashion and their meanings which offers a useful paradigm also regarding the environment. context plays a role. in other contexts the use of such garb would be appropriate Note also that to communicate particular ideological. dress has many purposes. status. Dress is related to ideal body types. in fact. 1973). the meanings are influenced by the setting. 1977: 40). Fashion communicates meaning by color. mass production. however.a process also helped by hairstyles.other purposes include self-beautification and magico-religious requirements (both involving meaning). Clothing was thus dependent on culture. 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. where meaning generally cannot really develop due to wide choice. value. line. For example. In all these cases. it was frequently prescribed for different groups (Lofland. Clothing generally has been used to communicate identity and has clear meaning. protection from the elements. an important form of context. 1965. and social stances some priests and nuns dispense with clerical garb altogether. There is a large literature on dress. wearing a tie (or not wearing one) depends on the context. But this very rapidity of change may. and many other variables (Rapoport. and the like and changes in fashion indicate changes in roles and selfconcepts in society (Richardson and Kroeber. and so on (Roach and Eicher. one of which is to communicate status (meaning). 1940). roles. environmental cues gain in importance. add importance to fashion as a way of defining particular elite groups-taste leaders (Blumer. texture. to activities.

function. also. the female as delicate and aesthetic (Wagner.72 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT dress style has important meaning. In social psychology. informal clothing will be read as appropriate in an informal situation but will be viewed quite differently in a formal context. one can argue that all goods and consumer items have meanings that organize social relations (Douglas and Isherwood. in effect.This can be interpreted as being due. these. or whatever. In fact. 1974). a conversational setting. 1975). an airport waiting room. They seem to communicate sexual stereotypes. a judgment is made whether it is"crowdedthat is. a cocktail party. the clothing worn and the context are manipulated together. that is. 1978: 279). and major. their latent. 1977: 87-88. 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. for example.) Subjective definitions of crowdingalso depend on context. the male as strong and function-related. where it may communicate protest. to establish or eliminate social distance. Most generally. If and when sex roles and stereotypes change. at least partly. to judgments made about the wearers. 1974). in turn. upon entering a setting containing a given number of people in a given space. new schemata develop. the cultural context will also play a major role.This also plays an important role in evaluating and judging educational levels or medical states. lack of care. 1979). one finds that the willingness to help others is strongly controlled by the setting and the context that the settingspecifies (Sadalla. other cues will. More generally. In the study cited above. Wristwatches also have latent meanings quite independent of their role in showing time. help define the context. to express conformity. are context specific. in fact. 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. this is. Thus bright clothing worn by experimental subjects led to greater personal distance (Nesbitt and Steven. For example.. 1972). even self-definition can depend on context!!! (See Shands and Meltzer. protest. in a Southern California amusement park the bright clothing probably had less effect than it would have had in a variety of other situations. too. subjectively uncomfortable-or not. dependingon the appropriateness in terms of an identfication of the situation through a set of . or whatever (Desor. the decoding of these meanings will change and one can predict changes in watch styles and in their meanings-that is. This is particularly significant for our discussion since. or ignorance.

learning. that it makes it easier to make reliable judgments about ambiguous stimuli. 1973). the context communicates the most likely schemata. it has been argued tttat context is most Impor. recognizing. context is increasingly stressed (see Giglioli. and s o on. 1965. 1977). 1978) In psychology this has f g psyalso been the case. since no human behavior ever occurs outside a social setting. 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. recognized. 1978). The resemblance to the action of settings as a type of context seems clear In the case of nonverbal behavior. see Barker. 1 9 7 6 . Hall. while the importance of context is accepted in psychology and is growing. In anthropology there has been increasing emphasis on context (see Spiro." "waiting room. nonverbal behavior. and remembered much better when embedded in words and rneaningful syllables than when they form part of nonsense syllables (Krauss and Glucksberg. the impordance of context in noticing. also the thrust of Barker's work. and culture all play a role both in the production of behavior and tts perception (seevon Raffler-Engel.In linguistics.The argument is. as we shall see below (for example. De Long. 1967) It is also quite clear that inference also increases and improves when context exists (Bruner. 1972). Thus missing sounds are restored in sentences using context (Warren and Warren." or whatever." "cocktail party." which provide the ability to match percepts with schemata. the context is the behav~or setting. and understanding various amb~guous cues in different sensory modalities is quite clear (Nelsser. considering the surround~ng circumstances or "situation " Similarly. 1971: 153). This is due to the presence of preexisting. 1970) and words and sounds generally are more comprehensible in rneanirlgful contexts Subliminally flashed letters are noticed. In the case of perception. At the same time. major interest in it is really only just beginning (see Rosch and Lloyd. that pragmatics must be stressed-that is. it is predictive.which is. of course.Environmental Meaning 73 cues that indicate "library. setting (or concontext seems important. s o that spoken language. basically. as in the cases discussed above. also. Thus the role of the soc~al text) is ext~emely important. 1978) The importance of context in terms of signal detection theory is. that meanings must be studled in contexts. learned "internal contexts. 1968) In that case. . of course.

the audience. such as the "shorthand" of professionals or the special speech patterns of in-groups. varies with context. ethnic group. 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. Different contexts elicit different linguistic usages. many of which may be physical. that speakers believe listeners share with them constitutes the cognitive background to the utterances (Miller and Johnson-Laird. based partly on the role. between language and social status and group membership (Trudgill. this is informal. but also assume certain cultural knowledge. It is pointed out that children learn not just language but socialspeech. context is established to a great extent by nonverbal elements (Sarles. in many others it is formalized (see Trudgill. 1974: 44-45) and the corresponding finding that different status groups have different environmental quality preferences. age. in Britain and the United States. in the case of language. but also according to the social context. Thus. language as parole. and s o on. Bilingualism provides agood example of context and of the potential relationship of linguistic analysis to our subject. 1973a) that the use of linguistic codes and the use of dwellings parallel each other closely in English working and middle classes. nonverbal (Cook. many of which. 1976: 125). This is also implied in the finding that there are correlations. Again. It not only varies with the social characteristics of the speaker. The context provides a pool of stored information on which both parties to a conversation can draw. like behavior. such as accent. 1971). the ability to elicit understanding with minimal cues. are physical and. 1977) This. This information. contextual and general. It has been argued convincingly (Douglas. such as status. These not only involve rules of appropriate or inappropriate (right or wrong) usage. 1969). and the like. The parallelism between sociolinguistic approaches to language and the approach to environments here being developed goes further. then. note that "native" or "stranger" is communicated by a set of cues. clothing. evaluating the same cues differently and. in some cases formalized and in others not. and so on. Language. which takes into account knowledge and perspective of another person (Krauss and Glucksberg. 1974). sex. if it is approached in terms of pragmatics. that is. this distinction is found in environments. In some cultures.74 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT tant in the sensible construing of meaning in language. not as langue. certainly. while capable of making social inferences by .

this process of reading occurs and how frequently novelists have taken it for granted. The actors must have cultural knowledge upon which to draw in order to embed messages in social contexts. rather than the formal. and others) and must be known. . that we are using sociolinguistic. novels. syntactic. pragmatic approaches to language. and the way settings are used in films. Clearly. physical world of perception.Environmental Meaning 75 reading environmental meanings. in the case of analyzing language. in these processes it is necessary to learn the cultural knowledge needed to interpret the cues-very much as. These may coincide at specific places. interpreting cues differently (see Royse. one needs to consider the cultural knowledge necessary to make language work. Frequently. 1969). 1974). In all cases of communication. contextual. While I know of no research trying to relate these two sets of findings. irk many traditional cultures there is a relationship between the noumenal world of invisible spiritual beings and the phenomenal. 1969a. almost instantaneously. 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. and can be discovered by various formal or informal forms of content analysis. abstract approaches criticized before. Once a group is known. 1 9 7 3 . For example. the relationship is rather likely as a hypothesis. This process can be quite straightforward. its lifestyle (in the sense of the choicesmade) and behavior can be observed and the settings in which activities occur can be identified. It is often done informally in descriptions. however. This cultural pragmatic context often provides the knowledge needed to relate perceptual and associational aspects. it may.materials. be indicated by various cues that can be learned (Rapoport. that is. which then become sacred. a simple inventory of objects. and the like. television. "pragmatic knowledge" is needed for such communication to work. Analogously. 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. This relation may be "invisible" to outsiders (as in the case of Aborigines. Eskimos. the cognitive background to appropriate behavior is provided by designed settings and the cues that communicate appropriate meanings. Jopling. Note. It is striking how quickly. 1977). furnishings. 1979: 33). however. one brief example has already been given and more will be used later (Rapoport.

Recall that we have already seen that designers and users. the transitions employed to reinforce these. if both perceived and understood. demands a knowledge of the cultural context within which the environmental cues communicate. Consider a more "concrete" example-the mosque courtyards of Isphahan already mentioned (Rapoport 1964-1965. Thus in Quebec. perceive and evaluate environments differently so that meanings intended by designers may not be perceived. Rapoport. porches. 1977). 1977). the knowledge how to behave. and so on. and to be elaborated later. 1957). at the moment. churches. such as the Boston Common. as a!ready pointed out. Similarly. what to do-a whole set of appropriate rules-to enable one to act appropriately and co-act effectively requires much cultural knowledge. forthcoming ). the impact on the development of Boston of neighborhoods like Beacon Hill and sacred sites. strivings for ethnic and linguistic identity. 1980c. nationalism. separatism. 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). and different user groups. Yet. 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. Note that generally this process works much more easily for users of "vernacular" environments in traditional societies. This learning for members of a culture is the process of enculturation. for outsiders (including researchers) it is one of acculturation.for example. given the . and so on. These communicate much more clearly because the contexts and cultural knowledge are much more shared-in degree of sharing. in associational terms (as already discussed) and this meaning. demands cultural knowledge-an awareness of the current cultural context. These can be experienced and described in terms of their perceptual characteristics in all sensory modalities. however. windows. In this process the understanding and acceptance of cultural knowledge and contexts are most important. facades. may be rejected (see. and s o on. This last point is basic. and s o on (Rapoport. 1981. and burying grounds (Firey. 1961). if perceived. so as not to misinterpret it. To understand its meaning. In those terms they can be understood as the manipulation of noticeable differences in the perceptual realm to define a distinct place. and. however.76 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1975a. not understood. extent of sharing. 1980b.

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. appearance. 1977). depends on particular cues. worked as intended in some cases and failed in others (Brower and Williamson. or even catalytic. Given the above discussion. they make certain responses more likely by limiting and restricting the range of likely and possible responses without being determining (Wollheim. faciliiating. based on clearing out the interiors of blocks and rc?placingthem with parks and playgrounds. It is most likely that a major part of this difference has to do with front/back behavior. identified with public and private and associated with appropriate behaviors. My interest here. 1963). 1974). Here it may suffice to remark on an experience in Baltimore. 1 9 6 3 ) can easily be extended to the communicative and mnemonic function of settings and environments. behavior. manners. 1974. Brower. which house appropriate behaviors and also remind people how to behave. the discovery of cultural knowledge is posstble and not too difficult." Clearly the appropriateness of behavior and the definition of the situation are culturally variable. They actually guide responses.whereby settings are identified as stages where coherence prevails among setting. they also predict and prescribe. considering settings as expressing domains (Rapoport. that is. 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. 1972. Thus. 1976b.1will have more to say later about these important cognitive domains. 1976a. environments are more than just inhibiting. 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. it is clear that in terms of the effect of environment on behavior. . Periribanayagam. however. 1977). The notion of role settings and the dramatic analogy of human behavior (Goffman.Environmental Meaning 77 approach here being developed. one finds markedly different behaviors in front and back regions. 1977) and considering the distinction between front and back. which lend ihemselves to very different behaviors (see also Rapoport. They not only remind.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. where similar urban renewal projects. 1 9 5 9 . 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).

as some students of mine found in Haifa. achieve the same effects by providing the uncertain traveler with certainty as to price.that the same physical space may become several different settings. 1 9 8 0 ~ )The consequence is that . Note. such as McDonald's. hence the need for cultural specificity. a soccer game. Similarly. mattresses. and s o on. Israel.78 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT and so on (Goffman. each with appropriate behaviors. which increase their predictability. a performance. and so on. in most cases when cues are noticed and understood people will . 1959: 3 . 1963: 21). adequate redundancy. A similar observation was recently made starting from a very different perspective: that fast food restaurants. 1980b. clarity. such settings restrict the range of behaviors appropriate in the setting. because they are legible-their meanings are clear and unambiguous.The rules linking these are unwritten. In this legibility the consistency of use of various design elements is most important in achieving a degree of predictability unknown since tribal architecture. to interpret them. service. and may be "tight" in some cultures and contexts and "loose" in others (Goffman. finally. 2 5 ) . Thus the same open space may successively house a market. in this case it is the people who elicit the appropriate behaviors. compare Rapoport. a riot. This has also been shown to happen in Hyderabad. other chain operations. 1979).It is here where inference becomes important. and hence eliciting different behavior that is appropriate (Goffman.In terms of my paper on the definition of the situation. and while they may be unwilling to act appropriately. language. successful settings are precisely those that successfully reduce the variance by clear cues and consistent use. such as hotel chains. the uses of settings and appropriate behavior can become difficult since their invariance is destroyed.1963: 190-200). food. strong noticeable differences. layout. if they perceive them. At a different level. India (Duncan. 1 9 7 6 . While they may be unable to notice the cues or. for it to work the inference must be easy to make and should be made in the same way by all those involved. In this process the users play an active role: They interpret the cues. 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. a single street corner may become a series of settings for different groups. are settings for rituaI behaviors with "an astonishing degree of behavioral uniformity" that may have been remarkably successful in producing behavioral invariance (Kottak. housing different occasions. and d o s o effectively. and so on. In general.

Clearly these are culture specific. 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. A rather interesting and very general argument that bears o n my discussion here has recently been made. draw upon the applicable rules. a culturalIy transmitted combination of patterns of behavior" (Peckham.1963.Environmental Meaning 79 act accordingly-the interpretation is restricted in range among members of a particular group sharing a culture. The requirements of settings can then be specified and the actual forms tested against them-and understood. and hence starting point. In any given . his conclusion is quite similar. Thus. 1980b. that is. classrooms. 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." Once the situation has been defined. after developing my argument independently-seems to fit the model based on a very different position. eliciting appropriate behaviors (Fleming. galleries. Rapoport. 1 9 8 0 ~ )Using the dramatic analogy. concert halls. this particular aspect-which I came across in 1978. or whatever (see Goffman. In effect. an audience. although Peckham starts from a totally different perspective. While there is much in Peckham's book with which I disagree. 1976: 49). and so on. This proposes that the notion of "aesthetics" be dispensed with and that. and a stage. it depends on shared cultural knowledge and behavior. in effect. 4976). tribal dance ground. The form of these tombs was best understood by considering them as settings for rituals involving actors and spectators. that is. in all these . playing a role involves a settingin this case one that defines the situation as "aesthetic. theaters. and the like (Peckham. 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. 1959. discotheques. cases we have an actor. 1972). restaurant. identify them and the relevant information. Both in the specific argument and generally. the appropriate behavior follows This is no different from the process that takes place in a market. classroom. people enter settings many times a day. and act appropriately. Note that in this view art objects are such because they elicit aesthetic behavior. The evidence is all around us that settings work-people know how to behave and are able to coact effectively in shops.

The mnemonic function of environment The environment thus communicates. and transactions by setting up the appropriate situations and contexts. as they can the other two: They can make certain that cues are noticed and. partly through increasing redundancy. These involve certain social conventions and form a cultural code. appropriate rules and behaviors may be incongruent with each other. there are shared. designers cannot influence this element. Clearly. or for cross-cultural analysis. also. and the people in them-that explicates the meaning. and if one is prepared to obey them (that is. The environment can thus be said to act as a mnemonic (Rapoport.80 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT case. 1980b. The setting. behaviors. the furnishings. Since the "objective" and"subjective" definitions of situations may differ. a knowledge of the rituals. the behaviors. negotiated meanings that follow certain rules. people tended to respond appropriately and almost automatically. Once the situation is defined culturally. and audiences and hence their requirements would be necessary to understand the meaning of the space organization and furnishings of such sacred spaces. in those contexts. are present. Also. read and understood. behavior is limited if the cues are noticed. 1980c) reminding people of the behavior expected of them. these settings are much easier to interpret when the actors and audiences. Clearly. This was one of my criticisms of the symbolic interactionist model discussed above-that the meanings are not negotiated afresh each time. understood. while permitting a variety of responses. 1979b. The possibility of refusal to act appropriately is a new problem that was never encountered in traditional contexts. In other words. environments cannot determine behavior since one can refuse to act appropriately). interpretations. partly by providing referents and "lexicon" items (as discussed before). their actors. in traditional (vernacular) situations more than in contemporary ones (Rapoport. the linkages and separations in space and time-who does what. constrains them. . cues are clearer and meanings more widely shared in some situations than in others: for example. 1979a. It is thus the total situation-the setting. once noticed. through a whole set of cues. 1980b. the most appropriate choices to be made: The cues are meant to elicit appropriate emotions. forthcoming ).

cognitive schemata. it makes behavior easier. as in the case of the Cuzco area of pre-Columbian Peru (see Isbell. . the setting"freezesMcategories and domains. 1968) These are linked. since environmental cues and mneponics communicate social information and help make behavior more habitual (Rapoport. physical and social. information is encoded in the environment and needs to be decoded." and s o on). it reduces the need for information processing. In effect. being learned through enculturation (or acculturation in some cases). By suggesting similar. 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). contemporary environments. or cultural conventions. It takes the remembering from the person and places the reminding in the environment. must be culture specific. this process worked particularly well. if they are to work. This mnemonic function of the environment is equivalent to group memoy and consensus. The importance of decoding is also due to the fact that i. and with whom. 1976a.t is intimately related to culture and suggests the idea that environments. and limited. this process also helps prevent purely idiosyncratic interpretations. This coding is also part of the general idea of ordering systems. and taxonomies that are very important-but these form a different topic (Rapoport. 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. but whole landscapes and cities can have that function. In effect. 1977). 1978).Environmental Meaning 81 where. responses. and behaviors that would make social communication and interaction impossible--or at least very difficult. whereas in many contemporay environments it works less well (Rapoport." "family. forthcoming b). one can routinize many behaviors and make them habitualwhich is one of the functions of culture generally. and this depends on the cues being culturally comprehensible. This is usually considered on small scales. If this process works. How well this process works can be very important indeed. since one does not have to think everything out from scratch. 1 have already suggested that in traditional. At the same time. In effect. when. particularly preliterate and vernacular environments. ranges of behavior. less cultural information (Madge. less environmental information.


Environmental Meaning 83 1977). can help define the nature of the objects found in it. artifacts as outcomes of cultural processes encode inforrnation. From our perspective here. 1976a. being part of the culture core (Rapoport. however. s o that any artifact encodes meanings. how to co-act. 1979c. 1975). They guide. help define the nature of the setting (on the difficulty of inferring behavior from archaeological data see Douglas. that is. 1976b) by workingthrough form (Douglas. I will return to the question of archaeology because the f decoding o it is significant. schemata. 1970). It is interesting to note that this model developed from reading a paper on archaeology. 1968). However.the setting. 1972. since it is the nature of the human mind to impose order on the world (Rapoport. 1976b. This I have called the choice model of design. once and if known. Hence thc conceptual similarity between an environmental (for example. patterns of behavior and those artifacts called built environments is that the latter guide the former. and limit behavior without being determining. where alternatives are chosen o n the basis of schemata (Rapoport. This works on two ways: the objects. Thus the meaning of archeological elements can be derived only if the context is known. where the basic process is precisely o n e of "reading" material elements. architectural) style and a lifestyle-both represent a set of consistent choices among the alternatives available and possible. and the like. 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. and the behaviors if known. s o that all goods are part of an inforrnation system (Douglas and Isherwood. forthcoming ). It thus encodes the template via a series of choices. help strutture not only environments but also many behaviors. a more important consequence of the congruence of. Thus artifacts give expression to cultural systems that can b t seen primarily as informational systems. the importance of "contextual analysis" has recently been stressed (see Flannery. 1979). 1976). and relation between. Miner. it should be pointed out that these schemata. 1977) that correspond to the notion of lifestyle as a choice among alternatives in allocating resources (Michelson and Reed. what to do. constrain. priorities. 1956). 1968). they remind people how to act. material and nonmaterial culture can be seen as congealed information (Clarke. In archaeology. we find maximum congruence between the meanings communicated by en- . When similar schemata control behavior and environments.

each with its special cues and appropriate behaviors. location. and visible activities coincide. where they are much less clear. the more likely they are to be noticed and understood. sign systems. eikonic signs. Choay. and the like all have unequivocal meanings In modern environments. and if decoding (understanding the cues) becomes more difficult. color. The first is the finding (Steinitz. This point has also been made by others (for example. This helps us to interpret the point made by Venturi et al. building form. scale. This is important in language (which is highly redundant) but even more s o in nonverbal or nonlinguistic messages. less clear than others. in fact. eat. 1977. height. use voice and body. however. 1980b). and s o on have had to be added and superimposed. has gone up and the number of message systems has also gone up (Rapoport. The appropriate information and meanings reduce information loads by structuring the environment (a known environment is a simplified environment) and by structuring behavior correspondingly. These eikonic and verbal systems work best when they are clearly related to the space organization-that is. explains the effectiveness of traditional spatial organizations in communicating . 1968) that when space organization. which. The other is that as the scale and complexity of social systems have gone up. which tend to be less explicit. In the same way we know how to dress. (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. and what manners to use.84 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT vironments and the behaviors: culture as habitual behavior. meaning is much clearer and urban form much more legible and memorable. the environment helps us engage in these behaviors appropriately. what can be done? One important answer is that by increasing redundancy. shape. We can see this operating in urban environments in two senses. many contemporary environmental meanings are not clear. as they communicate less effectively and surely than traditional urban and architectural spatial organizations. the number of specialized settings. 1 9 8 0 ~ ) . If. 1980b. additional message systems of verbal signs. In those latter. when redundancy is increased Also important is consistency of use. domain definition. more difThe ferent systems communicate similar messages. the likelihood of messages and meanings getting through is greatly increased (Rapoport. 1970-1971) on the basis of semiotic analyses. we also know how to use the environment-in fact.

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. Note that much of this is done through physical cues. that setting provides cues that they understand. it implies that settings communicate appropriate behavior In fact. what Barker is saying is that when people enter a setting. in environmental terms as in others. and hence what the appropriate rules. and the appropriate behavior. we cannot draw on the available cultural knowledge necessary. how o n e needs to dress. it is almost a corollary. the rules. that they know what the context and the situation are.Recall that a principal point of his work is that the same people behave very differently in different behavior settings. 1966) and for Puerto Ricans in New YorkCity in settings belonging to their own and to Anglo cultures (Hoffman and Fishman. in sottings belonging to different cultures. At the same time biculturalism. Much of what I have been saying is. play a most important-if not crucial-role. We only notice the process when it ceases t o work. It is the situation that determines behavior. yet appropriately. 1971). it is clearthat settings. are. This happens s o naturally. but the setting defines the situation.Thus a bodega. they communicate very effectively. They define behavior settings in the full sense of the wordmilieu and the ongoing pattern of behavior (Barker. that we take it very much for granted. particular names and signs define not only environments but what they contain-types of beds. in a strange culture (part of the process known as "culture shock") In that case. when we d o not understand the cues. In the latter case. But what does this different behavior imply? Although he does not make this point explicitly. and behavior. defining situations. This is. also the point made implicitly by Barker (1968). a Puerto Rican grocery store. the rules that apply. prices to be expected. what behavior is appropriate. and frequently. In other words. of course. the expected behavior-for example. the environment. during our regular activity systems. food. in fact. the Anglo work situation (and setting) .Environmental Meaning 85 clear meanings. that is. 1968). Traditional spatial organizations tended to be used in the same way in similar contexts and situations. Note an interesting point. an Anglo supermarket more Anglo behavior. In effect. is possible-people can act differently. elicits Puerto Rican behavior. 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.

the mission station. since the cues are clearly neither verbal nor vocal. from cafeteria to elegant restaurant. Aboriginal behavior also changes. 1974)and each set of behaviors could be interpreted as appropriate to the particular setting. These are special cases. Yet. decode the meanings. particularly since the environmental cues were quite distinct. is basically how we know that a setting is what it is. when in a work setting or a residential setting. In this case. Note that in these bicultural cases. As we move from lecture hall to seminar room. in a bush camp or a city. 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. in a white pub or an Aboriginal one. these children spend some time in a traditional. match them to the relevant and congruent schemata and cultural knowledge. The cues even act in a predictive sense: We anticipate behavior and. to this day. It is in dealing with this question that the nonverbal model seems useful. dress accordingly and appropriately before entering particular settings. There.86 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT totally Anglo behavior. second. The question. and act appropriately. The specific role of environmental cues is shown by the case of the Lardil tribe of Australian Aborigines on Mornington Island. The children behave quite differently in the different settings (Weisner. the different behavior in the different settings and. the role of fences as indicating places of transition and change. 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. as already noted. given the approach being discussed. agrarian sociophysical setting in the "bush" and part of their time in an urban setting. many times every day we enter settings and places. Two things may be noted: first. described as "the compound. that is. yet these behavior shifts do make the basic point. the particular role of environmental cues was not considered in any detail. in the early days of acculturation. and SO on. for example. ." was clearly demarcated by fences. These fences became places at which "bush behavior" ceased and the new codes of mission behavior were observed (Memmott. pick up the cues encoded in them. which environmental and social cues specify the nature of the setting so that the appropriate behaviors are elicited. 1979: 251). In that study. settings often elicit both behavior and the corresponding language.

. I talie three points of departure: There are nonverbal behaviqrs that are both extremely prevalent and extremely important. and informal (better nonfixed-feature) elements. once again.semifixedfeature. These comprise fixed-feature. the use of nonverbal models in studying environmental meaning involves looking directly at various environments and settings and observing the cues present in them. will not be reviewed in any detail. the extensive literature on nonverbal communication. nonverbal behaviors have been studied primarily by observation and recording and subsequent analysis and interpretation. affect. This discussion. 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). these both provide the context for other behaviors and also occur and are to be understood in contexts. by 1 9 7 2 . 1972) and the rate of publication has increased greatly since then. In order to keep it simple. This can be done easily and directly even without a major consideration of theoretical aspects of nonverbal communication. For example.NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL MEANING I take the nonverbal communication approach to environmental meaning to be something conceptually rather simple. the particular meanings these cues have for human behavior. some of which is becoming very sophisticated and some of which is also at a high level of abstraction. and s o on. identifying how they are interpreted by users-that is. which is the reason for using it. an annotated bibliography o n only some aspects of the subject contained 9 3 1 items (Davis. Basically.

At the same time. one can suggest that in any given case there are core elements (corresponding to elements of the culture core) that will persist while others. when they still tell us much. the ways in which these elements are organized (their spatial organization). do communicate meaning. location. also. this specifically proscribed the building of communal. more peripheral. Clearly. 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. particularly in traditional cultures. the dispersed settlement pattern seems more important than the dwelling. There are cases. Clearly. Moreover. Applying this notion to the Navaho. 1976. 1978). Among the Bedouin. 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. however. Pueblo-like structures and favored a return to a dispersed settlement pattern (Jett. and floors-belong to that domain. Even individuals living in Anglo-type dwellings often build hogans in their backyards. at the same time. sequence. Thus this settlement pattern both relates to the core values of the culture and contrasts with the other patterns around it. 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. language. other rituals. or those that change rarely and slowly. when in 1 7 5 0 a nativistic revival of Athapascan culture occurred. Most of the standard architectural elements-walls. it was marked by the introduction of the Blessingway as the central ceremonial ritual of Navaho religion. elements. arrangement. of course. and s o on. in any case. Interestingly.. but in all cases they are supplemented by other elements. 1977). hogans are typical of less acculturated Navaho and have. ceilings. 1979c. change (Rapoport. it is found that the settlement pattern seems more important than the dwelling (the hogan). and a variety of nonenvironmental means are used. not been given u p completely. forthcoming ).88 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Fixed-feature elements Fixed-feature elements are those that are basically fixed. their size. as do streets and buildings in cities. nonenvironmental. particularly for those ceremonies (including Blessingway) most identified with Navaho culture. although I have not seen any . For example. 1978).

They tend to form a given. as a stigma. plants andNwhatnots. With changing values it could be seen as a special place. religious. 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. Thus o n e finds U. Note that these become particularly important in environmental meaning in our own context. and the area as a slum. 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 . Also. hierarchical (Hull. and not negative. 1977). garden layouts and lawn decorations. however. and do. and the like While personalization and even gardens are controlled to an extent. ethnic.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 89 studies dealing with the meaning of that pattern. 122)-rather than geometrical. curtains and otherfurnishings. although the particular choice made does already communicate. window displays in shops. k probably has such t meaning. even by outsiders Similarly. observers make the same comment about Moslem cities (Rapoport. the people outside see ~tas negative. Most people move into ready-made environments and fixed-feature elements are rarely altered.S cities described by French observers as having n o order while U S. traditional African cities were often seen as disorganized by Europeans because their order reflected human relationships-social. What this suggests. which has important ideological messages for the builders and users (Barnett 1977). and other urban elements (including the verbal and eikonic message systems discussed above). kinship and lineage. regulations. 1 9 7 6 . where they tend to communicate more than fixed-feature elements. change fairly quickly and easily. occupational. Fixed-feature elements are also under the control of codes. advertising signs.The pattern of a "libertarian s u b u r b in California. These can. Semifixed-feature elements Semifixed-feature elements range all the way from the arrangement and type of furniture." screens and clothing t o street furniture. is that the ordering principles of fixed-feature arrangements have meaning. the control is much less than for fixed-feature elements. in and of itself. although o n e group's order may be another's disorder.

status indications are reinforced by the width of entrances. which are identical to dwellings in plan. and people to the setting that have meaning and can be "read. of townhouses as opposed to high-rise apartments. 1967. Also. these elements have been used to establish meaning from earliest times. and so on.90 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT forms of housing. Rapoport. Yet archaeology does provide a most useful paradigm since meaning must be derived from artifacts alone in making inferences about behavior. 1979a). when Pizarro first reached South America. Mexico. although some inferences can be made. An even more striking example is provided by the Ashanti Fetish houses in Africa. the use of porches consisting of roof and posts. about nonfixed-feature elements) is the rule in archaeology. 1976. one of the earliest urban settlements. one could distinguish between front doors (decorated) and interior doors ("modest"). 1969). never before seen. For example. This was because they were covered in jewels and gold. it is particularly difficult to read fixed-feature elements alone in terms of their meaning. Decorative facings were used differentially and seem to indicate status. in the case of ancient Tollan. Thus. with painted floors and wall plaster and decorative elements. 1964. Thus it appears that semifixed environmental elements are of particular importance in studying meaning in our current environment. If the "furnishings" were removed. in effect.This stresses the importance of semifixed and nonfixed elements. although we have seen that this presents problems. in Catal Hiiyiik. in Hidalgo. they are "furnished" differently and more lavishly than dwellings. but also reemphasizes the importance of context. and even decorations. and of the same materials. construction. and (4)the occupants (Swithebank. they would convert back to "ordinary" rooms and dwellings (Mellaart. At the same time. It is the relationships of these objects. Note that this was in a very different. of ownership as opposed to renting. Todd. 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. as the dwellings. and with . revert back to dwellings. the buildings would. What is different are (1)the contents (sacred objects of various kinds). behaviors. he "knew" temples even though they were the same height and size. (3)the activities that occur within." The use of fixed-feature and semifixed-feature elements to make inferences about behavior (that is. culture! Once these decorations were removed.

These zones could be crosschecked by accessibility criteria. Since the planned layout was clearly important to the builders. since a prodigious amount of labor and material resources were used to modify the topography in order to implement the plan. it proved possible to see that overall planning was involved. with houses with and without these status-indicating elements. the house groupings themselves. How meaning can be read from archaeological data is shown v e y clearly by the Maya Center of Lubaantun in British Honduras (Hammond. As already pointed out. All that was left were the stone bases. This difficulty has to d o with the problems of interpretation where many elements are missing and cultural knowledge is absent. the hierarchy is easily read.First. In the case of the Aborigines. the site could be read on the basis of its fixed-feature elements. that is. story sites. 1972. Where ceremonial areas had low accessibility. it suggested that these particular activities were confined to special. the structures f were classified into large religious. although this was greatly helped by semifixed-feature elements. one can conclude that the layout itself had important meaning. The specifics are less important than the fact that.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 91 spacious rear rooms almost identical to temple structures at Teotihuacan. as cities such as lsphahan or Marrakesh will show. the superstructures had walls of poles and roofs of palm thatch. On the basis o these variables.Here it is the presence of semifixed-feature elements that clarifies the meaning of the space. Miner. which were of varied sizes and heights. elite residential. since not only were structures around any one plaza of one category. as is common in archaeology. but centrality was related t o importance-a religious core was surrounded by a ceremonial zone and a residential-center zone. like Maya dwellings. In this case. in traditional societies fixed-feature elements communicate much more clearly. such as Australian Aborigines and the like. these rooms include utilitarian-nonritual-objects. Since. 1977). 1972). and residential. suggest social relationships. not only are important areas such as sacredplaces. providing another instance of meaning in terms of public/private domains. elite groups. It also has to d o with the existence of cultures with few fixed-feature or even semifixed-feature elements. one is dealing with a dwelling (Healan. 1956). and dance and initiation grounds often indis- . The difficulty of making behavioral inferences from archaeological data has already been mentioned (see Douglas. the meaning of structures was judged on the basis of size and the height to which stone extended Location also seemed important. ceremonial. however.

Lee. This may prevent "freezing" the environment. 1973. Among Aborigines. including space organization. conceptually. may be much more interested in decisions about furnishings. both house form and decorations were important (Fernea et al. as among other nomadic groups (see Rapoport.Yet while these behaviors occurthey can be read so that the meaning of spatial organization can be decoded and understood. 1978c). since it reflects sacred schemata. they also disappear rapidly. meeting in the center of a bridge spanning a river along their border. and the like (Becker. This is a photograph of two Latin American presidents.Therefore. 1969a). 1972). and most unsuitable. 1975a). hence they tend to be used to communicate meanings. even among Aborigines (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. it is suggested. without leaving their respective countries (Time. For example. 1 9 6 7 ~see Figure 1 2 ) . their meaning can often be read quite clearly (Rapoport. arrangements. 1979a). Users. the argument stands: It is possible to read the meaning of the environments. which has to do with the difference between designers and users. These could n o t . 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. traditionally. In our own culture. there is another possible reason why semifixedfeature elements may be more important. or the cues are so subtle that they are difficult for outsiders to see. new.it is also frequently necessary to keep spatial relationships fluid deliberately. Another. . 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. 1977: 13)-precisely those elements that are here termed semifixed. social structure. among Nubians. house and village forms were provided. then ate lunch at the precise center of the bridge. and hierarchy (such as among the Swazi people in Africa. Kuper. semifixed-feature elements tend to be used much-and are much more under the control of users.92 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT tinguishable from the surrounding milieu. both in domestic and nondomestic situations. Upon the population's relocation after flooding due to the Aswan Dam. Yet while these cues are present and these places are being used. Thus in our own culture. Yet they have been ignored by both designers and analysts who have stressed fixed-feature elements. 1979). Carlos Lleras Rostrepo of Colombia and Raul Leoni of Venezuela. to preserve avoidance and other interaction rules.. They embraced while toeing the border.

. shutters. street numbers. curtains. Fernea et al. 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 . the use of colors. 1969a. planting. furnishings. and s o on. In nondomestic situations. however.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 93 -Figure 12 be changed. 1973)-a suggestive point regarding meaning. in the case of domestic situations. In our own culture. of colors. and the like. trim. we find the whole range of elements subsumed under "personalization"-internally. materials. colors and other external decorations were changed immediately (particularly around doors. decorations. mailboxes. pictures. externally. Lee.

Very few longitudinal studies have been done. it was found that a particular "aesthetic complex" was developed internally. chipboard. lighting (internally). their contents. considering a group of Puerto Ricans inhabiting public housing in the South End of Boston. and some decorative window panels. it is a very direct and easy method to use. behaviors.94 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT of uses and activities through changes in the semifixed elementsdecor. one can observe gas stations converted for other uses. and so forth. cars. had meaning for the group. a "decorated shed" relies on semifixed and changeable elements. and other devices were used as ways of communicating meanings having to do with group identity. This consisted of the selection of certain decorative objects (often brought from Puerto Rico) arranged in certain ways. Increasingly. For example. The distinction proposed between "duck" and "decorated shed" architecture (Venturi et al. signs. Note that it was observation-of rooms. also has the economic advantage of being reused easily (see Rubin. people's clothing. and respectability-with "maintaining front" (Jopling. and the like.. decorations. This. for example. which communicated ethnic and other identity. a front door with decorative walls. that is. Given the fact that today most people move into ready-made environments. a gas station was turned into an Italian restaurant through some minor changes in a limited number of semifixed elements in plaster. Since external personalization was impossible. a sign. the use of specific colors.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. 1972) can be interpreted in terms of fixed and semifixed elements: A "duck" relies on fixed elements to communicate its meaning. cars. 1974). of facial expressions. and s o so-that first led to the notion ofthe meaning of the particular choices made. gestures. and body postures and relating them to the context of particular situations. interactions. housing. the use of particular furniture grouped in particular ways (space organization) and s o on. for example. the study of meaning will necessarily be primarily in the semifixed-feature realm. . in nonverbal analysis. In one case. clothing. Another example might be a gas station converted to a bank through the addition of a mansard roof (as flimsy as a sign). of course. This corresponds to the observation. 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. 1979: 354ff). and a sign and front door (externally).

Again. and kitchens as "hiddenv-were communicated by furniture and furnishings as well as by visibility. A great deal of room is needed to prepare the food." and lavatories. and the like clearly communicated the above meanings. Similarly. one expects to sit peripherally around the room. A clear distinction in meaning was found between eating as a social activity involving entertaining visitors and eating for nourishment. for the same ethnic group. people could not behave appropriately. cooking involves the presence of others. This was clearly indicated by the zoning within the living room. positivetnegative. where to eat. yet food appears as though by magic. In the case of the Puerto Rican culture. talk and interaction also begin (Esber. and provided cues as to where one should sit while entertaining and being entertained. types of furniture and their arrangement. and so forth (Kamau. the living space setting has meaning in terms of the behavior expected of guests.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 95 Similarly. During holidays. In the same study. Similar examples can be given from other cultures. status is gained during a party through a hostess being seen to produce food. " bedrooms as "private. Curtains over doorways. This meaning had clear design implications. 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. 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. as well as domains of mentwomen. in the case of kitchens. observation was the key to discovering these meanings. On arrival. a complex set of culturally specific meanings attached to different rooms-the living room as "semipubiic space. being seen in the kitchen. feasts are held that involve the entire community. In the case of the Apache. Without large kitchens and living rooms. bathrooms. which stressed the maximum possible spatial separa- . The cooperative effort and the social aspects and companionship are the important (latent) aspects of the action of cooking. far from others. but in New York City. a woman is seen as a good hostess when she apparently does n o work. 1978t79). and eating begins. with much social interaction (associated activities). The design implications were quite clear-an efficiency kitchen is unsuitable in this particular Puerto Rican housing because of the meaning of that setting. When food is ready. with no conversation. 1973). in Anglo culture. 1972). and "performing" in front of an audience of her peers. In Kenya.

The task in applying the nonverbal model to environmental meaning is thus to move from the nonfixed-feature realm to the semifixed- . revulsion. 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. this domain. The questions commonly asked concern what is being communicated. and many other nonverbal behaviors discussed previously. and almost entirely restricted to. they are also the women's domain. Note that the positive/negative nature of spaces reflecting the domains of men/women is found more generally.96 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT tion between furniture groups: matched sofa and chairs (unmatched = less prestige). and dining table and chairs on the other. and also what role these behaviors play in interaction. and is echoed in the correspondence between right/left and men/women (Needham. is done rather simply and in straightforward ways by observation of semifixedfeature elements and behavior-nonfixed-feature elements. arrangements. the study of nonverbal behavior has been developed in. volume and pauses. hand and neck relaxation. coffee table. Among bedrooms. in all these cases. or hidden. Again. In fact. and. use of a bedspread. it is the nonfixed-feature elements that form the subject of nonverbal communication studies. living rooms are furnished in specific and distinct ways in terms of furniture. and s o on. 1973). head nodding. resembling semiotic and structuralist analysis in some cases. Note two more things: First. second. higher degree of cleanliness. their meaning-so that these are critical in the congruence of setting and activity. speech rate. Nonfixed-feature elements Nonfixed-feature elements are related to the human occupants or inhabitants of settings. and therefore are hidden. Bathrooms and kitchens are regarded as unclean and shameful. and s o on. facial expressions. the housekeeping abilities of the women. their shifting spatial relations (proxemics). their body positions and postures (kinesics). end tables. hand and arm gestures. objects. and the like. these complex findings. by such behaviors as anger. we are dealing with latent aspects of activities-how they are done. or whatever. on the one hand. and the status of the family. eye contact. particularly. which provide information about the income of the men. associated activities. rank is shown by the master bedroom being larger and having a better and larger bed. colors. fear.

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-



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



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)

1969b. Note that not only are the elicitors of facial expression socially learned and culturally variable.What then is the role of culture? The model proposed (the "neuro-cultural" model.The suggestion is that in the case of facial expressions. which. the facial muscular movement for a particular emotion. The elicitors of these. surprise. and s o on. then. 1972. are due to differences in elicitors and display rules. Some of the different findings may be due to the examination of different activities. has affect and behavioral consequences in social interaction. although the elements of expression are universal (see Figure 13). and hence the blend. 1872). memory. when interpreted. 1972). deamplify or deintensify. In the case of the first two of these views. that is. which may have different degrees of cultural and biological components. 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. gestures versus facial expressions. Ekman. blend. but so are many consequences of an aroused emotion (such as whether it is expressed or hidden). The conflict between the two points of view can be approached in aqother way. 1972). and so on. At the same time. 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.102 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT (3) A resolution of these conflicting views in an interesting model that. the argument is essentially about evolutionary versus linguistic models (Eibl-Eibesfeld. seem to be nonarbitra y and biologically based (see Darwin. Ekman. pan-cultural affect program involving facial muscles and their movements in association with states such as happiness. These amplify or intensify. while rejecting the linguistic approach and concerned with how nonverbal behavior communicates feeling states. The cultural differences. or at least v e y widely indeed. if it is displayed (that is. recognized. Leach. expectation. actually incorporates aspects of both (Ekman and Friesen. interest. 1969b. These. for example. are culturally variable as are the display rules. or mask the affect program. Ekman. what is allowed where and when. fear. Nonverbal behavior in the nonfixed-feature realm involves origins. situation. 1972). 1977) resolves these two points of view in one way (the third approach above. however. sadness. This is clearly not a languagelike system. neutralize. anger. disgust. there is a universal. The outcome is a particular facial display. or how these behaviors become part of a person's . based on setting. then.


relationship to associated verbal and vocal behaviors. show more influence of culture. the further from language. exhibiting least awareness (notethat one can have objectadaptors-a potential link to our subject). for example. 1971). these tend to be hidden by the cultural differences. emblems-These have exact verbal translations. 1972. and whether the information is shared or idiosyncratic. Johnson et al. although the appearance of the behavior is like what it means. 1976) and are the most "languagelike" (Ekman. or most. 1977). the more the influence of biology . Usage seems clearly culture specific since it deals with the external conditions such as environmental settings. 1976).104 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT repertoire (which is not of major interest here). eikonic but extrinsic. 1969b). Thus emblems. the circumstances of its use. These tend to be studied using procedures derived from social psychology and linguistics. hand gestures): adaptors. members of a group. culture-specific extrinsic codes with no visual resemblance to what they signify. The argument about whether such behavior is innate. awareness of emitting the behavior and intention to communicate feedback from others. as in the case of adaptors and illustrators. Although even here one expects some commonalities across cultures. which is eikonic and the act is the meaning. Coding varies in terms of universality versus cultural specificity. illustrators-These augment or contradict what is being said. based on biology. situations. being closer to language than illustrators or adaptors. so that the sender takes responsibility for them. and arbitrary. or culture (or other group) specific applies mainly to origins. or culture specific. onethen finds three classes of nonverbal behaviors (for example.which tends to correspond to language as in the case of "elaborated or "restricted" codes (see Bernstein.. illustrators. On the basis of the three types of coding. but have less precise meanings than emblems. and are deliberately used for messages. and coding. varying in size (Ekman. most intuitive. Different groups have different emblem repertoires. the rules that explain how the behavior conveys information (Ekman and Friesen. adaptors-These are the least intentional. and is of three types: intrinsic. roles. and emblems (Ekman and Friesen. usage. pan-human. These can also be described as "symbolic gestures" (Ekman.with precise meanings known to all. 1975).

they therefore depend on convention. verballyalthough direct observation. 1972). 1972). some of the find~ngs significant for our purposes. still and cine photography. Apart from the fact that a lexicon can be prepared. 1970. distinctive feature.and gestures (Efron. some of these meanings may be in conflict in different places Some gestures have truly national meanings. One woultJ also expect emblematic gestures to be most languagelike. Recently an attempt has been made to study what are clearly emblematic gestures mainly through ~nterviews-that is. The gestures studied were assumed t o vary from culture to culture. others extend across national and linguistic boundaries. for example. 1979). and apart from are methodological implication. still others have boundaries within linguistic areas (often due to identifiable historical events). Since they can stand for abstract qualities. While meanings clearly do vary. are culture specific. It seems intuitively likely that body positions (Birdwhistell. and may be meaningless in some cultures. In effect. in fact. 1941) are more arbitrary. 1966). then. using 15languages. or emblems. illustrators. Gestures change with t ~ m e at different rates. This. and culture specific than facial expressions. and specific message of each. the case.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 105 and the less cultural variability is to be expected (Ekman. and the analysis of historical illustrations and descriptions were also used (Morris et al. and still others are restricted to particular subgroups in a given population. 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). the attempt was to build a lexicon of meanings by compiling diagrams of gestures both illustrated and described-the basic morphology. While these distinctions are proposed within the domain of gestures. Findings indicate that most of the gestures studied have several varied major meanings (some even in a single region). emblemlike. selective symbolism. facial expressions versus gestures.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. provides another way of resolving the argumentcontradictory findings may be due to the analys~sof different behaviors: adaptors. spatial relations (Hall. 1977.. particularly if studied verbally This is. Hinde. o n e would expect them to be even more significant across types of nonverbal behaviors. an examination of the . generic meaning.

The question. paving.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. details. however. etc. light quality greenery. or is that particular repertoire culture specific? A list of possible potential cues is easily listed(Rapoport. are these elements primarily adaptorlike. universal or culture specific? Within that set. the question is twofold: Is the set of elements constituting noticeable differences in the environment. order versus disorder .Among these one can suggest the following as being particularly relevant (although this is not an exhaustive list): physical elements vision: shape. decorations. one cannot. scale. then. 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). But one may examine some of the evidence and some of what is known in a speculative mode. and upon which the designer in the broadest sense (Rapoport. type of planting. or emblemlike? In tying to apply this model to environmental cues in the semifixed. even if the former applies. hand gestures-particularly these emblematic ones-seem more variable than facial expressions. color. Thus as one moves from facial expressions and adaptors through illustrators to emblems.and fixed-feature elements-that is. size. are there are commonalities in which specific cues get selected to communicate particular meanings (or are used to infer meanings). illustratorlike. controlled versus natural. light and shade. graffiti.presence of planting. say whether the elicitors and display rules alone are variable or whether the elements are also. textures. shape. 1977: 229230). enclosing elements. height. size. light levels. That evidence seems somewhat equivocal. materials. Put differently. spaces: quality. etc. but there does seem to be considerablevariability. is what happens as one moves into the domain of semifixed.or fixed-feature realms. the cultural variability and specificity tends to increase. furnishings. barriers and links. 1 9 7 2 . which have also been studied cross-culturally. Second. arrangement age-new versus old type of order. 1 9 7 7 ) can potentially draw. furniture.

it is usually related to status. behavior. suggestsculturalvariability.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 107 perceived density level of maintenance topography-natural or human-made location-prominence. etc ) versus natural sounds (wind. cook~ng. laughter. flowers. trees. resident~al. cars. actlvrtles and uses lntenslty. etc. and sex. hills or valleys. either in person or in building form. pedestrians. playlng. separated and un~form versus mtxed. plantsand gardens. talk. and is thus fairly common-the higher off the ground. fences. in the sense of above/below (in context). rellg~ous. etc. music. shops. centrality versus periphery. advertisements. if we consider planting. blrds. clubs. the higher the status-but some interesting reversals can occur.If we consider height. etc temporal differences of various kinds For example. type-such as industry. human-made sounds (industy. age. certainly in the sense of relative size or scale. or other travel modes. foods.Yet the importance and sanctity of the temple as a whole is expressed in terms of height in both cases (see Figure 15). etc. between North and South Indian temples. eatlng.. the very fact that different plant complexes in gardens are easily identifiable with particular ethnic groups. may well be an important universal category for indicating the meaning importance. traffic. fairs. etc versus plants. as for example. temporal changes In sound smells human-made versus natural.traffic. markets. physical type. etc objects signs. water. etc socral elements people languages spoken. such as industry. "pleasant" versus "unpleasant. that is. nolsy versus quiet. possessions. exposed or hidden. the temple as a whole vis-a-vis the houses and other urban elements. the sea. restaurants. decor. their dress.). Thus height. occupation. This use of . as we shall see later. recreatron. where the height gradient in its relation to the degree of sanctity is reversed (see Figure 14). sleeprng." foods and the type of food. s o u n d sound quality-dead versus reverberant. etc.

churches in towns and neighborhoods. or the Haus Tambaran in a Sepik River village in New Guinea (see Figure 16).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.108 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT $ o m P. .



Needham. in Cambodia. are inherently ambiguous by themselves and also operate much less effectively in the associational realm. whereas color is highly noticeable. even today. 1977. 1977). for example. where there is n o relation) and still others (such as the contemporary United States) in which reversals occur (Rapoport. It may be useful to consider color in more detail. commoners were restricted to leaves or thatch (Giteau. there are cases in which this does not seem to be the case (that is. there do exist rare cases of reversals (as in the case of China. we find that while in most traditional societies central location is related to high status. and n o o n e could be higher than the king. 1973). and hence not perceived con . 1976). kneeling." and so on in the semifixed-feature domain and of bowing. Yet the constrast between central versus peripheral location seems s o widespread as to be almost universal. Schnapper.once again. per se. While in most cases right is seen as positive and left as negative. particularly since that which is not named. with implications for the design of buildings and settlements. since there is evidence that it is o n e of the clearest noticeable differences (Rapoport. Similarly. redundancy was increased by restricting the use of tile roofs to nobles. and even crawling on one's belly in the nonfixed domain also come to mind.Some recent evidence suggests that color is much more clearly located in semantic space than are. The question of specificity or universality in color applies to its perception and naming as well as the meaning. nobles had raised houses and slaves were allowed only on the ground floor. They are also much less noticeable as cues. This may partly help explain the greater utility of semifixed-feature elements for communicating meaning: Spatial relationships. which tend to be more ambiguous (Miller and Johnson-Laird. the context plays a role. although universal-possibly related to our bodies' bilateral symmetry-is more variable in terms of meaning. between the United States andltaly (or even France) constitute almost a reversal (Rapoport. 1976). the centrality of color in semantic space mbkes this question worth addressing briefly. the "high table. 1971). while critical in the organization of the perceptual world. commoners always had to be lower than nobles.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 11 1 Note also that in traditional Thailand. 1977: 49). It is also found that the distinction or opposition between right and left. The differences. The use of podia. spatial relations. genuflecting. If we consider centrality. While this discussion is not directly relevant to the question of meaning. thrones.

In the latter case this may be related t o the identification of colors with directions. one would expect to find more variability and greater cultural specificity for meaning than for perception or naming. If. particular mountains. . blue with south. and black with north. where. from which various cultures draw all eleven or fewer. but it appears that. the Nazis used yellow as a stigma color. 1972: 150). pan-human inventory of eleven basic perceptual color categories.The whole range of positions has been taken. and so on. however. fixed sequence of evolutionary stages through which languages must pass as their color vocabulary increases. then red is next. 1969). even in the United States.Color'sposition in the developmental sequence among children also varies (Suchman. however. In some cultures. All languages. and the persistence of color as an attention-eliciting dimension vary with culture (Lloyd. 1974). or weakest form (for a good brief review. 1969). have two of the categoriesblack and white. if four. 1972). which are clearly ranked. such as the United States. colors are explicitly ranked in terms of goodlbad (Hall. meaning) and from the concrete to the symbolic object. these relations are not explicit and hence not widely shared and more idiosyncratic. for example. At first glance. Thus the color of mourning can be white. the number of named categories. weak. whereas among the Navaho. there are regional differences (Sommer and Estabrook. Also. see Lloyd. Each is also related to specific phenomena. particularly whether the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (that language influences perception) applies at all and. yellow with west. this seems to be the case. and s o on. one accepts the increasing variability as one goes from manifest to latent functions (that is. But the evidence for the greater variability and cultural specificity between color and meaning is somewhat equivocal and ambiguous. east and south (white and blue) are male. either green or yellow (but not both). however. There thus seems to be a clear. while all human beings can discriminate color. 1966). there are two temporal orders in this evolutionary sequence (Berlin and Kay. whereas west and north (yellow and black) are female (Lamphere.112 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT sciously. In this area there also has been much argument. This relation between colors and cardinal directions is formed also in other cultures. whereas it has the opposite meaning in Buddhism. White is identified with east. If three are used. and so on. black. jewels. or purple. There does seem to be a universal. the salience of color. color use seems to be arbitrary or random. is unlikely to have major meaning and hence to be used as a cue. birds. 1961: 104). if so. whether in the strong.

Sim~larly. that colors generally d o have meaning. Asian Indians. the sacred and hierarchically important section was centrally located. There were clear and explicit rules for using color: (a) only pure colors were to be used. by contrast with noncolors. color meaning of nature This included red for power (blood). English.. larger in scale. black generally has negative connotations. and white Americans. India. where black has extremely negative meaning. than. 1973) modified by culture. reversing the "natural" meaning-thus green. China. Moreover. in ancient Peking. Germans. generally. yellow for warmth and fruitfulness (sun). most of the city was low and gray. and Egypt. whereas black 1s uniformly negative. both white and black children in the United States attach negative meanings to black and positive meanings to white (Stabler and Johnson. Danes. though. and the use of colors was restricted to that section. The colors used had four sources: (1)ancient religious archives and ceremonies of Iran. could become despair (Blanch. For example. and higher. (b) combinations of colors to give tints corresponded to compound meanings. that is. and s o on. and (4)based on the other three.Thus the . which normally stood for youth and hope. and in terms of increasing the redundancy of other cues. not only in Western culture but among Siberian tribes. It is quite clear. while a few exceptions exist. These two colors seem t o involve universal meanings (Goldberg and Stabler. for example. 1972). ( 3 ) Greek and Roman mythology. 1970) Black artd white thus evoke positive and negative affective associations and meanings These are more polarized in the West. Thus. white positive (Stabler and Goldberg. more elaborate. One example is the complex color symbolism of medieval times2 based on the notion that every object has mystical meaning.green for youth and hopefulness (spring). some Africans. both in themselves. 1973). White is rated positively by Hong Kong Chinese. the evidence suggests considerable cross-cultural generality in the meaning of black and white and other colors and color names (Williams et al. one finds many examples of explicit color meanings. although even in Japan white is still preferred. and (c) the rule of opposites. (2) the Old Testament. in Japan. 1972). where black and white tend to harmonize more and are seen more in terms of a complementary balance of opposites. white is very commonly seen as positive and black as negative. and American Indians.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. Mongols.Thus. Although there may be exceptions.

it has been suggested that since in all cultures colors are related to affect and mood. such as natural stone. and elaboration. More importantly. these have been widely shared among cultures (Kaplan. mud brick) environment. It seems partly a matter of the kinds of cues. For example.While every culture has had its own expressive system of color meanings. Thus in the case of Rumanian village churches. male genital displays are extremely common among infrahuman primates. 1975). the result is a widespread stereotyping of colors (Aaronson.or fixed-feature elements. There is clearly some uncertainty about the degree of constancy even in the nonfixed-feature realm. was obtained by the use of new materials. Alternatively.. age-old or new-also may indicate importance or status. that is. In areas of overlap between nonfixed features and semifixed. thus the role of color in a monochrome or natural (for example. gestures or facial expressions. the same condition exists. 1970). may stand out. In the case of materials or forms. such as levels of arousal. a monochrome building (a church) reinforced by a change of materials. such as emblems or adaptors. it is the presence or absence of color in a context-color as a noticeable difference-that is important. size.114 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT use of color constituted an arbitrary system that needed knowledge of the cultural context to be read. in the case of Pueblo Kioas. There is also the fact that colors seem to have some striking commonalities in their physiological effects. stuccoed setting (such as Mexico) or in a whitewashed setting (as in the case of Astuni in Apulia. emphasis. as in the Altiplano of Peru or the Pueblos in New Mexico. Yet many such arguments are not fully convincing. the cross-cultural generality of the meanings of colors other than black and white has also been strongly argued (for example. form (domes and towers). One also findsacorrespondingly common reflection among humans in the widespread . may stand out in a polychrome. see Williams et al. vis-a-vis dwellings. Based on this. 1970). and since much of this relation is based on association with natural phenomena and the physiological impact of colors. and more generally. nonverbal communication proper. already discussed) where it is further reinforced by location. In such an environment a whitewashed building. height. It usually indicates something special or important. as in the cases of Peking or Isphahan already discussed. and there were hence some variations. the contrast is achieved through the use of an archaic form. Although it seems rather equivocal. such as a church.

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-



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

11 7

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-



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

1 19

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


or adaptors. t h e authors ruere then at the San Francisco r n e d i ~ a l Un~versltyo Cal~fornia. since Venice has few arcades. when they are unique (one clearing in a forest. and largely observational approach. avoiding the problems presented by formal linguistic.and nonfixed-feature elements tend to be more like emblems. 1979:76). and relation to. but Ekman's model seems t o be applicable whether semifixed. whose work I w~lishortly discuss. nonmanicured landscaping of upper-class areas (Duncan. this communicates the social meaning of dwellings. however. natural things. they thus all seem to have the same importance and do not communicate (Chenu et al. or symbolic approaches.Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning 121 in Venice. In the new neighborhood of Villaggio San Marco.. whether they are more like gestures or facial expressions (see Figure 17). We have already seen that differences become more noticeable." but by contrast with the prevail~ng suburban norm of manicured landscape This landscaping becomes a marker. Recall. Similarly. 1 9 7 9 : 106. the suggestion already made. structuralist. Much work needs to be done in reviewing all these issues historically and cross culturally. Scarcity value is thus important in emphasizing absence o r presence through contrast. can usefully be applied to environmental meaning. has been work~ng . illustrators. reinforced by the above discussion. 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. f where Ekman. of interaction and meeting. 110-111). and symbolic analyses. o n e colored building).Clearly. that by starting with this relatively simple. one is in no way blocking its eventual integration with. where arcades are the norm. straightforward. they have a special meaning that indicates special areas of social importance. Notes school of the 1 Interestingly. and meanings clearer. the shabby.. windows v a y greatly in size and form. semiotic. more formal linguistic. derived from nonverbal communication. It thus appears that this approach. the windows are all of the same size and form. their absence may have equivalent meaning. semiotic. in Bologna. For example. At the moment it still seems unresolved. 1973) communicates not only through matching the schema of "wilderness" and "simple.

" As pointed out in Chapter 2. .122 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 2. Note that this and many other studies o n color are discussed in terms of "symbolism. "What is the meaning of colors?" or "What d o colors communicate?" is substituted. there is n o loss in clarity when the concept "symbol" is omitted and the question.

Note that the early work of Ruesch and Kees. those at the urban scale. While. 1969d). Clearly. of course. it now seems useful to examine examples of the application of the approach advocated in more detail. smaller-scale examples will be examined.SMALL-SCALE EXAMPLES OF APPLICATIONS Although many varied examples have been used in the discussion s o far. the advantage of this approach is that it is relatively simple and straightforward. and others involved observation and/or photography followed by analysis. one sensitizes oneself to see. In both processes. knowing the cultural context is extremely useful. verbal communication studies in the nonfixed-feature area. which led to hypotheses tested by further observation o r experiment. In conventional non. observe. In this chapter. The observation itself and the understanding become easier with practice. In this book. Ekman. one needs to intuit the meaning of what o n e sees. in general. also an analogue of design and of the use of man-environment studies in design. that intuition then needs to be checked systematically and in a more "linear" fashion. in the next. that is. as one develops this mode of thought. This led to an index o r catalogue of cues. the examples will concentrate on our own time and Western culture. of course. and understand: It is not a linear process. Basically. but one involving an intuitive "creative leap" once one has saturated oneself in the information (Rapoport. occasional more "exotic" examples will be used to stress specific points. but even that can be suggested by observation. As already pointed out. one can . involving observation and interpretation. relatively simple approach is extremely useful. Hall. This is. Birdwhistell. the suggestion is made that this early. one begins by looking and observing.

newly arrived in Spain. observing and recording various features in the environment: blending of offices and dwellings. and they retire separately to different places. as already pointed out. effectively. 1972). defending attorney's seat.124 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT study both the encoding and decoding of the behaviors in an interaction (Ekman and Friesen. in that case. and so on. the case is less important than the point that we can judge relative position. meanings can then be inferred and checked. various smells. jury's seats. decoration. Clearly. the context available to the users. behavior. that is. and witness stand. which is extremely significant for my argument. location. and interaction will communicate even more. film placards. other variants are found. if one considers courtrooms in several cultures (Hazard. accused. the judge and jury retire together. wigs. the nature of the judge's seat-its size. The judge's dress-robes. sidewalk cafes. whether it is raised-will communicate much. defendant's seat. This clearly suggests that with people present. and the whole situation through such cues that. In other places. the suggestion is that by observing the spatial relationships among five elements-judge's seat. 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. Forexample. A significant point about the jury/judge re!ation above is that how and where they retire is significant. These cues may be very subtle. In Geneva. the jury is separate from the judge in the United States and Britain. beginning with observation (Poyatos. the early stages described involve a person. 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). the signs attached to balconies. 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). in fact. For example. Spatial organization at small scales can communicate meanings at the level of semifixed elements. status. their dress. 1976). open-door bars. For example. this process of gradual comprehension implies.Whether this is. the prosecutor is higher spatially than the defense attorney. chains. 1972). traffic. as a saw-cut in the bench behind which judge and prosecutorsit in Poland to make them distinct. or sashes of . proxemic behavior. however. At the same time. are in the semifixed realm. the need to acquire the cultural knowledge necessary to interpret the cues.

Small-Scale Examples of Applications 125 .

other environmental means might be involved. 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. behavior. In addition to field analysis. One can also observe overt behavior and obtain demographic characteristics of populations to help interpret these meanings more fully. The report also comments that the American criminal trial is a public ritual that is used to resolve conflicts.126 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT office-will add more. other comparable cases allow inferences to be made more easily. for example. 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. It soon became clear that personalization through semifixed elements was very much higher on the South side-in fact. the discussion here bears on the setting for these rituals and it reflects them. This is. Note that. of course. 1978) compared semifixed elements in several hundred dwellings in an area on the South side of Milwaukee (a white ethnic. Thus. he photographed the houses for further analysis. as we shall see below. He assumed that personalization would be higher on the East side. two different subculture codes were being used to which people conformed. such as the usher's cry of "all stand" and the crowd's behavior. once again. Thus these more typical nonverbal cues also play a role. the fixedfeature elements communicate much less. all add even more data. Note that. 1975). fairly high-status area. a group identity achieved . Basically one identifies sets of noticeable differences among environments and makes inferences about them. The advantage of such an approach is that it is simple enough conceptually to be used quickly and easily by practitioners and students. blue-collar area) with a n area on the East side (a professional-academic. through professional achievement (see Rapoport. In other words. It even becomes possible to disprove hypotheses in this way. Once a single case is analyzed and relationships established. for example. 1981)? Alternatively. Various questions and subhypotheses could quickly be formulated. nonenvironmental ways. one student (Janz. what was typical of the East side was the absence of personalization. The meanings communicated-"I am a good person who belongs hereu-were communicated through both the presence and absence of personalization externally. with a subsample of architects' dwellings there). typical of all cultures. moreover. one finds that clothing style. for example.

applied easily in the field by researchers. needed to be achieved through personalization? These questions. and have been. and students O n e can look at the state of lawns maintenance of houses colors presence and absence of porches .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. These can be. signs on front of house flagpoles and their location air conditioners storm doors other objects For each of these elements. 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:. Thus lists of noticeable differences can be noted among fixed and semifixed (and even nonfixed) features that are used to indicate front or back. It was also not too difficult for a student to begin to list the elements to be examined (that is. Similar questions and approaches can be used to study frontjback distinctions. practitioners. many specific questions can easily be listed. too. could be answered relatively easily. on the South side.

shape. the~r dress. and nonfixed-feature elements such as people and their activities could also be observed and used to clarify the issue. one finds granaries as major elements-in size. color. and behav~or presence. continuity. or treatment of fences and many others. enabling o n e to work in the manner described in the preface. location. The elements constitutingthe message content of the barriers used to demarcate space were also quite easily derived: location. or barbecues. chairs. was done as project for a term paper and would hardly have been possible with more "sophisticated" means. color. Hence grain is stored in simple and unobtrusive granaries. tables. and began by observing and recording objects. both externally and internally. because of Islam. type. Illinois (Anderson and Moore. that is. dominate the mud-brick villages . qualitative evaluations and quantitative differences were studied. materials. 1972).The study investigated the demarcation of space through planting and fences. (Inventories of this kind can also be used. and so on. such as markers (equivalent to point barriers). The study. 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. The process was direct. like the Milwaukee example above. absence. a classification and typology easily followed. are quickly noted (even if not studied). and easy. In the former case.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. it is God who is honored ratherthan grain. decoration. An example is provided by a comparison of houses in some parts of Africa with those in the Sudan. it is mosques and tombs of saints that. In the Sudan. and results were enlightening. These clearly are important in the meanings they have for people. for many other studies. size. size. relating many disparate studies and integrating them into larger conceptual systems. in form.) An example of one such study done by students examined the object language in two subculturally different residential areas in Urbana. and so on. Then. Other forms of boundary phenomena.they can then quickly be seen to relate to other studies of such markers. The presence or absence of semifixed-feature elements such as other planting. sun umbrellas. straightforward.

frequently. But can one find more "scientific" evidence? It is. and the relevant cultural.The importance of these lawns was in their meaning. Shortly after I arrived in Milwaukee in 1972. and the particular orientation of her house. among the Mossi. in the case of each of the West African groups. Court actions took place and the case eventually reached the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 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. Obviously a front lawn is independent of space organization-it is more than a certain number of square feet of grass. they communicated adherence to a particular image . The municipality was outraged. a lawn was put in and maintained while the house lacked adequate furniture (Eichler and Kaplan. and so on. location. in fact. decoration. the woman was allowed to grow her vegetables. after the purchase of the house. In other parts of West Africa. Front lawns in our own culture provide a good example. a different element communicates meaning. however. 1967. difficult to avoid it. the mosque has meaning as an expression of spirituality as the granary is a spiritual expression of material well-being. the elements analyzed and interpreted. 1974).The differences are clarified using cultural knowledge. Thus.Small-Scale Examples of Applications 129 (Lee. Werthman. Once noted. little money often remained available to residents Yet. materials. The central role of the lawn in communicating meanlng is confirmed by studies done in new communities in California. In these new communities. inferences can be made. In the end. Wisconsin Given the local climate. it is the doorway and lock (Prussin. but what is far more interesting is the obviously strongly affective reaction to the attempt. and many special council meetings were held. contextual knowledge relatively easily obtained to check these Interpretations. 1972)all judged on the basis of emphasis and elaboration. among the Dogomba. this is revealed through noticeable differences:elaboration. 1968). a rather interesting case occurred in the suburb of Wauwatosa. for example. it is not the granary but the doorframe of the compound portal that has the most meaning. It must mean something very important-as we would also suspect from the anecdotal material on social pressures for well-maintained laws. a woman decided that she would have her vegetable garden in front-where a lawn is normally to be found in Anglo-American culture.

Note the role of context: Fences clearly meant something different before and after their general disappearance. interaction. and changes in their height. with lawns seen as indicating higher-status and better-quality people (Sherif and Sherif. were seen as the creation of a particular image certifying and maintaining status. in the Barriadas of . all have more to d o with meaning than anything else. at the moment. and reappearance. and are. of course. 2). 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. providing the cues and standards for social comparison processes whereby people are judged. it is a most important component of that rather complex concept (for a review. the lawn becomes an expression of a particular message-the front region par excellence. Parenthetically (and to be discussed later).130 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT that established a group identity and certified the worthiness of the individual to inhabit the particular area. There are. seen as communicating self-sufficiency. areas of the United States where fences are still common and. and boundary control. and so on. and they mean something different in the United States than they do in Britain and other places where they are common. 1951). 1977: ch. but then disappeared. quite young children judged people by these. In other cultures. A most important (although. while in the latter it does not (see Figure 19). solidity. individualism. Their persistence. self-worth. that is. 1972). see Rapoport. and so do the materials used or changes in their use (Anderson and Moore. the whole area. its upkeep and layout. and nonconformity (Jackson. The presence or absence of fences also has meaning. disappearance. We already have seen that these meanings are part of the enculturation process and occur very early in life. In the United States. they seem to be proliferating generally in the United States. and self-identity. and the meaning and purpose of planning. In Texas. In almost all studies having to do with the environmental quality of residential areas. For example. maintenance plays a most important role. They were. 1963). different devices are used to achieve similar ends. in the former case it communicates attitudes about privacy. certainly. not the only) aspect of maintenance is the quality of the front lawn. for example. where both lawn and country gardens (bare earth and flowers) existed. The front yard and its lawn. In effect. as we have already seen. are indicators of the taste. and lifestyle of the family who owns it. status. highly conforming in the latter. fences used to be common.

Peru. . 1976) are other examples among many others that can be given (Rapoport.. a necessity (Turner. In other cases. 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.. such as in Puerto Rico. where elaborate wrought-iron grilles may cost more than the dwelling they enclose. to put it mildly.c~L*T~ * ~ Q T O t. 1967).Small-Scale Examples of Applications 131 FEPJR? ~d TLVO . an elaborate front door is purchased often before a roof can be afforded-in a climate where roofs are. front fences are used. Figure 19 Lima.

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. 1977: ch. 1 9 8 1 ) . we find "inappropriate" behavior. 1965). and so on (Duncan and Duncan. The analysis of lawns. as in the example of Baltimore cited above. An example of cues comparable to lawns and fences in a different culture is provided by the head-high. 1973.The implication of this is. in the latter. of course. The very common use of such elements leads to their expressing meaning. the presence of stripped and cannibalized cars visible from the road (that is. s o that traditional Chinese gardens are of two types and. Anderson. a front region for most American travelers.The primacy of the m e a n i n g of this element. 1971. if the code is understood. as a social being. 1972. When frontlback reversals occur. can communicate ethnic and other group identities. These larger scale examples will be discussed in more detail in the next chapter.What they all show is the important meaning of "front region" being communicated by the use of various devices.132 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1979a). 1975. Each of these positions has environmental . can be shown to summarize and express Taoist and Confucian philosophies. and hence the use of gardens and plant complexes by cultural geographers as a culture indicator is significant (Kimber. especially pp. no interim boundary definers or privacy screens are used (Seligmann. Rapoport. These are grown from scratch and take between eight and seventeen years to mature. 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. see Rapoport. The cultural specificity is striking. Wilhelm. even though Seligmann argues that in Denmark generally. its latent rather than manifest function. 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. identity. man is seen as a natural being. front definition is of much lesser importance than in the United States. in rural areas. is clear: The purpose is to establish front and communicate self-worth in the culturally appropriate way. 2. 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. respectively (Moss. 1976. to those who can decode the meanings. 1966. impenetrable beech hedges in front of houses in Denmark. Alternatively. 1976). 1965). country gardens.In the former. that gardens and planting patterns have meaning and. 96-100).

and s o on (Rapoport. hence. by beginning with observation and by identifying the elements. rocks. symmetry. can also be "read" in this way. palaces. and intimacy rather than monumentality. the front/ back distinction often seems basic even when both yards are seen. flowers. a search for surprise.S. water. useful Similar analyses have been done for the New Zealand suburban house (which I d o not have) and the Vancouver house (Holdsworth. the domain of culture.although not only. and other official or ceremonial settings-that is. use of plant materials. with grass. 1969c: 131. curvilinearity was avoided. 1975) These meanings are interpreted in terms of the interaction and conflict between communal roles and private identity. straightforwardly. little or no grass. also.Small-Scale Examples of Applications 133 implications. Mexican-Americans and JapaneseAmericans in Los Angeles. and rectilinear direction change and axiality were sought. gardens are less important than houses. The analysis IS concrete. purpose of garden planning" (Anderson. In both cases. with walled gardens. rectangularity. it is done directly. the cultural meanings (Seligmann. rocks. and other meanings. there would be n o less of clarity in using the nonverbal communication approach. . 1972: 181). bright flowers and flowering trees. the landscaping of dwellings can be "read" quite easily. In the Confucian view. 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). and so on. bonsai trees. It is significant that two subcultural groups. Other binary oppositions are found: lawn/ground cover. the specifics--layout. This. clear. While in this case a semistructuralist analysis is made. then. becomes theUchief. and so onfollow from these ideals. In the United States. transformed previously identical residential areas through planting and garden design: In the former case. Confucian gardens also communicate that: hierarchically arranged and explicitly defined spaces. cacti and s o on. It can be suggested that planting lawns. cultivated flowers/wildflowers ( = weeds).Again. Other elements of environments. popular houses were analyzed directly using the concept of audicule and trying to identify what was being communicated. and. temples. Thus early twentieth-century U. in the latter case. such as suburban houses. note 15). and the like is a mode of communication about the owners and the social situation. lack of symmetry. patios. Thus the Taoist garden stresses irregularity. avoidance of axial vistas or avenues. stone lanterns. starting with the observed elements. the "reading" is straightforward and simple.

The meanings of the latter can be so easily read. Massachusetts-it is a compromise between the economics of urban land and the ideal of the freestanding. and hence appropriate. although the nonverbal communication model is not used formally. single-family dwelling (Barnett. The task is fairly straightforward and. 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. become clear from an analysis of advertisements. is not due just to its local availability. It is the meaning rather than the reality of the detached house that is important. Gestalt. The meaning of the detached house as home. by observing the spatial relationships of just two people (patient and therapist) in a psychiatric situation in a number of "schools" of psychiatry-Freudian. In Pittsburgh. as we shall see in the next chapter. can be relatively easily achieved. one can determine equally well the essential philosophy of the particular school (Goodman. or the absence of furniture. partly in contrast to the English urban landscape. The use of wood. Interestingly. 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.One could add to this other examples. but also to the fact that the brick urban world had negative connotations related to the nineteenthcentury industrial city (Holdsworth.134 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1975). 1975: 4). given even a minimal knowledge of the context. areas is provided by the "three-decker" house in Worcester. and s o onoften expressed and expressible in furniture arrangements.S. these same dwellings now often communicate negative meanings. for example. I recently saw houses about eighteen inches apart-they were still freestanding! (Recall the saw-cut in the Polish courtroom described above.) Another example of the meaning of freestanding houses in nineteenth-century working-class U. Similarly. and illustrated that they are used in advertisements (see Figure 20). Jungian. with changing contexts and images. such as Morita therapy in Japan and various . Individuality was important (again.In this case also. where the spacing between houses may be as little as four feet. on the corner of Hamlet and Ophelia streets (in South Oakland). and new elements are used in redevelopment in Milwaukee to communicate positive. Reichian. 1975). the approach is effectively the one being advocated-observation and analysis. 1977). understood. Differences can be found between the working-class "hqme" and elite dwellings. 1959). of the fireplace and other elements. meanings.


of these cases. the British House of Commons. Note that in many. . Senate proves most instructive in the way meaning is communicated by the location of seating as expressing political philosophies. and the U. This argument can also be extended to restaurants and to parliamentary institutions. the cues are in the semifixed realm (and in the nonfixed realm when people are present)the fixed-feature elements communicate much less. if not most. where a comparison of the French Assemblke Nationale.136 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT ethnopsychiatric situations.S.

that they can be read in the same way as smaller-scale examples-instantaneously. moreover. 1977) Note that the main difference between 0 .erable individuals. 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. or users. the cultural knowledge needed to decode nonverbal behavior in the nonfixed. and redundant cues. In a homogeneous area. since it is mainly. 1980b. the presence of shared schemata among particular groups (Rapoport.and semifixed-feature domains is much clearer in the one case than in the other (see Fioure 21). in highly heterogeneous areas they result in random variations with little or no meaning at the scale of the area. personalizations and human behavior "add up" to produce strong. such landscapes have meaning in terms of various forms of group identity and. semifixed.URBAN EXAMPLES O F APPLICATIONS Many dwellings together become residential areas and many gardens together become hndscapes. Also. cultural landscapes are the results of many artifacts grouped together in particular relationships. although not exclusively. take on clear character. clear. 1 9 8 0 ~ )It. More generally. of course. the development o specific character at the areal level f depends on some level of homogeneity. Also.and nonfixed-feature elements that communicate meaning. This suggests. particularly for residents. All these characteristics play a role in the relatively greater effectiveness of traditional environments in communicating to their users vis-avis contemporary situations. 1977. 1 9 7 2 . It is most striking that they can. They are also the result of the decisions of innum. and do. also suggests that once the schemata or codes are known.

quickly. as we shall see. observers are prepared to act on the basis of very limited information. Possibly. for example. once again. Thus. Yet. given the importance of such cues in cities made up of very diverse individuals and groups. judgments are made constantly. that the process of understanding cultural landscapes is very analogous to that pertaining to interperson perception studied in psychology. at the area level. and easily. cities.138 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Figure 21 these cases and the smaller-scale ones is that cues are collective rather than individual.S. theoretically. more difficult to make-more potentially discordant messages are present. There. judgments are. Note. individuals are required t o make snap judgments about strangers on the basis of limited information-they . observers are ready to make judgments on the basis of minimal or uncertain cues. in terms of contemporary U. Redundancy becomes even more important for clarity since even with extreme homogeneity a degree of variability is inevitable.

and then act accordingly-environments communicate social and ethnic identity. in fact. and s o on. speech. The insistence on modern materials in the Third World already discussed is an example. 1 9 6 9 ~ ) . and s o on. such as work space and night sleeping space. see Rapoport. For example. and then gradually becoming used for houses-first elite and then nonelite. the group identity was negative or stigmatizing: Slums are inhabited by " b a d people. environmental quality is often judged through maintenance (Rapoport. and many others). a wider range of cues. classified large areas as slums even though. Thus. The use of materials communicates meaning over and above space organization. at that moment in time. human-made materials generally. o n e finds adobe first used in public buildings. 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. is provided by a group of architects who. But shape may also communicate in this way. Mann. for other examples. in a particular case. adobe was equated with high status. stereotypical schemata are used to evaluate these perceived characteristics (Warr and Knapper. fixed. In the cases being discussed here. 1969:especially pp. and s o on. Often. 1 9 7 7 . which . An example of this process. For example. in large parts of the Middle East. 1977). replacing wattle and daub. 1972. and through them the character of groups. In other cases. it may be brick or stone. flat roofs are now regarded as a mark of poverty. for this purpose (Hodges. semifixed. and nonfixed feature. A different form of cultural landscape (in the context of architects' images) was judged negatively. their comparison standard was based on different cues-materials replaced lawns-but the process was similar and s o was the outcome. 1972). 92-100.Maintenance itself is judged through a whole set of cues. skin. are being used to judge areas. 1968. references in Rapoport. status. make judgments about the occupants of settings. Thus people read environmental cues.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. tile roofs have become virtually a status symbol-people giving up necessary instrumental and manifest functions. Thus. Pitched. in studying the early Mesoamerican village. Since people are judged by where they live. dress. and of the schemata used to stereotype and judge people.

East of Nablus. and otherculturai landscapes in South America (Stewart. those groups that use familiar. Thus one finds Ukrainian. vegetation is different (as on the German Carmel). first. Similarly. It is widely believed that. Their origins are clearly communicated-whether Greek. 1969). English landscapes have been recreated over large areas of the country (Shepard. Italian. Frequently. In terms of identity and how it is communicated by group landscapes (see Rapoport. plants. German. it is o f interest to examine immigrant groups in new environments. Jerusalem. As a final set of examples. 1971). space organization. Japanese. shape and material of roofs (pitched and red tile versus flat). buildings. 1978: 138-139). in the Middle East. descendants of Bosnian settlers in the village of Yamun. can still be recognized through the fact that their houses have red tile roofs (Ilan. or Ethiopian. forthcoming a). In the plain of Sharon. and the Judean desert. 1971).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. The cases of Australia and. and s o on. they tend to select landscapes like those "back home" because they have affective meaning. Israel. although this view has recently been challenged (see McQuillan. for example. New Zealand are even more striking: There. 1978). becomes understandable. at the time the area was settled the meaning was clearly important and very strong. In the context of that rather wild and remote place. the urge to transform it. in Haifa.Be that as it may. Thus. because they express elements of the culture core (Rapoport. areas settled by Germans in the nineteenthcentury are quite different from others-they contrast house forms. establishing a "European" meaning. 1979c. . This differentiates them from their Arab neighbors. we find the treatment of various religious enclaves in the Sinai. Eidt. to give it meaning through the use of familiar cues. traditional elements and that are able to create corresponding landscapes tend to be more successful in their settlement attempts (Eidt. flat-roofed houses. This can be interpreted partly in terms of meaning: These environments are supportive because they are familiar. It is also fascinating to study the landscapes created by various ethnic and cultural groups at smaller scales.140 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT will become clearer shortly. particularly. and s o on. 1965. they do frequently transform the landscape through layout. door details. forthcoming a). who live in traditional.

one finds multiple cue and message systems co-acting in order to provide sufficient redundancy for the message to ge through. Recall the example of Westchester County. 1973). features such as domes. of course. and the use of elaborate mail boxes or of rural mail boxes. the presence or absence of colonial eagles. Cues included street paving. where. In most cases. relies on the fact that the physical environment can be seen as encoding information. as already stressed. but influence human behavior. Mexico). Thus in Monte Alban (Oaxaca. therefore. they must be read.Also. fenestration. status and importance in a Southern Italian town such as Ostuni (see Figure 8 in Chapter 2) is indicated by location of buildings. and s o on But even in our culture this still works and is used for intergroup communication. membership could be read very easily and effectively. social structure. and s o on (Blanton. as we have seen. way of excluding the lower-status group. as we have seen. where two landscapes were found that well communicated group distinct c~iltural identity (Duncan. archaeology. for example. their size. materials. in Old Nubia. house visibility. a combination of fixed-feature and semifixed-feature elements were used in a surface survey to make inferences about the population. For example. Note that in archaeology also the reading can occur at the urban scale as well as at smaller scales. the extent to which environments communicate these messages effectively depends on redundancy. towers. street lighting. Before returning to the United States to consider a range of examples. thus it can be decoded or read even if that reading may be difficult o r inaccurate in some cases. political organization. This works particularly well in traditional and vernacular environments. 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. 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. and effective. colors. 1978). Note also the likelihood that the counterintuitive nature of the high-status landscape was a "cunning" way of marking that group and a subtle. These not only embody values and ideals. Similarly.Urban Examples of Applications 141 All these are. let us see how such codes work in different cultural milieus. nature of planting (clipped or natural). once the code was known. and pediments. T o dothat. uses of areas. different groups along the Nile used tombs of saints to ident~fy groups that also had different house and village . history.

the contrast with the context of traditional environments may be set up through the use of modern materials and colors. the adoption of Western domestic furniture. were decorated in very striking ways. and equipment. however. A clear contrast was set up with the context. Thus noticeable cues are created-knowledge of the code then enables the meaning ("Nubians") to be read. 1976). 1977). a specific meaning vis-a-vis the other inhabitants. These changes were assertions about changing values and attitudes." European-style bungalows. indicate higher status. More substantial dwellings of concrete or stone. even though they may be less comfortable. higher income. and the consequent behavior in India was an indication of status: It was a marker.. freestanding. All houses.142 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 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. or contact with overseas relatives. Their major significance was in the realm of meaning.These decorations became the element communicating ethnic identity. color will not have that role. furnishings. with balconies or with grilles. "outward facing. In this case the cues are traditional. Thus a village may blend in with the local color (being built of mud brick) and look like a rock outcrop. the first thing the Nubians did was to begin to decorate the houses (Fernea et al. and in many Indian or even Mestizo (or Ladino) villages. Changes in traditional environments also need to be understood in this way. and painted. however. new "suburban" location. in which the environment generally-that is. or Mexico). For example. 1968b. and colder in winter. houses may be beehive shapedas in North Syria. see also Figure 7 in Chapter 2). the change to Western. In the case. Italy. the meaning of the latter is clear from the English term pukka sahib. the context-is polychromatic (as in some Greek Islands. they were markers of a particular group membership. In Mexico and other countries of Latin America. Clearly. being a way of marking them. that is. hotter in summer. the double-story or painted (or both) dwellings will have similar communicative function (see Figure 22). When rehoused in uniform and highly unsuitable houses after the building of the Aswan Dam. This is not unlike the distinction in India between houses of mud brick (kufcha) and of burnt brick (pukka). 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. all examples of the stress on new materials and forms . It began with elites. 1973). distinguishing between them and others (King.

MExlLO %+b%ch Figure 22 are to be seen not in terms of comfort. which is equated with an identification with elements the meaning of which is urban life." They are in the associational realm. and large windows (uncomfortable. mud dwellings are used (Lee. in ascending order. improvement in livability. materials (such as red brick). the hierarchy. but indicating modernity) all indicate prestige.Urban Examples of Applications 143 T ~ ~ P ~ O ~ AWRDDEeN W L - lnC?h3F~L-lfi~5 Itd \I(U&(*EhND T O ~ J . but as statements of meaning. about "modernity. is . as soon as one can afford them. and the like. houses made of flimsy wood and grass are considered old fashioned and symbolic of the lowest economic and social classes. In the Sudan. Similarly. the choice of house form. 1969b).

First.All relate toUdistanceto nature" as identifying status and membership in the two major groups: Indian and Ladino (or Mestizo). materials-human-made (tile. activity types and levels. be reinforced by other cues such as the types of people encountered. and so on as low status. the scattered. in this case. Second. and s o on) as high status. such as the United States or Australia. grid layouts. of course. human-made materials forming what one could call an "urban wall. sounds. and the use of "natural" materials contrasts with urban landscapes. their behavior. natural vegetation. scattered and straggly as low status. the proliferation of vegetation. first. in other cultures. and peripheral location would generally indicate higher status than an urban wall. light quality. and so on-that is. The vegetation in plazas is controlled. In many parts of Latin America. space organization-ordered and rectilinear as high status. In a study of San Pedro. stressing its belonging to the domain of culture. this vegetation then becomes a clear cue indicating"plazaV (that is." and an absence of vegetation. there would be a large range of noticeable differences (Rapoport. absence of vegetation. respectively. Parenthetically. which is inside courts. all acting together and congruently could not fail to get the message across. This sequence. because redundancy is high. and s o on. for example. who also have clear status. is particularly clearly developed into a code in Latin America. 1970). Colombia (Richardson. 1977:348). bamboo. smells. which is reinforced through church steeples. many of these cues are reversed: irregular layout. consistent and repeated use would lead to greater clarity o meaning since the response f . low and high.144 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT wood and thatch.a number of such cues indicated relative status: location-central as high status. the presence or absence of markets. their dress. while each cue by itself would hardly do it. which stress rectilinear. mud. arcades. As a village becomes modernized and urbanized. and central location (we will return to this point later). brick.Third. peripheral as low. "haphazard" layout of Indian or rural areas. ethnicity. important place). pleached. these types of changes occur (Rapoport. the kinds of shops and what they contained. the language spoken. the presence of visible large masses of natural vegetation versus clipped vegetation localized in plazas (and in court interiors). which can be interpreted in terms of increasing distance from "nature" toward "culture" (Vogt. Also note that. the cues described would. 1977) that would indicate status and. these are all environmental quality cues. Second. natural thatch. and red brick. Note three things. 1974).

changes and shifts in band composition reflect this in the nonfixed-feature domain. which are changed overnight. and masses of greenery People also act. In addition. animals in the street. these patterns (and others. of course. these cultural landscapes can be read to help decode major cultural attitudes. for instance. a "thing" that one can control. In simpler cultures. given the small size of the band. and dress differently. In Las Rosas.the center with whitewashed walls and red tile roofs unshaded by vegetation contrasts with the outskirts with thatched roofs. v e y subtle cues may suffice-or even no cues at all. but even then the mnemonic function of the environment may be useful. one may know what is necessary. spite fences are bullt to reflect changes in social relations (Turnbull. for Indians. the significant point is that it is possible to look at these cultural landscapes. the clarity of this code in Latin America may be due to the prevalence of this pattern. which also tell returning members what has been going on. For Ladinos. Similar events and devices are found among the Hadza (see Woodburn. social relations are well known.Urban Examples of Applications 145 would tend to become almost automatic. To . and attitudes toward nature The latter. dominate. where.Thus one can read more than just group membership and relative status. behave. nature is more objective. powerful. and interpret them fairly easily without any complex symbolic or semiotic analysis. and culture-a large set of basic attitudes (see Figure 23). but one is reminded by the environmental cues. Yet the direction of doorways communicates shifting social relations. In addition. 1961) One k n o w s these social shifts. 1964). One example is provideti by M'Buti pygmy camps. social relations. such as unpaved streets versus paved ones. and Indians in the center "do not belong" and are unacknowledged by non-Indians (Hill. mud walls. as in the case of Zanzibar. In Latin America. is s o mystical. In fact. and exploit (Hill.This is also clear from studies on the village of Ixtepeji (Kearney. Chiapas (Mexico). that is. status. attitudes. beliefs. 1972). 1964: 1 0 0 . 1 0 3 ) . 1972). Note also the greater importance o redundancy and multiple f cues in urban examples. religion. with the Moslem Stonetown and African Ngambo districts (Rapoport. 1977: 233). and compelling. Note that these patterns are formed elsewhere and may carry similar but not identical meanings. In terms of my principal argument. Indians clearly use more natural features than Ladinos because they also conceive of their habitat differently in terms of ideas. and so on) clearly communicate modernity. notice differences. that one tampers with it as little as possible-it is dominant.


the transition among domains. rigid. Sometimes even with these hoops are not used. 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. or west among the Wodaabe of Africa (Stenning. the house. in the case of a !Kung Bushman camp. such meanings need to be known. one knows where the fronts of dwellings are-they face the fire and the common space. Equivalents of the hoop-a freestanding gateway in an Arab village or Japanese farm-may indicate front or entry. and including or . 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. and s o on. At the same time. In other words. can be indicated in very subtle ways: a change in ground surface. and shared rules. cues are often not visible to the outsider at first glance. where. Similarly. Clearly. known social aspects are still important but clear physical cues are needed In traditional settlements. for example. the system would not work. 1979a. They can. or the hoop. the meaning attached to various domains. In our cities. either being known and/ or indicated by subtler cues. directions or orientation may indicate front-east among the Navaho or Bedouin. depends on consistency of use combined with consistency of location. 1 9 8 0 ~ ) . much more noticeable cues and greater redundancy-are needed (Rapoport. be discovered by observing behavior (who does what. and hence behavior shifts (see Figure 24). the social relations are known. In other cultures. a bead curtain. Without all these conditions. houses are built at least partly to indicate this. Yet. Clearly. however. This becomes clear from the fact that sometimes houses are not built. when. but the environmental cues act as mnemonics for those who are there and as indicators for those returning after an absence.Urban Examples of Applications 147 reiterate: In all these cases. indication through physical cues may be less important in traditional cultures because things are known. but a hoop in put in the ground to indicate the location of the door and hence the front. 1959). a small change in level. partly through consistent use and partly through consistent. the absence of cues or the use of very subtle cues. After all. helps remind people where men and women sit. but the knowledge can be gained easily through observation. what behavior is appropriate. the small group in question knows where the front is and how to behave. Privacy gradients. 1979a). In other cases much clearer barriers-that is.

in fact. Australian Aboriginal camps (Memmott. 1976: 122). Quebec Indians (Rapoport. 1979).and precontact African cities. . 1972). This applies to settlements of many groups-Porno Indians (Rapoport. was organization based on social relationships (Hull. where what appeared as random disorder. 1977).148 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Figure 24 excluding whom) and also through more systematic studies. Apaches (Esber. All these cases can be illustrated through a generalized diagram (see Figure 25). 1969c).

In a large U S. their dress. traditional city. and many other variables. and house styles. However. 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. sounds and smells. thus higher levels of redundancy are necessary. language. this is much less clear. such as walls. Physical cues. in terms of center-periphery and knowing where one is located. activities. as o n e moves toward the (or a) center. such cues are even more important. reinforced by kinds of people. colors and materials. city. being able to orient oneself in a city. with weaker rule systems. For example. however.Urban Examples of Applications 149 / I Figure 25 Redundancy and clarity of cues Note. combine to communicate social meaning. gates. o n e would . In cities of more complex and pluralistic societies. is easy in a small.and nonfixed-feature elements.

this is not too difficult to obtain either by sensitive observation or other means. and reinforce one another. once one's attention is drawn t o them.150 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT generally expect greater traffic density. tall buildings. interpretation can follow. If all these cues add up. narrowerstreets. run-down areas. with the notion that old = bad). less clear or unclear (Rapoport. the greater the required redundancy to produce sufficiently clear cues. frequent corners. in turn. more shops. 1977: 156). Note two things: First. 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. which is said to be fully compatible with that hypothesis (Leeming. and s o on. These judgments were made on the basis of the general appearance of the area. the more complex and culturally pluralist the setting. 1968). including short flights of steps in the street. Consider the judgments about "overriding poverty" in the Kowloon City area of Hong Kong made by an English observer. . age. these cues are sufficiently strong and redundant to draw attention to the area vis-a-vis other areas. and changes in level. greater difficulty in parking. 1968). Steinitz. and second. Among the cues making up that "general appearance" are: The "extreme antiquity" of the area (that is. more trafficlights." In fact. tribal (primitive) environments through traditional vernacular ones to modern ones. particularly since many people are then "outsiders. thus defining a problem area (see Figure 26). as one goes from preliterate. the context. there is a matching of perceived characteristics against a schema or image. This interpretation requires cultural knowledge. most examples in such situations involve large numbers of cues so that noticeable differences are present. Thus. This. the indications could be quite clear. if not. older buildings. but . that is. 1977. is indicated by narrow streets and narrower lanes. Clearly. more signs (neon and s o on). 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. as I have been arguing. higher levels of activity.

such as the Yaman and Temple. related to the organization . and lack of street lighting. In village areas within Kowloon City: irregular placing of low buildings. In the case of North Carolina in the 1920s. Figure 26 Other cues include open drains. that is. piles of rotting refuse in unfrequented spots. lack of light.Urban Examples of Applications 151 mmbaI. gentle curves in most streets. a contrast developed (with social conflict consequences. In urban parts of Kowloon City: overhanging buildings. noise from factories. occasional patches of vegetation. high walls and gates in traditional building types.

cleanliness and litter.S. houses. What seems important here is that many people would. quickly and easily make such inferences from these urban cues: It is clearly a majority view. mixed uses. urban areas. particularly since different interpretations are possible (as we shall see later). empty lots. and so on. These are all used to judge the nature of areas . as signs of appropriation and as "territorial markers" (Ley andcybriwsky. absence of trees. This involves additional cues. and racial minorities-all the "stereotypic components of the uncivilized world" (Rubin. They thus show that new types of semifixed-feature cues can develop and acquire meaning relatively quickly and easily. grilles on shops. 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.152 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT of communication among people) between millvillages and new suburbs (Glass. crime levels. such as location. redundancy usually reinforces these judgments. These are interesting because they have become major indicators of urban meaning yet are relatively new. I am not concerned with the specific study. winding avenues many (and new) cars [paved streets] Urban cues Many such cues are still used in U. alienation. the nature of resident groups. They w o ~ ~ use ld graffiti to judge environmental quality and hence desirability of areas. 1974). 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. Since differing interpretations of graffiti are possible-for example. maintenance levels generally. and I will turn to those after commenting on graffiti. lawlessness. boardedup buildings. in fact. pollution levels. and many other noticeable differences. and hence safety. 1979: 340-341). lawns. A v e y high correlation can be predicted between graffiti and negative judgments about a large set of urban characteristics. urban poverty.

a newspaper story. or failed or moved businesses. according to a newspaper story. and naturally these judgments are made can be seen initially from three examples: from scholarly research. ugly faces" . and the fact that they seemed so self-evident as not to require comment. the extremely high correlation of such judgments. dirty and crumbling bricks. alleys and back streets show the backs of these same buildings with rusting fire escapes. themselves are ind~cated cues) by surface parking lots vacant buildings with "squat. whether they are upgrading.Thus. For example. made on the basis of a ten-minute trip per street. improvements. and so on. the assumptions underlying their choice. unlit electric signs. and the like. 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. quickly. Julian Wolpert was reporting on a major neighborhood study. while facades along West Wisconsin Avenue between N 4th a n d N 9th streets have been spruced up. This involved those cues that could be observed while driving down the street. at a seminar at the Department of Geography. The cues observed included abandoned shops. with household surveys involving a great deal more effort. Jerusalem. upkeep of house facades. quality of landscaping (if any). stable. quality of garbage pickup." a set of cues is described that tell even a casual observer that "things are not as nice as they might be. In describing part of downtown Milwaukee that. is "sagging. 1980). Hebrew University. gangs of young people hanging around corners.Urban Examples of Applications 153 and their environmental quality. or declining How easily. whlle the visitor with a keen eye and understanding feet might come away with a much more negative impression" (Manning and Aschoff. and second. and a novel. Part of that study consisted of a windshield survey of environmental quality. Two things were of interest in terms of our discussion: first. 1979. on December 26. the selection of items or cues to be observed.

what the physical cues indicate Note how self-evident all these seem to the journalists concerned. 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. a mismatch with expectations. 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. ill-advised uses o land that should be most valuable (that f is. 1977) general atmosphere that scares people. although on a smaller scale: a motley collection of couches in the lobby with stuffing poking out of holes in plastic covers . 1969b). from a detective novel. some vacant. the attempt is to describe an area of downtown Los Angeles.98). newspapers. In this case (Childs. gathering in aimless groups men with stubbled chins drinking cheap red wine and muscatel from bottles in paper bags people in ragged. of course. Equally self-evident and taken for granted are the cues used to communicate meaning and to set a scene in the next example. and the like (Rapoport. 1979: 90-92.) 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.154 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT incongruous. which can be used without engaging in formal content analysis (Rapoport. see Rapoport. 1977). dirty overcoats huddling o n benches pawnshops hotel with windows o n the first two floors covered with heavy wire screens grimy shops. are related to the argument I have made before about the importance of analyzing novels. Both of these examples. who d o not like the way downtown "looks"-that is. 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.

Consider two examples: the use of remote sensing. and setback (5) orientation.This term is clearly a'n image or schema against which the perceived cues are matched. condition. is extremely striking and impressive. and specific cues identified. in turn. shape. S o is the implicit fact that not only are the cues taken to be self-evident. It can be shown to work. all from the United States. hazards. In o n e study. through more systematic work. size of lot. including eight design features. and sidewalk location (4) lot shape. site coverage. and spacing of houses (6) garbage and driveway location (7) roof design and materials . 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. as surrogates for the age. or of drawings or retouched photographs. which. and size of housing: (1)variety of housing. The basic agreement between these three descriptions of areas on the basis of sets of cues. 1 9 7 9 :98). but all that is involved is observation and fairly direct-and very rapid-interpretation. The very fact is significant that remote sensing techniques can be used to identify physical surrogates. that is. higher quality than subdivision (2) block size or shape (3) presence or absence of alleys. seem to be good indicators of social and economic conditions of a given population and their area.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. 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. It is a simple process.

1969). a horse in a suburban setting had very negative meaning. It was also fairly easy to discover the nature of specific cues-the presence of people and animals. good street upkeep. occupying various locations in the street. 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. planting. clearly all these cues are remarkably similar to those already described-and still to be discussed. the high-quality environment is well maintained. (Howard et al. and so on. For example. 1973. Generally. in an exurban setting. The opposite set of cues indicates a low-quality environment. etc. indicating high status through . Royse.This influence of street recreation on areas being identified as slums has already been illustrated and is found generally (Rapoport. and how these interacted in complex ways. and so on. but also how easily they judged the social meaning of areas. garbage. By retouching photographs onevariable at a time and showing the results to three population groups-upper. children playing. types of people and animals present. it is possible to identify specific cues more rigorously. in the street or on the steps. middle.. the context and situation. little litter. 1977). Note that the three groups differed in the consistency of their inferences. steps. their status.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. topography. has wellmaintainedvegetation. the upper group being the most consistent and the lower group being the least. 1977). 1974) Basically. and litter. Through the use of drawings or retouched photographs. adequate but not too luxurious vegetation (Duncan. see Keesing. patios. An example of the latter is a major study by Royse (1969). 1979). Context was important once again. architectural details. materials. low-status indicator (even when the people themselves actually engaged in such behavior-a difference between cultural knowledge and behavior. the meaning was very positive. the presence of recreation in the street was seen as a negative. and few commercial structures. The former were used in Baltimore. window flower boxes and the like were added-and people made clear and explicit social judgments on that basis (Brower. few vacant lots. and lower socioeconomic levels-it became possible to discover their preferences. where drawings of street facades had additions-such as people performing various activities.

a n d . For example. In Britain. were themselves inferred from cues present in a single photograph Among the variables that changed the meaning of particular settings were: vegetation. and lack of uniformity generally (ArchitectsJournal. all groups. notions of environmental quality have to do with the meanings they have. saw the natural landscape as having much more positive meaning. the former being positive. implied density. however." that is. which we have already discussed. for . is what gives extremely different meanings. to a village and a housing estate. It also reinforces the major point that. identified them as indicating lower-class people. a vlllage environment implies a variety of architecture and a degree of "incoherence": different styles. types of people. buildings at different angles. meaning.In other words. and black children. roof pitches. natural landscape negatively. Wisconsin (Rapoport. 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. materials." but context ("appropriateness") was important. The form of planting also had meaning. This fits in well with the different landqcapes found in Westchester (Duncan. 1981). "interesting" and "intimate" groupings (in themselves inferential judgments). 1973) and other high-status enclaves. 1979). and spatial cues. on the contray. the latter negative. such as River Hills. like design needs and environmental quality. Note that "suburban" or "exurban. Fences influenced quality and "friendliness. and hence environmental quality ratings. natural vegetation such as gorse and heath grasses. which led to the identification of public housing as such (the presence of white children had no impact). Lower density was important to the upper group. but different meanings for different groups.Urban Examples of Applications 157 inferred recreational patterns. but not for the lower. the rural image. Thus the middle group evaluated highly manicured planting positively and wild. mixed age and income of people. Appearance was important and exterior maintenance influenced judgments greatly. hence. that is. generally. 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. we find a series o cues that mean "village" since they are f congruent with the image of village-positive in this case. unlike. is culture specific. but not to the lower. these contexts. The high group.

The former. In the United States generally. lush vegetation has a very different meaning to that traditionally found in Latin America. and the Anglo-American culture area more broadly. even here the differences are smaller than in the case of other elements. property values tend t o go down compared to comparable areas with no tree loss. generally being identified with high status (Rapoport. everything is rich in beauty. it uses an affective evocative quote from Crabbe (without defining "village"): "Thy walks are ever pleasant.The pygmies also go through rites of passage as they move from one of these worlds . At the same time. Generally. 1974). once seen as positive. 1976: 53)-although the evidence here being presented suggests that even in the human-made environment there is much agreement. has become negative. 1976).158 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT example. lively or serene" (Architects Journal. the M'Buti pygmies regard the forest as good. 1979). the positive or negative meaning of these. Its changes can be studied historically-and have been. whereas the adjacent Bantu farmers see the latter as good and the former as bad (Turnbull. a sales brochure makes clear that it is the "village image" that is being sold. 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. where such cues may be seen as negative. in the Midwest and in this case in Milwaukee.Thus nature/culture as a distinction seems almost universal and is often expressed through the contrast natural/human-made or controlled. 1977). It is also possible to find adjoining cultural groups giving contrary meanings to environments. and vice versa-their meanings as "sacred" and "profane" have reversed (Tuan. Thus a student was able to show in a term paper that when trees are removed. This suggests that nature forms a domain separate from the human-made and is evaluated separately (Rapoport. However. Similarly. Thus. as we have seen. Note how frequently planting and vegetation enter into the reading of meaning. 1977). however. 1961: 53-54). In the case being discussed. One example is the major change in the meaning given wild mountain scenery with the Romantic Movement (Nicolson. subcultural differences are found relating to the amount of vegetation and its naturalness. a complete reversal has occurred between the meanings of city and wilderness. 1959). can change. for example due to Dutch elm disease. the plantations and fields as bad. population decline is also greater in the former than in the latter (Schroeder. in the United States over the past 200 years. in a Third World context.

exclusion of undesirable people. loss of services. and. Thus if o n e considers high-income groups. In terms of our earlier discussion. as we shall see. which influences appearance. people manifesting delinquency or hippiness). These are all seen as urban threats and have negative meaning. signs indicating crime. increased noise. violence. 1969). of the cases under consideration. accessibility to desired uses (recreation. above all. 1972). as was the case between Wahroonga and Vaucluse. generally. grilles on shops. high perceived density is based on inferences made by matching perceived characteristics. upper-class areas can have different environment quality variables. and s o on). vegetation. Also. natural/humanmade) but with different meanings attached to them. or rural image. against certain contexts. high-income areas can be identified through privacy. reduced green open space. changes indicating negative qualities include reduced maintenance and hence deterioration of houses.ure. character of houses. one does find differing choices made. they lead to a fear that crowding will develop (Carson. and delinquency (boarded-up shops. increased traffic congestion. graffiti. images. and the like) and distance from undesirable uses (the nature of these and the proximities can also be studied. large lot size. historically. Thus in Detroit. One could argue that in many. many of which are related to maintenance. that is profane and the village humanized and habitable (Fernandez. industrial and commercial development. then.Urban Examples of Applications 159 to the other-for them the village is profane. 1977: 32). Thus. Australia Yet. natural amenities. 1977: 88-89). 1977)-a contrast similar to the two periods in the United States discussed above. Note that many of these qualities are based on maintenance. and many of the specific cues indicating environmental quality. in the Anglo-American cul(Rapoport. or wilderness. i. schemata. although not all. . is the general notion of maintenance. it is the bush. such choices tend to be closer to the Wahroonga. parks. 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. at the urban scale. Underlying much of our discussion here. street cleanliness. we find the use of a common set of variables setting up contrasts (in this case. who have maximum choice. Peterson and Worall. 1974). outmigration of "good" people and inmigration of "bad" people (for example. many recreational facilities generally. in Sydney. exclusive golf and c o u n t y clubs. for the Fang. But even here one finds some regularity. and s o on (Backler. the meaning of the area is related to maintenance in its broadest sense.


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 .

2). Similarly.162 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT and norms. Wisconsin. low perceived age and no obsolescence). this image also explains the form of that development. shrubs. the Netherlands (see Jaanus and Nieuwenhuijse. a mixture of one. the basic positive meaning of residential environments is still summed u p by the suburban image. This suburban image. and privacy (Peterson. such as greenery. appearance of expensiveness. and newness were important. 1967a.and two-story houses as opposed to all two-story. and harmony with nature. curved streets as opposed to the grid. the absence of shops and restaurants. an absence of monotony. Suburban image In the United States. Greenery seems to be rather less important in the case of other countries. low perceived density as opposed to high perceived density. naturalness. see Rapoport. subdued colors as opposed to bright colors. low degree of enclosure versus high degree of enclosure. high levels of maintenance with no deterioration or disorder. The context is of two-story. low complexity versus high complexity: lawns. nineteenth. The last was sufficiently important to lead to a higher ranking being given to high-rise development vis-a-vis old.and earlytwentieth-century frame houses on narrow lots (see Beckley. "superblocks" with culs-de-sac as opposed to "pass-through streets. open space. 1978)." contrasting with the negative connotations of the above urban environment. absence of corner shops. In this case. for example. traditional environments that designers would rank much more positively. road and site layouts that communicate a feeling of spaciousness and privacy. includes the name "Parkview" (for downtown housing!. and a variety of trees freely arranged versus large elms in lines along the streets (now gone due to Dutch elm disease). The new housing is clearly meant to be "suburban. the street pattern is a grid. the sensory cues indicating positive environmental quality often include appearance of newness (that is. contrasting with the urban. churches. 1977). The variables that communicate that image are clearly revealed by new center-city housing in Milwaukee. and the like versus their presence. mixed forms of housing as opposed to a f single type. 1967b). but o the "universal" suburban ranch-style variety rather than the midwest frame. the use of many cues. while green spaces had little influence on positive meaning. . Note two things: the nature of the cues as well as the high level of redundancy. 1977: ch. This unmistakable message is reinforced in the actual experience of these environments.

e. and so forth. follows (from Rapoport. large building height to space (i.the suggestion is that not all need be present for environments to be judged as o n e or the other. Note that in the above case.Urban Examples of Applications 163 the transitions. and how these cues reinforce or cancel each other are subjects for research. associational. adaptation levels. 1975c: 138-140. it is interesting to note that many of the cues agree well with a list of cues proposed as indicating low perceived density. 1 9 7 5 ~ )A partial list of these hypothesized cues . difficult to define at the moment. that are matched against norms and ideals to make judgments of acceptability and desirability (Rapoport.reference cites deleted). 1976. little subtended building in the field of vision) few signs few lights and low artificial light levels ..which car] be interpreted partly in these terms) Dense Perceptual tight spaces intricate spaces open spaces simple spaces Not Dense These terms are. our discussion so far and the Milwaukee example support this notion (see also McLaughlin. 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. They also seem intuitively clear to most people-admitting that they are a matter of degree and affected by culture. fixed-feature elements play an important role in establishing meaning. They can be discussed in terms of complexity. The notion of that concept is that a variety of physical. and sociocultural cues are used to make inferences about the density of areas. of course. Moreover. Clearly the list of cues.e . At the same time. It is these inferences. and contrasts as one moves through them This helps us further to understand the intended meaning and how it is communicated (see Figure 27). not actual density in people per unit area. although semifixed-feature elements-particularly vegetation-are important. the number needed to infer densities and hence the meaning of areas.

and the like). would be read v e y differently (e. apartments. tall buildings. the presence of fences. the same number of people in an environmental configuration that exposes them to others.g.. 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. compounds.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. then. 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. . courtyards. or isolates them.

meeting places.e. lead~ng judgments of less effective space being available and hence of higher densities. and s o on Not Dense low levels of "attractive stimuli" the presence of other adjacent places for use-streets. 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. f feeling o lack of control. parks. more traffic.. meeting places. or freedom. shops. choice. more people visible. control of environment . streets. 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. In this case the presence of nonresidential uses leads to higher rates of information from the environment itself. 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.Urban Examples of Applications 165 Dense high levels of "attractive stimuli" the absence of other adjacent places for use-streets. and freedom. and s o forth. and so on Thus the availability of many nondwelling places-pubs. There are thus two contradictory effects with complex results. the house-settlement system) will affect the perception of density. lead~ng to judgments of more effective space being available and hence of lower densities. control by environment feeling of presence of control. Where they are present and used extensively. and the like-that can be used by people and whether they are actually used (i. to choice.

. Not Dense social homogeneity along some subjectively defined dimensions-hence increased predictability and redundancy and lower effective density in terms o informationf processing needs. that lack of control means lack of pressure to make decisions and hence the perception of less density.adaptation level at high densities) . Dense social heterogeneity along some subjectively defined dimensions-hence increased unpredictability. 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 low densities) previous experience. socialization. and higher effective density in terms of informationprocessing needs. defined as the control of unwanted interaction and alsovia social norms defining behavior appropriate to various density situations. and so on. not sharing rules. the inability to read symbols and cues. and hence acting appropriately One example might be agreement about rules regarding private/ public and front/back domains. 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. socialization. These feelings may differ for various groups-by sex. nonverbal behavior. and hence acting inappropriately culture. This suggests that density and crowding are related via privacy.166 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT The alternative hypothesis.e. sharing of rules.e. and s o forth at high densities (i. and s o forth at low densities (i. age. ability to read cues and symbols.. and s o on. reduced redundancy.

yards. houses not crowded and too close together. expressed in terms of average number of stories of dwellings and the number of dwellings visible within 150 meters (Metcalf. and s o on also fit into this framework. among others. untidiness. and streets. that it is the latent aspect.. in attaching positive meaning to those cues that indicate low perceived density. 1977). the meaning of which depends on a contrast between those seen as positive and those seen as negative. short dwelling rows and individuality of dwellings. poor road surfaces. Their meaning is due to the fact that they are surrogates for people-or for particular types of people. industrial invasion. and natural features. good privacy. homogeneity with " g o o d people. low child density (an important variable in many studies.Urban Examples of Applications 167 The impact of poor maintenance. many trees. Errnuth. absence of nonresidential uses. hence variety rather than monotony in design. good maintenance of landscape. Consider a study in Atlanta in which well-being in residential areas was correlated with various environmental characteristics (James et al. as much open space as possible. the image and meaning of recreation.That this interpretation is true is confirmed by the finding in Britain. that is. lawns. Moreover. that are important). rather than use. or manifest aspects. 1974). or spaciousness. that the best predictor of satisfaction in residential areas is low perceived density-for example. This becomes even clearer when we consider suggestions for making townhouses and condominia more acceptable. as we have seen. pleasant views. litter. 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). What the Milwaukee housing and the other examples try to do. most of the studies dealing with environmental quality in Anglo-American culture are remarkably consistent. low noise levels. 1976). and s o on (see Norcross. shrubs. . dwellings. absence of nuisances. high pollution levels and noise.These characteristics can be intkrpreted as cues. have them communicate more positive meanings. 'These are all related to indicating the lowest possible perceived density (and the associated higher status): the presence of recreational facilities (recall. reduction of greenery. Burby et al. associated both with maintenance and perceived density). 1973.. then. 1974. graffiti. however.

or flowers many parked cars (no off-street parking) presence of commercial." i. fringe commercial.. bushes. railroads. curved Streets. parking.e.e.168 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Positive much open space residential pocket away from the bustle of urban activity separated from traffic. rather than lawns and shrubs (i. Negative congested proximity to libraries. culs-de-sac. etc. freeways high pedestrian densities and many visitors bare dirt. vacant lots few trees.. well-maintained lawns. and public facilities distant from arterial streets and hence public transport absence of outsiders much grass. sports fields. no lawns between buildings and streets heavy littering presence of weeds front areas with vegetables. etc. 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. industrial.. diverse landscaping) little effort at landscaping unkempt. 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 . public health centers. indicated by "contemporary street patterns. schools.

S. 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." keeping strangers out of neighborhoods. particularly since movement and mobility. a men's house. 1977). also have meaning. 1979). because they are there as cues of positive environmental quality. 1968. where a large black area begins (Milwaukee Journal. I have argued in a number of places that interaction best occurs in what I call neutral places among homogeneous. 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). use. Second. of course. or whatever. low perceived density. it may be sufficient to suggest that the inferences made about people by reading physical environments influence and help organize social relations and interaction. to block a street called West Drive at its north end. Suttles. Recall that one set of cues of environmental quality had to do with the absence of strangers. What it tried to communicate was: This . 1972)? In this connection. o r defensible space (Newman. year long attempt by white residents of the Hein Park neighborhood in Memphis. what cues indicate "owned" areas. even more. and. neighborhood stability. territory and s o on7 This clearly requires cultural knowledge. But two questions came up First. At this point." Actual physical boundaries are also important. need to be noticed. desirable areas. Tennessee. However. 2). particularly their latent aspects. I have pointed out elsewhere that many traditional cities restrict mobility while the U. generally. land. what cues indicate neutrality-location. which. 1977: ch. 1977: 21). city stresses it and facilitates it in prim ciple (Rapoport. reduce actual mobility and penetration. slnce it may be a grocery. and "obeyed.Urban Examples of Applications 189 also Rapoport. I would argue that the major purpose of this attempt was"symbolic"-it was at the level of meaning. While this would. 1971. desirable not only because they can be used and. however. understood. owned areas (Rapoport. They are seen as desirable also because they can become a "no-man'!. a teahouse. o n e finds that parks are seen a:.We thus begin to see a potential relation between environmental meaning and social interaction or communication-a topic to be discussed in Chapter 7. much is made of "symbol~c" boundaries.

These tend to reduce or eliminate conflict. the analysis of fences tells much about Mormon culture (as can the analysis of other artifacts). and to define entry or exclusion. or high crime-rates that make their use necessary. attempting to exclude particular groups (see Barth. 1969. and so on. whether about appropriate behavior or appropriation. it was. be a "badge of slavery. All communicate meanings the basic function of which is to reinforce basic cultural categories.Wellman. By marking them. becomes very significant. doorways and thresholds. As one subtle point: The number of gates indicated the number of wives a man had (Leone. once again. where fences are common. and their spatial equivalents. however this is done. rather than in purely instrumental or manifest terms. In the latter. that is." Thus mobility and equal access to all parts of the city. "closed". the closure would. This is. the court said. Clearly. 1973). Context. forthcoming ) . while all cultures distinguish among domains. is important. the use of fences is much more variable. is helped by clear and unambiguous markers-noticeable differences of all kinds. which must precede understanding and behavior. 1977. again depending on context. 1 9 7 8 . marking perceived differences among two groups and setting up social boundaries. as well as their opposites. the court's refusal was also on such grounds of meaning.Also.Rapoport. One could argue that the blocked street is a boundary cue. it is clear that in a place such as England or Australia. It is important to mark boundaries. their perception. Consider fences. of course. This relates to the discussion above of the environment as a mnemonic. related to our earlier discussion about boundary markers as objects (fixed feature or semifixed feature). are seen at the level of meaning. contrasting meanings. or some areas of the United States. noticeable and recognizable effective reminders and warnings are created. and good upkeep. and the corresponding domains. of course. Significantly.170 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT neighborhood is homogenous. Their absence can similarly have two analogous. as being about human communication or social relations. once again. Social boundaries. boundary-marking rituals (nonfixed feature in time or space). and to contrast what these boundaries define or contain. they may indicate appropriation. The question has been raised as to why fences are s o common in Mormon areas. domains. In that case. . are not necessarily spatial or physical but. Thus the whole notion of indicating boundaries by means of noticeable differences to delineate social groups. they have different meanings than in places where they are rare. 1977). concern. and mark boundaries. if you will. the equivalent of walled developments (Rapoport.

the latter interpretation is more likely since ambiguous cues are matched against a shared schema of "appropriation" or "slum. "territorial markers" (see Ley and Cybriwsky. 1971). its rules and schemata." 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. W e have seen that frequently they are seen as signs of highly negative environmental quality. signs of vandalism. refrigerators. and hence lead to social behaviors. In this connection we can return to graffiti.it is clear that signs of disintegration of the social order.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. for example. motorcycles. one person's lived-in area is another person's slum. that is. In other words. and litter. T o most others. vandalism. with resultant fear. As another example. and so on. are extremely important in fear of crime.. Given our discussion in this chapter.the presence of personal objects and the like. there is a question about how appropriation is indicated Regarding maintenance. or washing machines on porches. we have seen how particular forms of landscaping can be misinterpreted as neglect (Sherif and Sherif. 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. and the like can indicate either appropriation or the existence of a "slum". 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. they communicate the ownership of territories and turfs to teenagers and gangs-that is. such as high crime rates. of defended neighborhoods. For example. they d o not communicate those meanings but others. Yet these cues can be ambiguous: The presence of a set of objects such as "junk" and stripped cars. While many of the cues having to d o with maintenance and the like communicate this. 1979). an attempt to overcome anomie. it is often suggested that appropriation is indicated by personal~zation. The cues will elicit appropriate responses if understood.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. 1963). they are markers of group boundaries. 1974). or as signs of appropriation. They can also be seen as an art form. including physical deterioration. Thus all the signs we have been dis- . however. of crime. Perceived crime and its fear has low correspondence to actual crime.

1979. 1976.there is considerable agreement about the elements (detached dwellings. romantic rooflines. Sauer. and so on. 1979d). litter. lawns. Ahlbrandt and Brophy. garden yrnaments. vandalism. in turn. variety and complexity in design. 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. 1977: 26) the now familiar cues are used: garbage and trash strewn around. by inferences regarding the definition of the social situation." In other words. good maintenance and appearance. where the particular cues indicate a particular group of people who are. It thus influences the cues present and hence the meaning of areas: Good management leads to good maintenance and is communicated through it. Brower. types of front doors and mailboxes. The elements come from history.. see a review by Rapoport. and the like) . individual freedom. This has to do with the role of management in ensuring good maintenance. then. that is. bad upkeep. detached. evaluated as "good1' and "bad. low perceived density. and high social status indicate good people and hence high environmental quality: They are positive meanings. 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. personal identity. and the estates of the rich (Venturi and Rauch. nostalgia. such as avoidance. patriotism. rural life. by extension. 1976). of urban management. 1977. low child density. 1977). 1977. privacy. social homogeneity. social homogeneity. and increasingly elsewhere. 1977. Hole. social aspirations. 1977) and. This is the significance of the argument above about the differing interpretations of the libertarian suburb (Barnett. Beck and Teasdale. the point stressed throughout: environmental quality variables are such because they have social meaning. rural image. vandalism. varied houses. and many others-all communicate social status. The physical elements of suburbia-winding roads. This is. It is interesting that in judging an area as a "mess" in one such study (Sauer. of course. bare earth. and so on.172 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT cussing that stand for slum also imply crime: the two meanings are linked. purely residential uses. coach lanterns. Thus. disregarding major disagreement one may have about the validity of meanings of suburbia discussed by Perin (1977. in AngloAmerican culture. This. has clear behavioral consequences. As in all other cases. an abandoned car in the middle of the site.

These settings did more than fulfill the needs of people. protective metal grilles. once marked. they stood for the nature of the area-they communicated its meaning. how late they stayed open. 1973). or as high class-or even as back areas. absence of mixed land uses. groceries. at the lurn of the century. clubs. bakeries. business strips often define areas as "skid rows" and as deteriorating. For example. Nebraska. that is. litter.Urban Examples of Applications 173 and the fact that it is the meaning of these that is most important. Their presence along particular stretches of roads led to the identification of the surrounding neighborhood as belongingto Bohemians. variety of house styles. which days they closed. special recreational facilities. they tend to travel along well-defined routes As a result. the maintenance of which is seen as the role of planning [see Werthman. corner shops. Similarly. . All the cues indicate status and lifestyle s o that lawns." deteriorating or upgrading based on sets o cues such as types of shops. are all ways of establishing and maintaining a particular image. boarded u p or empty shops. landscaping. as did the nature of the new shops. in Omaha. and so on (Ginsberg. In the case of an area in Matappan. Massachusetts. which may exist at the neighborhood scale (for example. Thus one frequently judges areas through shopping streets and arterials f as "bad" or "good. and s o forth. it was found that the people remaining became aware of the change when certain stores and institutions disappeared from the shopping areas. they frequently make judgments on the basis of what is perceived along that route. Italians. It is meaning that is the raison d'&trefor the particular definition of environmental quality. even more important was the location of that group's businesses and social and religious institutions-the churches. therefore. One also infers the ethnic character of areas behind these arterial streets. it was found that although the proportion of an ethnic group living in particular areas was significant in judging its ethnic character. 1 9 7 2 . 1975). The suburban environment is intended to maintain the distinctions among groups. which are judged in terms of the environments in which they live. even religious buildings. of communicating social meanings and identity. restaurants. lanes). 1968) As people move through cities (as well as landscapes). and these groups. are included or excluded. changing from being a Jewish area to becoming a black area. butcher shops. or Jews-even if they constituted a minority of that area: The visibility of the cues along the arterial routes was significant (Chudacoff.

As one example. They have major functions in communicating tneanings and they can also define the ethnic. empty lots.. signs advertising particular kinds of foodsthe types of people encountered. 1963). that is. and can be interpreted as expressions of culture since their material features have cultural meanings. an area of London. etc. and so on. . colors. their clothing (style. One could compare maintenance levels of shops. In the case of a black business street in Chicago (Pred. through observation. it was then possible to move easily to a more systematic.). vocal and other nonverbal behaviors the variety of varied uses (which could be counted) types of shops facades of shops. and many other specific variables. This could be done impressionistically. how bar facades are treated (open versus closed). Note. 1972). once again. One could clearly discriminate between various types of shopping streets and make judgments and inferences about them and the people in them. number of vacant shops. Cues observed included: sounds generally. and shops. income or racial character of areas. to compare specific combinations of uses. color). Thus business thoroughfares not only contrast with residential areas. Thus in Southall. service establishment. their behavior. we use such cues to judge the takeover of areas by ethnic groups. and to identify what was sold in groceries or served in restaurants. noise levels. I would suggest that we customarily use them in very similar ways to judge all kinds of environments in our daily lives. but with each other. 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. the redundancy of cues in a range of sensory modalities.g. in the way I have been describing. 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. quantitative comparison of the distribution of different uses. musical sounds types of people (e. Anderson and Moore. regional scale.g. storefront churches.174 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT at the urban scale.

the music on the jukebox is Indian. journalist. the oriental store. 1966). Moreover. used in unobtrusive measures (see Webb et al. there are temples. or IJrdu. in a walk through Southall (or other comparable areas). jukebox.their expressive movements. Smells are of curry. cues such as bilingual street signs. language. or layperson-allows the cues and their meanings to be read easily Many of these noticeable differences in various sensory modalitiec. pitted plastic tile floor. and s o o n (Webb et a1 . the manufacture o f Cuban types of cigarettes. These communicate a variety of meanings. two yearsfollowing Castro's takeover of Cuba. Atypical English pub. the Bank of Baroda branch office. posters advertising Indian entertainment. Indian driving schools and insurance offices. 1966: 119) all clearly communicated social change . and rigid divisions among "public. newspapers on the back seats of parked cars are in Punjabi."'stores with Spanish names." "saloon. signs in shops saying "Se Habla Espanol. Spanish radio broadcasts. where they are found and their temporal distribution (who does what. Florida. there are no women. spices. supermarkets carry a wide variety of Asian foods. activities. Spanish newspapers and Span~sh-languageeditorials in English-language newspapers. Those doors that are open reveal.Urban Examples of Applications 175 and how they are dressed all quickly suggest an Asian takeover. where people live and their location in public space. One sees hardly any white faces. Exterior physical signs in the fixedand semifixed-feature domains. and many others. a stroll through that area by any observer-designer. when. the Punjabi grocers. that is. newspaper shops are full of Asian papers and magazines. most of the cues are in the semifixed. a totally different culture (Sydney Morning Herald 1972. In Miami. At a larger scale. Spanish services held in forty Miami churches. clothing and possessions.and nonfixed-feature realm: The streets and the buildings have not changed Also. and Indian food. with a heavy wooden bar. the use of Spanish by half the people in streets. and so on)." and "private bars" becomes a different place because all the people are Asians. Latin American foods on restaurant menus. This is clearly merely a more extreme version of what we have been discussing. are cues that can be seen as examples of erosion or accretion trace1. where. Hindi. Cuban foods sold in supermarkets. clothing in shops is different. and including or excluding whom). behind the facades of typical English suburban architecture. Bethnal Green. communicate urban meanings and are accessible through observation.. cinemas show Indian films. we pass the Kenya Butchery. personal observation in Southall.

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. the presence of men conversing around coffee stands and the type of coffee served.176 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Within that city. by using one's senses and thinking about what one notices. the use only of Spanish. aromas of spices. and the general atmosphere and ambience (Rapoport. indeed. . derive meanings. What is striking in all these analyses and descriptions is how easy it seems to be. 1977: 152-153). certain areas with particularly high concentrations of Cubans. The strength of such cues would make them difficult to miss and would influence human behavior and communication. and make social inferences. The similarity of this to the processes of nonverbal communication as commonly understood does. seem striking. to read the environment. encouraging some and discouraging others from entering or penetrating such areas.

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. MEANING. can also be considered in such termsthat IS. 1966. 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. as a form of nonverbal communication. material objects and art~factsare used to organize soclal relations through encoded in forms and nonverbal communication. to askwhat is meant by "environment"? In dealing with this question in a part~cular way. however. 1974. Scheflen. the case It is also generally the anthropological view that in all cultures. there have been some hints that this is. ii seems useful to ask whether environmental meaning. and scattered elsewhere in this volume. 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.ENVIRONMENT. 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. Toward the end of Chapter 6. but one need<. Siegman and Feldstein. 1978). indeed. I will also address the issue of the distinction between .

Both are guided by schemata that act as templates. . 1 9 7 9 b . But when environments are being designed. that is. it can be suggested that the environment can be seen as a series of relationships between things and things. 1977): space time communication meaning There is some degree of ambiguity in the use of the terms "communication" and "meaning. four elements are being organized (Rapoport. 1979a. the relationships are primarily. these terms still seem the best available to describe what is being discussed. 1980b." "Communication" refers to verbal or nonverbal communication among people. Since. 1 9 8 0 ~ ) . Moos. organizing both people's lives and the settings for their lives. 1 9 7 6 b . see Rapoport. These relationships are orderly. While all environments constitute complex interrelationships among these four elements. 1977).178 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT meaning and communication and. it is useful conceptually to separate them and discuss them as though they were separate. since this leads to a better understanding of the nature of environments and the relationships between meaning and communication. all of which discuss possible components of this term." which is too broad a term to be used successfully (as are"culturen and many others. finally. while "meaning" refers to nonverbal communication from the environment to people. the relationship between these two is the most important. However. as it were. 1974. for our purposes here. and people and people. spatial-objects and people are related through various degrees of separation in and by space. 1 9 6 0 . Lawton. Rapoport. There are different ways of conceptualizing "the environment. Different conceptualizations of the term "environment" have been proposed (Ittelson. 1977. I will first briefly discuss space and time (for a more complete discussion. 1 9 8 0 ~ ) . Before discussing these. try to relate these three terms. In the case of the environment. 1970. although not exclusively. things and people. 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. see Rapoport.

distances. Thus we advertise watches as . however. values. in cases where the system ceases to work. representing the congruence (or. and can. through those. Lowenthal and Prince. The first refers to large-scale. Space organization is. however. the lack of congruence) between physical space and social space. also be seen as the organization of time reflecting and influencing behavior in time This may be understood in at least two major ways.Environment. live in time as well as space-the environment is also temporal. hence. and relationsh~ps between people and people. "see" and evaluate space differently make any definition of space difficult. things and things. 1964. environment Thus in India. Organization of time People. the future as an improvement over the past versus the future as likely to be worse. and purposes of the individuals or groups doing the organizing At the same time. Such time structuring also influences how lime ~svalued and. 1965). 1964) In the case of the United States and Britain. the way in which these separations (and linkages) occur and is central in understanding. for example) that otherwise would have disappeared. future orientation versus past orientation. analyzing. therefore. space is the three-dimensional extension of the world around us. and comparing built environments. space organjzation also reflects ideal images. the intervals. how finely it is subdivided Into limits. the cyclic view of time (as opposed to our linear conception) has helped preserve elements (plants and animals. then. the respectwe future and past orientations have also led to very different cultural landscapes (Lowenthal. This influences behavior and decisions and. 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. whether cultures or subcultures such as designers and the lay public. Intuitively. and has also helped shape the character of cities (Sopher. people and things. 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. cognitive structuring of time such as linear flow (typical of our own culture) versus cyclic time (much more typical of many traditional cultures). Meaning. which reflect the activities. 1968.

whereas in traditional Pueblo culture. respectively. temporal. Groups with different tempos may never communicate. recurrent ceremonial assemblies based on pilgrimages are used to organize the links between urban centers and hinterlands. highland games an "arena". in effect. however. and s o on). 1979). Groups with different rhythms may also be in conflict. 1977). space and groups with different rhythms occupying the same space may never meet. although clearly spatial and temporal aspects interact and influence one another: People live in space-time. are. when. The who does what with whom is the organization of com- . 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. festivals. assert or define identity. and where-they are the w h e n and where. regards a particular time as quiet and for sleep. although while they are happening they need and use settings and other physical elements. lowland Scots of the southwest use the church. and so on.Cultural conflicts and problems may often be more severe at the temporal level than at the spatial. carnivals. where Rapoport. sacred and profane times. and other rites (see One example of this is provided by Scotland. while in the Borders area of lowland Scotland the town is the significant setting (Neville. weekday and rest day. seasonal. Thus people may be separated in time as well as. 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). including or excluding whom. Thus the meaning of these elements depends on the temporal use they receive-the periodic gatherings. The highland clan gatherings use ancestral castles. or instead of. periodic. that is.180 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT being accurate within one second a year. and another group (in this case Southern Italians) regard it as a time for noise and boisterous activity (Rapoport. in this case the Swiss. these also need settings. This applies to pilgrimages and other ritual movements. a week was the smallest relevant time unit (Ortiz. At the same time. 1981). 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. Note also that many behaviors (nonfixed-feature elements) that are used to establish boundaries. the number of events per unit time and the distribution of activities in time (day and night.

channel it. rules. forms. meaning is often expressed through signs. 1976b. by treatment of floor or ground surfaces or level changes. whether face to face or in other ways. how. ways of establishing group or social identity.Environment. organization of time. ways of defining situations and hence indicat- . maintenance. but it may be useful to restate the principal features of its organization. the materials that give it physical expression and othercharacteristics. control it. whereas communication. as already noted While space organization itself expresses meaning and has communicative properties. and the mechanisms used: separation in space. by planting. when. 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. 1977). as used here. colors. intensity. as I have used it above. facilitate it. is also related to it-one can study the various individuals and groups who are linked or separated. and Communication 181 rnunication among people. under what conditions. as a system of ~nteract~on withdrawal. by fixed-. Thus both spatial and other systems of cues may identify sett~ngs. Organization of meaning Space organization. sizes. refers to communication among people. which then become indicators of social position. rate. is a more fundamental property of the environment than is shape. and so on-that is. We have been discussing meaning for some time. Privacy. the sensory modalities involved. and avoidance and psychological withdrawal (Rapoport. semifixed-. where. both conceptually and in fact. and the like. and direction of interaction v a y as d o the settings appropriate to and it. materials. after reiterating that meaning is communication from the environment to people. and the like-as we have already seen-and by people themselves Thus spatial meanings can be Indicated by walls or other sharp breaks. furnishings. Who communicates with whom. by various objects or furnishings-of buildings or urban spaces. the nature. Meaning. doors. manners. and nonfixed-feature elements (see Figure 28). landscaping. or by gradients or transitions They can be indicated by sanctity (the presence of religious symbols). by the presence of particular people. 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. inhibit it Both environments and commun~cationare culturally variable. physical devices such as walls.

and so on). although. . dominance.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. avoidance. as I have tried to show. this decoding is not usually too difficult. The purpose of structuring space and time is to organize and structure communication (interaction.

and complex ways. we have seen that in the even smaller M'Buti camp. The organization of communication also influences the organization of the other three variables-in fact. Even in such cases. they are cer. In this latter connection. such as changed entrance directions. it communicates how. However. and other variables. status. and the building of spite fences (Turnbull. It does this in a way we have not yet discussed-the meaning inherent in settings populated by particular groups and of communicating lifestyle. used to indicate shiftare ing communication and interaction patterns. . as we have seen. the community was small enough for these differences to be known to all. influencing communication. The argument has been that meaning often communicates the context (who should interact with whom. 1961). also provides information about status. an aboriginal camp. through that mechanism. lifestyle. as aspects of the environment is our principal theme.Environment. under what conditions). houses turned around. which was further reinforced by the former being larger. and the like has the purpose of locating people one does not know in social space and. and so on (Glass. interesting. all four interact in many. the distance from the mill and topographic elevation communicated perceived distance in status between overseers' houses and workers' houses. People know which relationships have changed.yet. when. For example. such as in a village. and Communication 183 and this is done partly through organizing meaning. These are an important part of both the context and the situation that influences communication. For example: (a) Environmental meanings are less important in small places where everyone is known. ethnicity. but these mnemonics help everyone and certainly help new arrivals or people returning to the camp after an absence to understand the current situation. Similarly. 1978: 147). having porches. physical cues. A number of conditions immediately comes to mind. The relationship between meaning and communication The relationship of the last two. in the mill villages in North Carolina. that is. meaning and communication. a small community. Meaning. Meaning. 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. however. such environmental meaning may be useful. or the like.

1979b). however. known. and even more difficult to "fake" location-the neighborhood or area o the city in which one lives. economic. "old school ties. Some ways of communicatingstatus and hierarchy are still needed. It is difficult to obtain a house of a certain type without a set of particular educational. and widely accepted social hierarchies. 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. are partly supported by anecdotal and personal evidence that in the United States one is often asked upon meeting people. 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. "What do you do?" (which defines education." and the like. clothing.184 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT tainly less important than in larger-scale. Given these conditions. Anecdotally. Under those conditions. or guesses. 1979a. occupational status. one would expect that environmental indicators would become more important than elsewhere. It thus follows that: (c) Environmental cues are less important when other cues and indicators are present and work well-accent. (b) Environmental cues are less important where there are rigid. the society is large and complex. This may be an environmental f equivalent of the differential difficulty of hiding emotions through nonverbal expression in the nonfixed-feature realm. 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. 1978). Under those conditions communication is highly predictable and cues from settings are less important. and possible income) and "Where do you live?" which helps define the rest. These hypotheses.The significance of scale in this connection is beginning to receive recognition in social science (see Berreman. This receives passing support in . This seems clear on intuitive grounds and has already been discussed above (see also Rapoport. occupational. and social characteristics. clothing is mass produced and its use is rather complex and nonsystematic.although it has not been much studied regarding environments. lifestyle. more complex environments. cars are available on credit or can be leased-many people have expense accounts.

the known status of a named area (which may be associational rather than perceptual. decorations. litter. that is. 1976). Peach. 1971b. water-edge location (if nonindustrial). Lofland argues that in traditiorlal societies there was a wide range of cues. views (if not of industry). kinds of houses. although not exclusively. 1975). There are also some cross-cultural regularities regarding environmental quality of residential areas-altitude. tatoos and having to do with cloth~ng. Lofland's hypothesis was tested. by a student of mine (Plwoni. Recall. although briefly. dining. and the particular regularities in given cultures understood. 1 9 7 7 31-32) At the perceptual level. shoes. the presence of people in particular shopping.Environment. both traditional and prescribed by law (recall our discussion of sumptuary laws earlier). 1971a. Under those conditions. receives strong support from a study by Lofland (1973) Whereas my argument has dealt mainly. that is. and many other variables. 1971. location in physical space becomes an indicator of location in social space At smaller scales. location in center or periphery. Hence the proliferation of group-speciflc settings that traditionally were public. hairstyles." T h ~argument. see Rapoport. 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. with residential locations. Once the cue becomes known. there is only one mechanism available--public settings become less public and more group specific These settings provide the contexts. also. recreational. The argument implicit in all this is that ~f people can be located in social space. based on apriori grounds derived from the evidence s reviewed. He compared illustrations and descriptions the mainly of medieval public spaces and ~dentified rather wide range . body scars. by seeing people frequent these settings. people whom o n e cannot s o locate. and hence in a likely context and situation. Johnston. we have seen repeatedly the role of lawns. that these settings In turn communicate their character via environmental cues. we can locate them in social space. and other settings also locates them in social space. if they can be categorized. In other words. and so on that have disappeared. Lofland's deals mainly with public places The question is how o n e can locate people encountered in public places in social space. maintenance. Meaning. this becomes easier. given that one does not interact with strangers. and Communication 185 some of the literature dealing with social areas In cities (see Timms.

we find settings with sets of cues that identify appropriate behaviors in terms of the distinction between men and women (see Levin. 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. 1977). the cues that indicate the "belongingness" of either men or women may be v e y subtle-or even nonexistent. discouraged. 1969c: 44. In Africa generally. so that they act almost automatically. and involved. Location. India (Singh and Chandhoke.in Afghanistan. for example. each with their appropriate behaviors learned through enculturation generally and taught through initiation specifically. Although the cues may be more subtle. Among Turkish nomads. men's houses are found all over New Guinea (Rapoport. or prevented are culture specific and can only occur if the cultural code is known. Note that in all these cases. In many of these cases.and elsewhere. . to some extent. Yet the distinction may be drawn too acutely and made too contrasting. the complex of relevant behaviors and the social interactions and communications encouraged. size. In fact. One example is the men's sacred building in the Sepik River area of New Guinea known as the Haus Tambaran. thus helping structure communication even though sex identity is easy to distinguish without the tent or house.(or nonfixed) feature realms. At the same time. He then examined a set of contemporay U.S. In this respect.186 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT of people who were present. 1970). predicts the kind of behaviors to be expected and appropriate. they tend to be primarily-although not exclusively-in the semifixed. height. or not present physically. men's and women's tents can be found (see Cuisenier. 1981). 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. and decoration do not indicate. they a r e v e y similarto the traditional examples given above. while the difference is noticeable even to the outsider. 1971. and are usually clearly distinguished from other buildings.1967). 1966. 1977). accepted. shape. decoration.Africa (Fernandez. where height. public places. also.That these are not confined only to preliterate culture can be seen from a number of examples from Anglo-American culture. 197910). social status but sexual and ritual differences.Fernandez. and other strikingly noticeable differences clearly distinguish it from the surrounding dwellings (Rapoport.

Environment. but consistency of use. or whatever) is used to predict fully and successfully the services. how one needs to be dressed. which were much more important parts of their housesettlement system (see Rapoport. more "feminine. and so on. 1980a." which were seen as being at odds with the "crude" nature of men. drank in "lounges. For men there were other settings-such as taverns and pubs. This is possibly the most important characteristic that makes chain operations successful. If one is hungry. their behavior. with no seating. Hilton. stressing sports. Bars fronted the street. havingchalrs and tables. and s o on (McDonald's. in turn. which. 1968. One easily and quickly adjusted one's behavior accordingly. cavernous. Meaning." or at least genteel. Lounges tended to be in the interior. They have been generally described as looking like large public urinals. alone or accompanied by men. behaviors. decorations-all producing a softer. the tradition in certain places of displaying menus outside and allowing views into the establishment are devices used to communicate these desired meanings. however. Young and Wilmott. building shape. 1977. In Australia. as well as street settings. the success of chain operations is frequently a function of their great predictability. which were further reinfoiced by the nonfixed elements. tiled. where men feel ill at ease (Suttles. prices. carpeted. Thus what was known was reinforced by physical cues-by mnemonics. in hotels the public bar was for men only. Each time a particular sign. furniture covers. and Communication 187 Thus we find in certain areas of Chicago and East London that the dwelling is very much the woman's domain. the mixed crowd with v e y different dress codes and very different behavior and noise levels in the other. and 1982). and clothing in the one case. Heritage Bank. Knowing these things is important. is more interesting theoretically. and how much it will cost before o n e wants to know where to enter. The effectiveness of these-as of many other systems of cuesdepends not only on adequate redundancy (so that cues are noticed). noise levels. and women. but was also indicated by the general decor. type of food. Their understanding depends on predictability. " This was known. This was mainly known. As already suggested. The former method. traditionally. and many delicate "what-nots. but was also indicated by the presence of cues such as lace curtains and doilies. image. one wants to be able easily to identify a place to eat. 1962). know the price range. noisy. roof shape. were large. undecorated except by beer and liquor advertisements. the cues reinforce . Pizza Hut. the purely masculine crowd. products. depends not only on enculturation. Kentucky Fried Chicken.

in restricting the range of acceptable and appropriate behaviors (see also Kottak. women. . one of the things they are saying is that the expected behaviors are not clear. The men's section (which is also the guest room) is further indicated by other external cues. inventories of objects and their arrangements can be made. and animals are located. Thus semipublic spaces. and the elements and arrangements also indicate sitting versus eating areas.) and the nature of these three domains is communicated through physical cues. The above discussion relates to the interaction of meaning and communication. or whatever. and hidden rooms are based on this basic distinction (see Kamau. In fact. Different bedrooms (such as the master bedroom) are indicated by the quality of furniture. they repeat this order-the same space organization persists. Note that. frequently one finds the equations men = culture and women = nature in various societies. and also that the designers have neglected meaning-particularly users' meaning. and so on 1 0 longer look like churches. In many traditional societies. 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. Private spaces are mainly bedrooms and. 1979a).d. An example already discussed is provided in the case of urban housing in Uganda. and lavatories-are clearly shown by the equipment they contain. In the case of a Maya house-a very small space. parenthetically. in Israel.188 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT their predictability and hence their effectiveness. and so on-which also indicate social status. when the lay 1 public complains that churches. used for entertaining and men. It is of interest to note that when more permanent dwellings are first constructed. are indicated by furnishings. furnishings. the effectiveness of subtle cues depends on their consistency. face east ( = front). are indicated by decorations. Here the distinctions between semipublic. Some examples have already been given. In a sense. banks. Hidden spaces-kitchens. the typical tent always has the same divisions in the same order so that one knows where men. post offices. n. and its cleanliness. in terms of the argument earlier on. They become more successful in producing behavioral invariance-that is. again. post offices. showers. private. Consider another-among the Bedouin. its amount. with sand or other materials altering theRnatural"state of the ground. One that I have observed is a change in the "floor" surface.Note that in all these cases. Tents are also arranged in standardized ways and. 1979).

in some cases. and a "dirty" half. where guests are recetved. These kinds of cues generally may be very subtle yet control privacy gradients and hence communication very effect~vely. there is a whole set of cues-fence. and in this way controls communication (see Figure 29) In this case. In the case of an Anglo-American house. whlch. the "clean" half is also indicated by displays of the famlly's "best goods" (Dunn and Dunn. the system would not work in organizing cornmunicatlon. At alarger scale. 1972) and many other cues For example. with the front entrance b e ~ n g small porch. All of these depend on consistency of use and of location within the tent and encampment. and Communication 189 communication and interaction are greatly influenced by sex dlfferences. cornmunication is controlled (see. homogeneous populations. 1963). as well as a defined by the situation knowledge of the rules regarding behav~or and a willingness to follow these rules. the traditional Russian house is commonly divided into a "clean" half. where cooking and other similar work takes place. enable an under- . 1965. this ash heap becomes important Other cues used are the relative openness of the sections. there is also an invisible. front door. the furnishings." "intercepts" visitors. as in that of an Aboriginator Navaho camp. porch. that is. In villages or tent clusters. my interpretation of Harrington. the food accompanying hospitality). communication is controlled at various places. and consistent use of these devices (Rapoport. the people seen. and so on. Such systems of cues clearly guide and influence communication patterns. particularly in cases where there are clear and unambiguous rules. strangers. Meaning. 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. 1 9 6 9 ~ . Without all these conditions. and s o on-that indicates how far one penetrates depending on who one is. in Rapoport. once known. meanings can be comrnunicated through materials in very culture-specific ways. where only o n e men's section serves as a guest room. The division is indicated by location-the former being off the street. Anderson and Moore.Environment. 1977: 200). 1979a). the latter off the yard-reinforced by further stressed by a separate entrances. which indicates "guest room. but known. Other examples can be given. for example. The ash heap. including comparison of fence locations (Rapoport. clear hierarchies. boundary at whlch one needs to wait in order to be admitted to the camp or settlement in the first place. living room door.

190 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT I W O U Lhh(9 OUT ~~ pb ~ N L SJEC~~. in Wadi Firan in the Sinai). . tombs of sheikhs or saints are often used to establish ownership of land (as is found. Among Bedouin also. This role of tombs is. for example. In other cases. less durable materials are used. 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. This then indicates the relation of individuals to the group. For example. among the Bedouin.

physical environments generally become important (Rapoport. they are also occasions for meeting friends. and color (whitewash) as well as the presence of offerings. But the argument is that if there is no categorization. A particular form of heightened criticality is environmental stress. These meetings reaffirm these groups' membership in the tribe and their right to use its resources. and a particular response is what has been .. once the code is known. This also applies to the role of meaning in controlling interaction and communication. Some groups may even be excluded-that is. interaction is likely to become even less since one does not interact with strangers (Lofland. 1 9 7 7 . in effect. 1973). but the cues are frequently physical. I have argued elsewhere that under conditions of high criticality. 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. and s o on) that reinforce tribal identity and foster interaction and communication among dispersed and nomadic groups. What they do. Note that many of these cues communicate meanings in culturespecific ways in order to structure and control interaction and communication. By categorizing peope in this way. 1976: 25). relatives. there is no interaction. One then quickly discovers that such tombs. There is one other such condition not yet discussed. forthcoming). form. Meaning. cooking utensils.Environment.As such it clearly structures communication. 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. among the Bedouin groups in the southern Sinai. 1 9 7 9 c . 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. and s o on Also. they categorize people. and Communication 191 once again. culturally specific and neither intuitively clear nor "legible" unless one knows the code. however. Their importance is. occupational debris. act as meeting places (shown by having cooking and dining facilities adjacent. stressed through location. I have previously discussed conditions under which physical cues from the environment may become more or less important. 1973). 1980c. if the particular form of categorization is stigmatization. interaction and communication are clearly limited in some waysome forms of interaction and communication become inappropriate. In so doing. Note also that the rules are social. the meanings can be understood easily.

clearly influence the extent and forms of communication at the highest level of generality of group members versus non-group members. Mexico. a spatial expression of an important set of cognitive domains. Maori would tend increasingly to concentrate in specific urban neighborhoods. which are used for periodic ritual movement. These crosses and the sacred paths linking them.""of being a Maori. Among the Maori in New Zealand. leading to the development of specific institutions and other forms. a number of elements are also used to define the ethnic identity of the group: the settlement pattern. The key elements. 1977). in this way. among them rituals. churches. us versus them. While these and many other semifixedand nonfixed-feature elements will all help to express and maintain ethnic identity. see Rapoport. core element. and meetings among various groups. Consider two examples among the many available (for others. Increasingly." s o that "to be a Maori means to have a home Marae" (Austin. and more details. that is. Maori are calling for the provision of Marae. the Marae seems to be the single most important. and elements of the culture. It is a spatial-symbolic realm.One of the characteristics of this particular response is the greaterreliance on particular environmental cues that indicate identity and thus help channel communication processes. 1976). In effect. the importance of which has been little noticed by whites precisely because it is a space rather than a building or object. however. are the strongest indicators and definers of ethnic identity among that group (Crumrine. if no impediments are placed in their way by government policy. It also provides the appropriate setting for a range of critically important behaviors. they locate people in social space and. and others. in urban areas where they can become indicators of Maori identity and focal points. categories. It should be stressed that it plays a role in structuring interaction and communication in two domains-among Maori and between Maori and nowMaori. and dining halls. a "remnant microcosm of traditional culture" (Austin. The Marae are seen as "symbols of Maoritanga (Maoriness). 1964. ritual meals. meeting houses.192 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT called defensive structuring (Siegel. 1981). Among the Mayo Indians of Sonora. are the house crosses that identify Mayo dwellings (as well as other crosses that mark boundaries and important sites or settings). It . 1970). One could even predict that in time. cemeteries. with their accompanying gateways. the Marae. many traditional cultural elements have become condensed or concentrated in a space. 1976: 238-239).

and compare the reasons given to the argument of this monograph. It will be noted that after discussing the role of public spaces (which are stressed by Lofland. 1974). This is because it seems that in cities. the most important way of locating people in social space is through where they live: their neighborhood. associational and perceptual characteristics of the area. address. What I wish to d o is to accept the finding. At this point. In this study. in terms of pnvacy defined as the control of unwanted interaction (see Rapoport. which can be described (in somewhat modified form) as follows: ( I ) the physlcal structure or layout of the residential type (2) the symbolic (better. that is. 1973). street. Five sets of reasons are given for the higher levels of interaction and communication in detached dwellings. O n e can further argue that (a) even the first point leads to higher probabilities of chance encounters. that this is a primary function of culture generally Through this distinction. I d o not wish to discuss the validity of r this finding or the support it might receive from other studies. house. and (b) several of the others depend o n the particular form of housing and its spatial organization. communication) was compared in detached houses and apartment buildings (Reed. the second within groups.The finding was that. with the exception of point 1.Environment. and Communication 193 has been argued. and other elements all communicate and locate people in social space. counterintuitively. interaction (that is. Meaning. garden.all of them relate to my argument. interaction was h ~ g h e in houses. The other points all represent more lndirect effects and can be understood in terms of the distinction between wanted and unwanted interaction. One can argue that.I returned to examples of residential settings (although as part of the house-settlement system). that is. I will thus conclude this argument with an example from Canada discussed in some detail. . in fact. culture both prevents (or limits) and encourages communication -the former among groups. 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. we are dealing with a direct effect of the space organization on organization of communication.

unwanted information may be communicated that might be embarrassing.194 THE MEANING O F THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1976b. . 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. but this is where the next point comes in. lifestyles. (3) It is found that apartments tend to house more heterogeneous populations than d o groups of houses. Thus it is the control over the cues that seems significant: One might almost say that while houses allow "front" meanings. that is. houses also allow personalization. deliveries. and hence the location of people in social space again becomes more difficult-a problem compounded by the greater heterogeneity. colors. In apartments. planting. the manipulation of a large number of cues in the semifixed realm that communicate specific information about people-their preferences. time spent on recreation-and the forms of recreation. In addition. this information is lacking. Let us examine the remaining four reasons in somewhat more detail. due t o the form of the space organization (point 1)and particularly the lack of common open space. personalization. and other associational and perceptual cues already discussed allow some general inferences to be made. which are identical and have little or no possibility of personalization. apartments reveal "back" meanings. are not random. it is more difficult to observe the comings and goings of people to specific dwellings-of visitors. and so on-partitularly if they add up to a recognizable character. These two also interact-one way of judging the homogeneity of a population is precisely through semifixed-feature elements-maintainance. or diversity o f lifestyles. lawns. (4) In apartments. that is. This further inhibits interaction. There is thus difficulty in judging lifestyles. 1977). then it follows that one needs information about people. however. Location and the nature of the residential structure. and so on. time spent on maintenance and gardening. one needs to locate them in social space. This could be overcome partially if the population were highly homogeneous. This makes people in them not only less identifiable by physicalcues. but also less predictable socially. As a result. the quality of streets. (2) If. in order to interact with people. Since the communication of meaning through environmental and other cues is an aspect of the management of the flow of information. status.

then. four of these five points (and many are related to the first) are due to meanings being communicated. and Communication 195 we are generally discussing front rather than back behavior. (5) The high rate of mobility in apartments means not only greater uncertainty about who people are. mainly by semifixed and nonfixed elements. and thus greater unpredictability.Environment. communication-which is. 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. that is. the definition of slums) is frequently related to frontlback reversals. of course. Generally. which then influence interaction. Many of the examples of the negative identity (stigma) attributed to people via environmental cues (for example. s o that meanings culturally defined as inappropriate by the receiving group are present. . where we came in.


the mnemonic f functions of which activate subroutines for culturally appropriate. includ~ng location of the people In social space a n d hence communlc a t ~ o n hence the importance of the built . is that suddenly a considerable number of things fit into place. partly from the cultural rules associated with settings. derlved partly from consistent use. the many others given. this framework begins to predict things that existing empirical studies confirm. o n e of the objectives described in the preface. would prove even more useful. In fact. Clearly. environment and ~ t early appearance in s the development o the human species f 197 . but were not. in fact. linking many apparently diverse and unrelated concepts. Associationat the decodlng of the meaning of elements. A large framework begins to emerge. theories. and findings. that is.CONCLUSION What seems significant about this last example. the context and the situation def~nitiono the setting. which was. and to study this whole approach. 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. their associations with use and behavior. and still others that could have been used. disciplines. more or less routin]zed behavior. studies specifically set up to test predictions.

to enable conceptual structures to develop. and so on that accommodate them. in my view. It approaches such behavior in the first instance through observation. It is also relatively easy to transfer the approach from purely nonfixedfeature elements to semifixed. As a result. when. once a group and its profile in terms of lifestyle and environmental quality preferences have been established. traditional and modern examples. revealing unsuspected connections. domains. archaeological. there is sufficient theory. and including or excluding whom). both in nonverbal communication and man-environment studies. 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. Thus one can build frameworks and conceptual models that seem valid cross-culturally and historically and thus help relate primitive.198 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Clearly. is twofold. it is specific. and then analysis. This approach. which is basically humanistic. At the same time. 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. being based on the work of many others. This has to do with the fact that it fits into the way of thinking described in the preface. and ethnographic material. and so on-is. and simplified considerably. and high-style environments.This has to do with the relative simplicity of using the nonverbal communication model. vernacular. For example. Its utility. One thus uses many small pieces of information from diverse sources to show how they interrelate. the utility of this approach isgeneral. Yet I hope the utility of the approach has been demonstrated. the very criticism occasionally leveled against nonverbal communication research-that it lacks theory. It is thus relatively simple and straightforward t o use. Its method is interpretive. the goal has been to set out this approach and framework as clearly and succinctly as possible. Through observation and analysis of these settings and the behaviors occurring in them (who does what. has to do with all products of human culture. Second. . an advantage. one can frequently define the group's activity systems and the systems of settings. where. recording. the be relevant cues can q ~ c k l y discovered and understood. They can then be provided or it can be made easy for the group to provide these for themselves. in some ways. or how different fields and disciplines interrelate. is overly simple. I have left out much.and fixed-feature elements. First. In fact.


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NJ Prentice-Hall (1977) Space and Place The Perspect~ve Experience Minneapolis Un~versity of of M~nnesota Press . R M and R P Warren (1970) "Aud~tory l l ~ ~ s ~ and confusions " Sclentiflc l ons Amerlcan 2 2 3 (December) 3 0 ." p p 3 5 7 .References 21 7 Tuan. V (1968) Drums of Affllctlon A Study of Rellglous Process Among the Ndembu of Z a m b ~ aLondon Oxford Universlty Press Tyler. C M (1961) The Forest People London Reprint Soclety Turner. CA Sage Wallis. Washrngton. Y F (1974) Topophllia Englewood Cliffs. S [ e d ] (1979) Nonverbal C o m m u n ~ c a t ~ oReadlngs wlth Commentary New n York Oxford Universlty Press Wellman. et al (1972) Learnlng from Las Vegas Cambrtdge MIT Press R (1976) "A house 1s more than a home" Progressive Archrtecture (August) 6 2 67 Vogt. E (1972)"The concept of the Egyptlan palace a s d 'ruling machine. Settlement and Urbanism London Duckworth Ventur~.(1978)"Sign and metaphor " Annals. MA Addlson-Wesley Weisner. Warr. Assoclatlon of Amencan Geographers 6 8 (September) 363-372 Turnbull. R~nehart& Wlnston Uphill. J (1967) "Barriers and channels for houslng development In modernlzlng countries " AIP Journal 33 (May) Turner. E Z (1970) "Lev]-Strauss among the Maya " Man 5 (September) 379-392 ---(1976) Tortillas for the Gods A Symbollc Analysis of Zlnacanteco Rltuals Cambridge.4 5 1 In G Llndzey (ed ) Handbook of Soclal Psychology Readlng. P B and C Knapper (1968) The Perception of People and Events London John Wlley Warren. W (1978) "On the structure of non-verbal behav~or" ManEnvironment Systems 8 (March) 60-66 0 von S~mson.3 6 Measures Nonreactive Research In the Soclal Webb. MA Harvard University Press von Raffler-Engel. S (1978) "The boundaries of race process of ethmcity In England " Man 1 3 (June) 200-217 --A M u . UCLA. and D Rauch (1976) S ~ g n of Llfe Symbols In the Amerlcan Clty PubllcaR s tlon accompanylng exh~b~tlon the same name at the Renwlck Gallery of the of Natlonal Collection of Flne Arts. D C .3 0 [ e d ] (1979) Images of Information St111 Photography In the Social Sciences Beverly Hills. December 12-14 Weltz. T (1974) "Perlodlc mlglat~onand chlld behavlor " Presented at the Con of ference on Psychosoclal Consequences of Sedentar~zat~on Nomads. M (1973) “Semantic and symbolic elements in architecture lconology as a flrst step towards an architectural s e m ~ o t ~ c " Semlot~ca 3 220-238 8. (1953)The Gothlc Cathedral New York Pantheon Wagner. J (1975) "The sex of time-keeplng" lnternatlonal Journal of Symbology 6 (November) 2 3 . K E (1968) "Systematlc observattonal methods. Smlthsontan Instltutlon. E J et al (1966) Unobtrus~ve Sclences C h ~ c a g oRand McNally Welck.' " p p 7217 3 4 In P Ucko et al ( e d s ) Man. S A [ e d ] (1969) Cognitive Anthropology? New York Holt. February-September Ventur~.

London: Tiranti." pp.) Man. (1968) "The socialmeaningof the physical environment.2 6 3 in J . [ed ] (19 7 2 ) The Image in Form: Selected Writings of Adrian Stokes. Wollheim. Young. J .) Cities in ChangeStudies o n the Urban Condition Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Woodburn. J .M. Settlement and Urbanism. M and P. R." pp. G . 2 5 2 . dissertation." Ph. Goodenough ( e d ) Explorations in Cultural Anthropology. New York Penguin. (19711 The Pivot of the Four Quarters. (eds. Kohn ( 1 9 7 3 ) "The environment as experienced by themigrant: an adaptation-level view. Whiting.5 4 4 in W. I+.. J . Wohlwill." pp. Williams. J. Berkeley. Wittkower. University of California. 193-206 in P. ( 1 9 7 2 ) "Ecology. Wheatley. (1973) "Symbolic meaning of space and the physical dimension of social relations.S. F. E. Carns (eds. London: Duckworth. W. New York: McGraw-Hill Wilhelm. J.. K. J . P. C. (1975) " D o o y a r d gardens and gardening in the Black community of Brushy. and I. Texas " Geographical Review 65 (January): 73-92. E. 51 1 . Chicago: Aldine. (1962) Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism. R. Wilmott ( 1 9 6 2 ) Family and Kinship in East London. Walton and D. L. ." Journal o f Social Psychology 8 2 (October): 3-14.D.218 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Werthman. Ucko et al. and W. nomadic movement a n d the composition of the local group among hunters and gatherers: a n East African example and its implications. Europe and Asia." Reprints of Research in Social Psychology 4 (January): 135164. New York: Pengu~n Zeisel. Morland. Underwood (1970) "Connotations of color names in the U. ( 1 9 6 4 )"Effectsof climate o n certain cultural practices.

EPILOGUE This book was originally published at the end of 1982. Space limitations meant that I had to be selective. and in my thinking since that time. I refer to some more recent work on meaning that seems generally to support. which qualifies and partly modifies some of the argument in Chapter 2. published in a chapter in 1988. 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. Second. First. expand. in other relevant fields. and even strengthen the overall argument of the book. Third. I elaborate. In it I refer only briefly . This epilogue is therefore limited to three principal themes. proposed in other fields. These concern possible general mechanisms. This offered not only practical but also conceptual advantages: If it proved possible to add an epilogue without rewriting the book. I summarize and further develop an argument. albeit in a very preliminary and brief form. complement. that would suggest that the basic argument has stood up. In connection with its reissue it seemed sensible briefly to review the developments in the literature. This also serves to update the bibliography with a list of new references. though it was completed in 1980. and it has in fact proved possible to d o so. two suggestions that I made almost offhandedly in the original book and that I did not pursue at the time. found at the end of the Epilogue. which make more plausible the suggested processes whereby cues in settings guide behavior and whereby global affective responses to environments are primary. 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.

symbolic. and that semiotics largely deals only with syntactics. Of course. Bonta. 1983. channel. Almost everyone uses it-or claims to-pays lip service to it.g.. First. and that this not only does not weaken the argument or findings but in fact strengthens them. semantics. and it has become almost synonymous with the study of meaning in the built environment. Context is critical.' still seem valid as written. Nasar. receiver. these can be "claimed" by the nonverbal communication (NVC) approach. and as I argue throughout this book. and nonverbal communication. the use of semantic differentials. 1979) and suggest that in them references to semiotics can be eliminated. however identified. may communicate several distinct types of meaning. led me to a rather significant revision (Rapoport. 1975. both NVC and symbolic approaches address structure. that symbolic approaches essentially deal with semantics. Krampen. and Buchan. 1988. 1988).g. and pragmatics. The first proposes that the term "meaning" is too global. 38) between syntactics. 1985). 35-36). the second change reconsiders the evaluation of symbolic approaches presented on pages 43-48 of this book. the Hymes (1964) model of communication (p. This also applies. the meaning of elements depends on contexts (both cultural and of other elements) and contrasts and noticeable differences among elements. for example. personal constructs. The description and criticism of semiotics. one needs t o distinguish among types or levels of meaning. 1989). Given that. Lindsey. Moreover. and the like). I identify and discuss the three approaches mentioned above: semiotic/linguistic. which was originally presented at a semiotics confer- . and material culture generally. Following the brief mention of method-driven approaches. which have no strong conceptual or theoretical bases (pp. Further consideration of the latter two.. semiotics is even more dominant. Two things are involved.220 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT to method-driven studies of meaning (e.g. even though they never use or even refer to it (e. share: sender. 1979. 5 2 above) can be reduced to a minimal set that all sound approaches to meaning. and puts even nonsemiotic work in a semiotic framework or "decorates" the work with references to semiotics. Because they are eclectic and fairly straightforward in approach. 1982. Using the distinction (p. In the text I refer to examples (e. stimulated by some questions raised by a student. to one study among others that 1 discuss below (Duncan.. Hucek. Lee. one can argue that the "eclectic" approach and NVC essentially address pragmatics (and possibly some semantics). and the linguistic approach from which it derives. It follows that built environments. and context.

They are: (1) "High-level" meanings related to. accessibility. Second. status. wealth. and this still seems to be the case (although work is certainly being done and published). however. which need to be clearly distinguished. and the sacred. Fig. 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. privacy.ence and which contains quite unnecessary references to semiotics (see also Lang. This is because.13. the domain of this book. 1986). and it may be most relevant regarding those other types of meaning in certain environments. and so on-that is. in fact. Symbolism. it seems to be an exemplar of what Lakatos (1971: 100)calls a "degenerating research program. philosophical systems. (2) "Middle-level" meanings. (3) "Low-level" everyday and instrumental meanings: mnemonic cues for identifying uses for which settings are intended and hence the social situations. In my copy I have. penetration gradients. it seems essentially unusable and is almost impossible to understand. "2 In retrospect.movement and way-finding. At best this approach is stagnating. I argued (on p. Such meanings are most usefully studied using NVC approaches (particularly because the more general problems with the study of symbols also seem valid). however. expected behavior. behavior. s o that "meaning" is too global a term regarding built environments and material culture generally. 3). In fact. see Rapoport. 1982). and other information which enables users to behave and act appropriately and predictably. those communicating identity. the latent rather than the instrumental aspects of activities. power. although they are ideal types structuring a continuum (for analogous cases. 2. although it is indeed not useful for understanding users' meanings in everyday environments. These seem to communicate meaning at three distinct levels. 37) that there had been no advance between 1969 and 1980. not so much to an approach as to a distinct type or level of meaning. 43-48) may need to be qualified in one sense. in fact. in press b: Figs. making co-action p~ssible. and settings. 1977: 37. third. crossed out every mention of semiotics and refer to and use the paper frequently. cosmologies. for example. the criticism of the symbolic approach (pp. it seems that one is typically dealing with several distinct levels of meaning. 1. then.~ . and the like. seating arrangements. cultural schemata. and Rapoport. as argued in the book. The term "symbolic" refers. may represent a different type of meaning that some built environments may communicate. worldviews.

and the general approach advocated in this book may still be quite relevant. symbolic meanings may be present. I use a number of examples of religious buildings. while the other two levels tend to be much more variable. etc. readers are referred to the chapter in question. which also provides relevant references (Rapoport. or-even just one of these meanings. (To make the point. Two conclusions should. low-level meanings must be present if the environment is to work for users. need to understand low-level meanings in order to behave appropriately and to co-act. and symbolic object (p. refer to high-level meanings. two. and how important they may be. 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. although as I will argue later.). 19-20).222 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT This book is concerned primarily with (2)and ( 3 ) . 1988). The first is that typically in any given case only a few people know the high-level meanings even in traditional contexts. as this . what they are and how they are communicated. In some cases-many small-scale.) It follows that no matter what high-level. Nonverbal models are most useful for the study of these meanings. whereas I propose three levels of meaning. the first in 1962. and ideo-technic (ideology. 1977. and many and varied examples can be given of how the same buildings or other settings may communicate all. of three levels of function: technomic (instrumental or technical use). The second point concerns the relationships among levels of meanings. he restricts "meaning" to the ideo-technic. All. symbolism. There is also a suggestive and interesting link to Binford's discussion in a number of publications. and the majority "not in the know". However. however. although unfortunately it does not explicitly distinguish between them. pp. in which high-level meanings can be expected to be at their maximum. It follows that low-level meanings are always present-they are the one constant. and no matter how important (or unimportant) middle-level meaning may be. The reverse is not the case: high-level meanings d o not need to be known for settings to work. however. all need to know how to behave or act. visitors. these still need to be relatively straightforward. preliterate groups.4 This point can be elaborated. be discussed. 15above and Rapoport. What I call symbolic approaches may. socio-technic (use in a social rather than a technical sense). they may need other approaches. value object. however. and how useful this distinction among levels is likely to be. for example-middle-level meanings may be relatively unimportant. esp.

1977). cf. and social hierarchies are more fluid. and anthropologists-high-level meanings can b e expected to b e important or significant. one might hypothesize more generally that as other symbolic systems become more widely available-writing. In any given case it may even be possible. 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. all three levels of meaning need to be considered. e. including semifixed and nonfixed elements) one needs to assume that all three levels may be present. 183-193 above). complexity. Low..g. 149-152 above. Rapoport. as already suggested. identity. low-level. For example. although the cues may be very subtle (see. studied.and middle-level meanings also gain relative prominence if highlevel meanings become less important. archaeologists. as are the likely courses of change (i. the significant point is that it becomes relatively easy to begin to think of which meanings are likely to be important in which cases. everyday instrumental meanings are always present in any built environment. even if hypotheses are made.e. and heterogeneity of the system. or what has been called World Three (Popper. middle-level meanings often tend to increase in importance in present-day environments due to the scale. pp. which are present and how important these are become empirical questions. In most traditional environments-those studied by historians. and the like through environmental cues may become more important. communicating status. only low-level and high-level meanings may b e present. 1972)-high-level meanings in the built environment may become less important. 1977). This question of the possibly greatly reduced importance of highlevel syrnbolic meanings in present-day environments is briefly discussed below. they are complementary rather than conflicting or competing. only low-level meanings may be present.. In starting out to study an example of that component of material culture that is the built environment. i. one must not prejudge which of the three levels of meaning will be present. In most . crossculturally and historically. More generally. Also.Epilogue 223 book suggests. In others. for example (Goody.e. Since people are not known. Also to reiterate. In studying any built environment (in the broad sense used in this book. prediction).. in order clearly to understand the relation between built environments and human behavior over the full range of environments. to "predict" their relative importance. and understood.

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. worldviews. such as identity. however. 1978: 36. Also. although there is an immediate problem with such a "flexible" definition and use of a concept. It seems clear from his analysis that the change is essentially . in any case.Their presence or absence and their relative importance could be profiled. I hypothesize that in the contemporary United States. the examples he gives are in fact exemplars of middle-level meanings. Rapoport. It may thus be preferable to keep my original definition of high-level meanings. the types of high-level meanings I described earlier-cosmologies. although its constituent elements certainly need to be broadened. under that hypothesis one could argue that status. in press d). ideal landscapes-those of the 19th and 20th centuries. Jackson (1984) compares two U. the sacred. cultural schemata.224 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT present-day environments. high-level meanings are likely to be absent. and the nature of social units and their values (Doxtater. power. and the like.S. One would alsmxpect cross-cultural variability. to use it. I would suggest. 1981: 38). In fact. For example. in press b). individual or group identity (see Rapoport.In my view. This is an intriguing suggestion that. comfort. one might pursue. wealth. in time. This is how I interpret two recent studies. mastery over nature (or partnership with it). are replaced by the importance of the individual. If a concept can acquire ever new and different content. and so on. middle-level meanings tend to be extremely important and prominent. and the like are some of the new high-level meanings rather than what I call middle-level meanings." although expressed with very high levels of redundancy. 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. status. philosophical systems. Moreover. and low-level meanings are "normal. For example. it becomes difficult. A contrary view has been put forward. equality. arguing that cosmological structures are still present in contemporary environments (Doxtater 1981). or at least relatively unimportant. health. if not impossible. for example-as I 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. high-level meanings are generally absent. it is their content that changes. Thus the three levels of meaning can vary independently of one another (or partly SO).

roads. for example. Though the study clearly shows that meaning is. I believe. indeed. and so forth) or political (for public space or country courthouses). whether sacred (for parks. 1984: 20). 1985a. as well as an actual increase in. 1988). these seem to be low-level meanings. not least in generating hypotheses to b e tested.Epilogue 225 one of progressive loss of symbolic content. nonverbal communication.S city council chambers. 1985b). of which the "highest" is an "agreeable environmental experience" (Jackson. involving many other types of settings in the U. cultural landscape. Since. 1988). which are clearly absent5 It would clearly be worthwhile to test these two alternative hypotheses. I have not yet discussed the third approach. and Hindu Indians (Chua. It is also the major change in this book. such as cues about how to behave. Whichever is correct. important and useful. 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. generally or in any given case. as I suggested. as a new set of high-level meanings-democracy and egalitarianism. Over time there has been a clear loss of symbolic. Malays. it will be discussed in the next section. middle-level meanings (see Rapoport. meaning is not something additional to "function" but is pos- . crossings. this approach is not modified in any way but rather supported and confirmed by more recent work. can also be interpreted as a reduction in high-level meanings and concomitant greater emphasis on. a most important function of housing. This can admittedly be interpreted in terms of the alternative hypothesis. with which this book is concerned. high-level meanings in favor of low-level meanings (Goodsell. This symbolic content is replaced by what I would call low-level meanings. however. A similar interpretation also seems to apply to a more detailed study of political meaning involving an analysis of 75 U. rather than high-level philosophical or cosmological meanings. however. 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. The whole analysis. It is. as in suburbia and in office environments.S. the idea of levels of meanings remains. low-level meanings and. It seems clearer than ever that.

g. incomprehensible. eclectic studies. I use whatever works and makes sense. like all environment-behavior relations. 1981. Marcus. Lewis-Williams. 1980. the fact that meaning must be studied within its appropriate cultural context and that. 1987. 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. while they d o not explicitly fit the latter. All the material reviewed in this section needs to be seen in this light. it is culture specific. is eclectic. Carrasco. and Buchan.g. In that sense my approach in this book. 1983. Such studies (e. In both the positive and negative senses. and earlier work which I only discovered since the completion of this book. Isbell. Nasar. symbolic. see Rapoport. Nor is it surprising that most of it does not seem to be applied to contemporary everyday settings6 but to traditional societies. Cherulnik and Wilderman. 1976. 1987. or unusable. Although meaning. Broda. and nonverbal approaches to the study of meaning and also includes method-driven. Vinnicombe. within general patterns. it is only usefully studied or considered if it can be adequately generalized to groups. Carrasco.g. This is not surprising. 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. it generally does not deal with work in semiotics. and Matos. as in my work generally. The review is neither exhaustive nor systematic. some of which use NVC approaches and some. Pieper. Lindsey.226 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT sibly the most important function. and Matos. Lang. This certainly applies to work on symbolism. 1987. 1988). includes subjective experience. 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. in press a ) or those still in existence. 1982. 1978) can all be incorporated into the corpus . They can therefore be incorporated into my approach even when they formally claim allegiance to other approaches. This is also the case in this section (e. the label means less than the content. Despres. 1987a. from which this limited review draws follows semiotic. given the discussion in the first section of this epilogue. even semiotics.. Duncan. Broda..Hockings. for one thing. I briefly consider some studies of symbolism. One point that is only implicit in the text needs to be made explicit. 1986. study meaning in terms of pragmatics and in straightforward ways. The new work. Another of my main points that receives support is the centrality of culture. 1984. 1976. either in the past (e.studies in archaeology. this has been discussed above.. 1985. I only draw the line at work I find wrong.

in the South Pacific (Rodman. Korea (the locale of the study). This becomes clear from a special issue on home interiors in Europe in Environment and Behavior (1987). whatever the theoretical rationale. 1977). and it is even possible. or a structuralist analysis of Maori art (Hanson. 1985b). In a study of the Great Temple of Tenochtitl6n (Broda...g. Brower. prototype. 1985a. and Ingham. with "symbolic aesthetics" (Lang. 1984). Similarly.anka. village. Carrasco. Such continuity also emerges from a similar analysis of the Maya (Marcus. 1985)." "indicators. This is the case." "expressions of" and the like-and then understood in an NVC framework. also as already mentioned both in the book and the epilogue. and tomb. the term "symbol" can often easily be replaced by other terms.g. The same neo-Confucian model. That cosmic vision is then analyzed and shown to be central to the Aztec world generally. or schema was applied to the region. 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. Vanuatu. Rapoport. 1976) which shows how a single schema seems to underlie. The .Epilogue 227 of work on meaning with which this book is concerned. 1989). see Duncan. city. town. In most cases the approach is very straightforward and direct. farmstead. such as "cues. from the state or realm to the building. 1983). Nemeth 1987 analyzes a cultural landscape that reflects neo-Confucian ideology and celestial prototypes not only on Cheju Island. again reinforcing points made in this book (see also Wood. textual analysis. Moreover. 1971). to distinguish among the levels of meaning discussed earlier.. which has now been studied empirically (e.. in this case of the urban landscape of Kandy (Sri L. and can be used to understand. in which one finds differences between the United States and Western Europe generally and between France and Italy. but also in the past throughout medieval China and Korea. This even applies to studies based on approaches even more "remote"--e. for example. post facto. 1969. Nemeth's study also confirms that the settings incorporating this schema acted as a mnemonic-a central point of this book. that study also again illustrates the difference between insiders and outsiders (e. and Matos. One also finds differences in the perceived residential quality of neighborhoods between the United States and Saudi Arabia (Zube et a].g. 1987) the temple is considered as ritual space embodying a cosmic vision (a typical high-level symbolic meaning). These studies also reemphasize the importance of the cultural context in understanding the various cues that are used. environments on many scales.

In the case of nonverbal communication. where the concern is with cosmology (a typical high-level meaning). Isbell's study emphasizes the great continuity of these cosmological schemata. two doctoral students have done literature reviews as part of independent studies (Despres. This body of research is very active indeed and is growing. including a textbook aimed at high . and even textbooks (e.) have published a great deal since 1981. It is also significant that this work has now reached daily newspapers (e. I suspect very few did. Kendon. 1983). 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.g. Isbell identifies the symbols in straightforward and direct ways (cf. 16th-century Cuzco. 1987b. philosophical. She further concludes that none of the studies deals specifically with environments and objects (semifixed elements). which are generally neglected or ignored. Poyatos. 1988). 1983. It begins with more recent cases (e..g. 19781. and the point is also made that symbols (meanings) are context specific. Ridgeway et al. 1984. 1985. While she is able to identify 1 9 books and 36 doctoral dissertations which have some potential relevance for the study of environmental meaning. Isbell finds it in two prehistoric ceremonial centers 2500 and 3000 years before Cuzco and the ethnographic example. 1983. in press a). Katz and Katz. 1983. syntheses. mainly on facial expressions (see Bull and Rumsey. she also finds that among the 3 6 dissertations. empirical and methodological work. and 10lff. 97ff. 1988). Despres (1987b) concludes that NVC was a prolific area of research in the decade 1977 to 1986. Devlin. Although the approach is structuralist. 1986). and object displays only 4 percent. None of these studies discuss low-level meanings. with its pattern of the Puma on the urban scale and a 20th-century ethnographic example). of the subject matter. In my terms this work is still largely restricted to non-fixed elements-communication among people. Blanck et al.g. Neither does a study of prehistoric ceremonial centers in the Andes (Isbell.. Flannery and Marcus. Goleman. 1981. While the work includes literature reviews. explicit references to environments and physical settings comprise only 7 percent. Having identified the schema. Wiemann and Harrison.g. respectively. not in space (as in the previous studies) but over time. 1988).228 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT metaphysical.. Wolfgang. Rapoport.. 1989b).. Ekman and his group (whom I discuss on pp. For example. Devlin (1988) identifies 13 new books and papers (e.. it ignores the mutual relationship between people and settings as a form of NVC.

1983). Some studies have been influenced. 1984). it supports my more general theoretical argument for the importance of redundancy (see Robinson et al. by my work (e. The second is that people are indeed able very easily to understand meanings communicated by dwellings.g. Most studies.g. Moreover. The first is that semifixed elements d o indeed seem to be the most important in communicating meaning both inside the dwelling (e. p. do not explicitly use NVC but confirm many of the points made in this book: that settings communicate. which is discussed on pp. furnishings. directly or indirectly. fits perfectly into my model and can be reworded in the way suggested (e. There is also work on semifixed elements of all kinds (e..g.g. She also identifies 12 doctoral dissertations on NVC during 1986 and 1987.. and Buchan.Epilogue 229 school teachers (Vargus. Scherer and Ekman. however. material culture is either ignored or explicitly rejected. 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:.g.e. in which my chapter is the only one dealing with material culture). 1986. Given that these two reviews are highly selective. cf. 50). makes a number of useful points. 1988). 1980.. and that semifixed elements and their arrangements are dominant (i. it seems clear that there is much research in many areas of NVC but little or nothing on the built environment (see Poyatos.g. 1981. Farbstein and Kantrowitz. 1980). 1986)-a most significant development. with very few exceptions (e. 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. Hucek.g. furnishings and decorations) and outside (landscaping and outdoor objects). 1982). One study of dwellings in Vancouver. that cultural contexts are critical. esp. 1978).A study of clothing (Wobst. Again. 1985). Ames... 1988. that the relationships are at least as important as the elements). which explicitly takes a semiotic approach (Duncan.. landscaping. like some described in the text. pp 48ff. She also reanalyzes some of Despres' entries (e. Lindsey. The built environment is still being neglected. and serves to support two of my major points. Csikszentmihalyi and RochbergHalton. Ames. To give just one example. as it was when this book was written (e. Some of this work uses the term "symbols" but. 1978.. and .. they can be read together-and their findings can fit into an NVC framework... Goodsell.. 1977. Ames.

On the other hand. Duncan. 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. 1987. 59-63). cited in the text). 1974. and hence distinctiveness was achieved through objects. The levels of agreement found (between 5 9 and 86 percent. who already know one. they greatly constrain possible meanings (see Wollheim. that is. 1987) disagree about whether exteriors or interiors show greater agreement. The two studies (Duncan.230 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT the like. and Perinbanayagam. 1975) that environments d o not communicate meanings but rather that people project meanings onto them. depending on cues and location) are extremely high-much higher than I would have expected. These distinguish among dwellings as stages for social performance. they seem to support the argument in this book that environments and settings d o communicate meanings and. The reasons for this difference are unclear but may include the type of area studied or the culture (one study is from Canada. that is. Sadalla et al.Because this is a gentrifying neighborhood. these two studies implicitly seem to contradict the argument (see Bonta. and at the levels of satisfaction with physical comfort aimed for in the design of heating. These become styles and seem to correspond to what Jopling (1974. 1981). This is also the case with a study of Lincoln Park in Chicago (Suchar and Rotenberg. The former finds that exteriors elicit more agreement because it is more important to communicate meanings to outsiders than to those invited inside. and Buchan. 1981. The latter finds that interiors elicit more agreement because one has more control there. in the case of Puerto Ricans in Boston. They also agree about the greater importance of semifixed elements vis-2-vis fixed features. In spite of the emphasis on semifixed elements. 1985.. calls an aesthetic complex. these studies and . in my discussion on pp. ventilation. and landscaping communicate identity and other meanings. and as providing an atmosphere of private family life and domesticity. ' Both studies agree that attributes of dwellings. Further research to clarify this disagreement would be useful. moreover. 1988). the other from the United States). that if they do so successfully. 1972: 123. as settings for expressing unique individuality. communicate more effectively. three distinct groups were identified for whom dwellings had different overall meanings. Lindsey. semifixed elements. cf. Given the very high levels of agreement. Rapoport.. and air conditioning. furnishings. They may also be artifacts of the methods used.

In all these studies one finds an extension from semifixed elements to fixed-feature elements in terms of the meanings of various dwelling styles. the desirability. the cues that com- . perceived safety. The attributes of the environment are. Its components (Rapoport. 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. they also strongly suggest that what is often called the "aesthetic quality" of environments is in fact much more an aspect of meaning. the study cites this book. not only the wealth and status but also.Epilogue 231 others begin to consider fixed-feature elements (see Ostrowetsky and Bordreuil. There is also another extension of the domain to be discussed later: from domestic: settings to other building types. the original meaning of the various cues persists. and so on. which discusses the meaning of particular regional house styles in France [cf. 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. while this is discussed in terms of "symbolic representation. which is couched in terms of NVC and cues. at least in the United States and in Anglo-American culture more generally. The emphasis on fixed-feature elements is also found in other studies (see Groat. 1988. which are interpreted differently according to the different styles of dwellings. architects' judgments are very different from nonarchitects'." it illustrates my argument. that is. ornateness. In other words. moreover. 1975). because they discuss what I would regard as middle-level meanings. Rapoport. 1985a. 1983) not only seem to be very consistent about the positive and negative qualities of cues. judgments vary among groups. and leadership qualities of the presumed residents. The different styles are also ranked differently in terms of preference. Ohio. well-being. perceived friendliness. 1989) all refer to "symbols" where I refer to cues. and materials (see Barnett. This study and those by Nasar (1988. and while there seems to be no difference between Los Angeles and Columbus. among them size. and as I argued. in the Nasar studies. Nasar. Cherulnik and Wilderman. in press el). 1982. the likely temporal sequence that I discuss in the book seems to be starting. 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. Parenthetically. 1989)indicate either liked or disliked environments on the basis of status. 1980. All studies of this type (see Nasar. 1986. 1989). 1987a). then.

" Many of the more specific comments are clearly congruent with my discussion and illustrations in the book (e.. " and "mental institution. The centrality of the meaning of architectural and other environmental elements usually considered in aesthetic rather than associational terms. Among the changes recommended.. of course. of course." The feel of the project also elicits negative f emotional terms from 53 percent o the residents: "depressing. This is much the case with Lucien Kroll's work at Perseigne d'Alenqon in . 1988). see Robinson et al. many seem clearly meant to change those qualities of the project that communicate negative meanings (including the institutional character discussed above. This is much as suggested in this book (on the basis of Davis and Roizen's 1970 study). More generally. Attributes with negative meanings are associated with the negative image of institutionality. pp. be extended from "architecture" to semifixed elements and material culture generally and hence to the cultural landscape. and the consequent differences between designers and users. become very clear in a study of Maiden Lane." "concentration camp. The various architectural elements and whether they are liked or work are to be understood in terms of their meanings.. an aspect of my distinction between perceptual and associational aspects: this distinction has been used by others. 1984. 1982)." "claustrophobic. it can also. 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. 1984)..232 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT municate such meanings to users. that is. In this case one finds a complete reversal in the interpretation of the look of the project. they have to do with meaning. Here again the central substantive point and the content can be expressed easily in an NVC framework without difficulty or loss. attributes with positive meanings are associated with positive images of domesticity ("homelike"). and similar points made. 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. Among them are "prison.g. also emphasize the importance of redundancy for settings to communicate appropriate meanings. This is clearly the case in a study of the residential aspects of the normalization of mentally retarded people (Robinson et al. " "battery farm. a problem housing estate in London (Hunt Thompson Associates." "closed in. Robinson et al. 14-18). This is. although using the concept of "symbols" ("symbolic aesthetics") and a semiotic approach (Lang. 1984).

to mention just two. in which size. hotels and motels. that of Mexican Americans) and through longitudinal studies. Ivory Coast (Brooke. fences are part of this particular repertoire. funeral homes. for example. 1984). and others. 1984). and religious buildings. among other elements. In fact. furnishings. It is also significant in that i t concentrates on nondomestic settings (banks. 1981)as it is with a project in Boston (Deitz. of elements is involved in communicating Mexican-American identity--what is called a housescape (Arreola. In connection with religious buildings. 1988). striking recent exam A ple of this is the new church at Yamoussoukro. 107-1 11). The latter. 1988). and above all. being a major noticeable difference (Rapoport. restaurants. ornateness. Also. o palettes of elements. repertoires. savings and loan associ ations. In my terms. restaurants. Although it does not adopt an NVC approach. and a range of shops) Other studies have investigated the meanings communicated by the style of suburban office buildings (Nasar and Kang. Color has recently received attention. even to communicate levels of acculturation to the United States (Arreola. used. which I discuss on pages 111-114. or have been. These include. . and government institutions. eventually it becomes apparent that a whole set. Thus one study of color (Foote. Peter's in Rome. and color. it can easily fit into the framework of this book. educational. the important point seems to be that the church is the world's largest and tallest-significantly larger and taller than St.Epilogue 233 France (Revuede /'habitat social. materials. Color has also been shown to communicate ethnic identity (in this case. and yard shrines. identify the various attributes or elements that communicate meaning. In effect they are engaged in w the development of what in this book I call lexicons. exterior house color. style. churches. the emphasis is on dwellings and urban areas. landscaping and plant materials. one of these is height (see pp. 1977). size. 1989). public. 1981). or system. 1983) implicitly discusses redundancy and emphasizes corn munication. scale. the book discusses a number of elements of the repertoire or palette that can be. it is the most recent evolution of a historic landscape that has links to pre-Columbian Mexico and to Spain. This includes property enclosure. Thus the study of meaning is being extended to new types of environments While this book does discuss offices. is clearly a major attri bute that communicates meaning very effectively. All the studies cited. as discussed in the text. Thus fences and fence varieties can also be used as indicators of the Mexican-American identity of residents (Arreola. height are emphasized.

and hence that redundancy is most important and both reinforces and makes more precise the meanings communicated. 1983. subgroups knew the house features in their own category best. decoration. the notion of the culture core. and electricity. and it is clearly both possible and essential to begin to develop lexicons or repertoires of such indicators. piped water. This tends to support my argument about the importance of cultural context and great cultural and group specificity. as I suggest more generally. 1977) and already mentioned earlier in this epilogue: that there . All these elements. is contextual (see p. 1985) to be important indicators of status. the elements communicating status change over time-from type of dwelling." consent may be refused (Practice. Moreover.g. degree of elaborateness. discussed briefly on page 83 of this book.. In addition.. This recently led to legal action in Britain. kind of wall cavities and protrusions. General status or rank could be determined broadly by everyone.. with a single exception.234 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT this once again emphasizes the importance of redundancy. the use of modern materials such as cement and paint. It also supports a point made implicitly in this book and explicitly elsewhere (e. Second. 1983: 3). This. Rapoport. it becomes clear that. Pavlides. supports my argument in the first section of this epilogue. depending on context. One of the first longitudinal studies of vernacular design (in Greece. 1 9 in text). where minute details were noticed. so that a given color can be conforming or nonconforming.e. of course. The role played by modern elements in a situation like this and in developing countries generally is a point made in this book (e. sets of elements are consistent. the removal of "old-fashioned" features. in press d). This also applies to color. if "inappropriate. pp. and the like to degree of modernization. This has proved to be of great importance in studying and understanding meaning in the situations of rapid culture change characteristic of developing countries.g. and the introduction of furniture and appliances (i. that is. where bright colors on listed buildings (such as the Royal Crescent in Bath) have been held by the courts to be "development". size of house and of spaces. like other attributes or cues. That paper also further develops. First. subtle distinctions became more important within each group. semifixed elements) that are absent and hence not very important in traditional dwellings (see Rapoport. Two other points in that study further strengthen my argument. 130 and Fig. however. 142-144) and has been greatly developed since then in Rapoport. especially in more recent environments. 1985) found that meaning was a most important aspect of the built environment and that status was the most important meaning. the meaning of fences. are shown (by Pavlides. in a major way.

they can help to interpret archaeological data in terms of meaning (their ideotechnic function [Binford. 1984. and most recently. This is also my reading of a number of the studies reviewed in this epilogue. 1987.. in press c). in press c. There are two reasons for using this evidence. As part of my argument for broadening the definition of the built environment as a subset of material culture. then one can have greater confidence in the approach.. Hunt Thompson Associates. all cultures. 1988). when so little is left. in press e ) . The second reason concerns the relation between the study of meaning and archaeology. and this helps to make the evidence broader and more diverse. . 1982.g. Since designers are the quintessential outsiders. 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.. one's analysis and proposals become much more convincing if plausible general mechanisms can be identified or proposed.g. Ethnoarchaeology is one such attempt. in press a . 1986a. Groat. I not only extended it to cover the system of settings/cultural landscapes but also to include all types of environments. 1988. 1985a. I myself have considerably expanded two other points made in this book. 1989).Epilogue 235 are differences between insiders and outsiders (e. Brower. and hence any generalizations more valid. the second concerns a body of evidence and examples. As part of the latter I had begun to use archaeological evidence and material in this book. I further developed this in the chapter dealing with levels of meaning (Rapoport. If meanings can be identified in archaeological material. Rapoport. the full time span. This I have since greatly elaborated. 1988). 1982.g. it follows that there are differences between designers and the lay public (e. if environmentbehavior studies and archaeology can be used together. and it plays a major role in a forthcoming book on the relation between EBS and historical data (Rapoport. especially Chapter 5). The first is conceptual. including semifixed feature elements and also people. which unfortunately has had little interaction with EBS (Kent. 1983. Rapoport. showing its importance generally and demonstrating how its various components act together to communicate various meanings (e. As part of my redefinition of the domain of EBS. The first is that it greatly expands the time depth of the evidence one can use. Some preliminary ideas on mechanisms In dealing with the scientific understanding and explanation of any phenomenon. Lee. I also briefly suggested (pp. 19621). in press a. Conversely.

otherwise puzzling occurrences. intriguing and promising. It is also encouraging that after developing this material my attention was drawn to some work from Germany (Kaminsky. Clearly this will be a very brief and preliminary discussion. The major process proposed in this book is that if cues in settings are noticed and understood. increasingly sophisticated. However. probable: it seems to be the best explanation of a great variety of findings. It also means that a whole new large body of work-conceptual. the setting is seen as acting as a mnemonic activating all this culturally acquired knowledge. 1986b). While settings d o not determine appropriate behavior. In effect a repertoire of appropriate behaviors is retrieved from storage. Some suggestions about a possible mechanism come from work in artificial intelligence and cognitive science-a large. without the topic being developed to any significant extent. as it deserves to be. indeed. . it is broadly similar in emphasizing the link with Barker's concept of behavior settings. 1987. This is not surprising. theoretical. The coincidence and overlap is. and appropriate (i. 1988). reserving cognitive channel capacity for more important matters (see Rapoport. and much evidence is adduced to suggest that it is very likely and. and the identification of possible mechanisms becomes a most important task. interdisciplinary. the social situation appropriate to that setting is identified.' While rather different in detail and not drawing the interpretation I do. This process is elaborated in the text. Should these suggested mechanisms be confirmed. after all. expected or congruent) behavior is brought to attention and elicited. and rapidly growing field. as I d o on page 85 of this book. this in itself is most important and promising.e. there are major pressures to conform. at the very least.. and empirical-becomes potentially relevant. 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.236 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT This is because they can help to explain how any suggested processes work. Kruse. some mechanisms have been proposed in different connections which work in ways analogous to what is proposed in this book. a major function of culture is to routinize behavior. and appropriate action is amazingly often the result. In it. making co-action possible. Thus any findings bearing on mechanisms have major implications. it would make my proposed process that much more likely and convincing. and so on. no mechanism was identified that might make this process work.

which go back at least to Sir Frederick Bartlett in 1932 (Bartlett. For example. Schank and Abelson (1977: 5) use a restaurant visit as their example: the visit elicits a restaurant script. 1981). 1967). introduces behavior anc! involves a typical and organized sequence of events. Thagard (1988: 198) points out that schema theory. the script is then the appropriate behavioral repertoire . discourse understanding.g. and Schank are still referred to in all discussions in the literature and have been used extensively for all kinds of purposes. and hence as leading to routinized behavior (see Rapoport. Abelson. is central in EBS (see Rapoport. The concept of scripts (Schank and Abelson. learning. 1976. 1977. among other things. as a framework within which particulars take on meaning as a way of life. Piaget. 1977. Kelly. I have long argued that the concept of schemata. which help to encode and retrieve information. 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. Abelson. 1967) and on which Lewin. while not universally accepted. which has other scripts embedded in it and is itself embedded in the general frame or schema for a restaurant. The congruence with my postulated process is almost complete. Boulding. Tolman. 1986b).Epilogue 237 The mechanism that I propose is based on the concepts of "frames" (Minsky. An individual expects these to occur on the basis of prior learning and experience. I r l my case the frame is the situation identified by users on the basis of cues in the setting. 1975) and "scripts" (Schank and Abelson. Abelson. as a blueprint or design for life. 1984). remembering (see Bartlett. 1981) and how they are related (e. 1977. the major concern of anthropology. 1979.Mandler. 1984). and problem solving. 1975) and have been postulated to play an important role in perception. not. and others based their work. of which they are a specific type (Brewer and Nakamura. The papers by Minsky. necessarily as defined in psychology but also in their anthropological meaning. schemata seem to be framelike structures (Minsky. This then reminds users how to act. Through these it is also related to the concept of schemata more generally. There is a very large literature on schemata in psychology. Moreover. 1976. which are related to frames. 1979.. Further more. which acts as a mnemonic. 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. and enculturation.

I begin with the argument that a global affective response. There is another aspect of meaning that I propose in this book. 115-1 16): (1) There is a logic or order to individual structures in the human mind. Thus. which is also discussed in the previous section of this epilogue. more recent work in psychology. 1977: 50. I adduce much evidence for this position.In this book (pp. It follows that environmental evaluation and preference are more a matter of overall affective response than of detailed analysis. light switches. and interiors. brain science. without further elaboration and pending further research and development. The ideas of schema or frame theory have also been applied to part of the built environment and material culture-industrial design. equipment. and his analysis of industrial design extends and complements mine of landscapes. settlements. that is." (3) Much of the human power of deductive thought comes from using the information in one schema to deduce properties in another. 1987). various artifacts and machines. The many examples in Norman 1988 which deal with small-scale elements of the built environment closely resemble my arguments in this book. in the sense that the "success" of environments depends on their congruence with appropriate images (Rapoport. fits perfectly into a powerful mechanism being uncovered by research in cognitive science. they are more a matter of latent than of manifest functions. 14-15) I then argue that these global affective responses are based on the meaning that environments. In this application three propositions are made (pp. and cognitive science has made available two developments which . these are "schemas" or "frames." (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.238 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT drawn upon to match the situation. and the automatic or "mindless" response is culturally routinized behavior. and the like (Norman. Once again. door handles. enough has been said at least to make a case that the process by which settings communicate meaning and how this influences behavior. 1988). sometimes based on subliminal perception. which I developed in this book quite independently. and particular aspects of them.60). have for people. and they are largely affected by images and ideals. typically precedes any more detailed analysis and even sets the tone or feeling for more conscious perception (see Russell and Snodgrass. buildings.

neurochernistry. examples. It also confirms the role of subliminal perception. or something very much like them. it does not seem that they would change anything-they would just provide further support. in popular form. although it would be both interesting and u s e f ~ lAll I will do. The first is that there is now much additional evidence of the importance of affect generally (for one review. and even diagram. the updating is neither systematic nor complete.~ recent newspaper account that. It thus seems . and at an accelerating rate. is to refer to a . and so on which provides the bases for a mechanism to explain the process that I postulated. and the like. This once again strengthens the likelihood that the particular processes proposed. and hypotheses have been supported. therefore. summarizes some of the research (Goleman. neurotransmitters. There was also a limit set for the size of this epilogue. It also begins to describe. What seems important is that there is a vast amount of work in brain anatomy. the thalamus and amygdala) and the pathways between them. while many references could be added. or even before having registered fully what causes the emotional reaction. 1987. 1989a). in any field that is alive and progressing. neurobiology. Also. the parts of the brain involved (e.g. This is partly because work and publication continue.. 8). see Russell and Snodgrass. see also n. are in fact those operating in the way meaning from the built environment influences preference and behavior. neurophysiology. which avoid the neocortex and which provide the mechanism for the global affective response. a complete and systematic review could have doubled the size of the book. There is also another reason. 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. The literature on both these topics is voluminous and cannot possibly be reviewed here. and elaboration. Conclusion This epilogue is relatively brief. and much empirical evidence in its favor. Over the years I have tended to use my earlier work as "predictions" tested to the extent that my conclusions. cognitive neurobiology. The second again concerns possible mechanisms at the level of brain structure. and although it updates the discussion through the middle of 1989. and partly because to be thorough I would need to review quite a few different fields. proposals. and this seems unnecessary.Epilogue 239 strengthen the postulated process.

to make it esoteric. of material from television and film. be used. This justifies my emphasis on the methodological simplicity and directness of the NVC approach asone of its major attractions. in press f).. which will now be at the same level as that of the defense counsel (Hoffmann. in earlier work and in this book. including cognitive mapping. 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 should not. More than ever it seems that attempts to complicate the issue. a recent newspaper story described the "symbolic" lowering of the special. As just one example. and straightforward. it follows that the study of these processes and meanings should be equally simple. 1985a. advertising. It is also desirable pragmatically for the reasons given in this book. In most cases people notice and interpet cues in settings in straightforward. It is also of interest that this change is traced to the impact of the "Perry Mason" television series. This is shown by my use. not just by me but by others. Given all this. are part of a general tendency toward obfuscation in both the social sciences and the humanities. studies of en- . newspapers. 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. 18). This does not mean that the full repertoire of methods cannot. Rapoport. effortless. The material I have reviewed in this epiloque suggests that although some significant modifications to a part of Chapter 2 proved necessary. I have continued to collect and analyze such material. novels.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. difficult. higher dais for prosecutors in Italian courts. magazines. This process is usually self-evident and unproblematic. projective tests.g. and arcane. 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. 1989). It is noteworthy that a great many resources are being expended to lower the dais a few inches. and simple ways and to act appropriately. 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. But that is a topic for another day. at least in a given cultural context. 1985b. and the like. easy. and it continues to show this self-evident use of meaning (e.

and from the book . although perhaps not the only.. say. of course. The first is that there is explanatory theory. which is the subject of this book. 1986b). cognitive science. It also continues to b e the case that very little NVC work concerns the built environment and material culture. not only is NVC clearly a progressive research program but. Without engaging in polemics. 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. but in my view. that I was opposed to theory (Bedford. Hodder. There are clearly other views." which is really nothing more than opinion. by research in neuroscience. the exact opposite of my position. experiments. and related fields. in which it is often necessary to have a "natural history" stage (see Rapoport. in fact. That is. they may even be dominant (e. In addition. ideology. These arguments for a relatively straightforward and direct approach to the study of meanings-as contrasted with. they do not stand up to analysis (see Rapoport. it is able to accommodate much work that seems to use other approaches. is also important. which is based o n research and supported by empirical data and which leads to understanding and prediction. I was criticizing the latter. as one reviewer of this book thought. Furthermore.and middle-level meanings that built environments have for users. observation. approach for the study of the everyday low. This is clear from the reviews by Despres (1987b) and Devlin (1988). 31984). The discovery of possible mechanisms for the processes proposed. the supposedly theory-driven approach of semiotics-does not mean. and s o on. I argue in the text. This. 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.Such data are clearly best obtained using the NVC approach as I have developed it. in press a). 1986).Epilogue 241 vironmental memory.g. Thus nonverbal communication is the preferred. what passes for theory in too many fields. the construction of explanatory theory cannot begin until there is sufficient empirical data to suggest directions and to constrain such theory construction. Methodological sophistication can go with simplicity of approach even in the study of high-level meanings. and the like. both inherently and seen broadly and eclectically as I suggest. is the case with linguistics. Second. and then there is "theory. 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. I will make just two points.

8. and there are. although I have not pursued this. 7. It seems to me. my suggestion on page 3 5 that the first two should be combined now seems inappropriate." completed in late September 1989).242 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT edited by Poyatos (1988)." and "low-level" present a problem by implying some hierarchy of value. . some differences between the two fields. 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. Notes 1. however. Note that even in the examples of traditional religious settings that I discuss where high-level meanings have been shown to be present. A recent review of the literature by one of my doctoral students. and symbols. and SO on. my argument is that most users utilized very similar low-level cues (Rapoport. 5. 4. I realize that there is disagreement with "lumping" semiotics and linguistics together. 2. they seem to be used as a synonym for "meaning" rather than in any technical sense. When "symbols" are mentioned or used in studies of contemporary everyday settings. these settings accommodate users' needs rather better than the housing in Singapore-as did traditional culture-specific dwellings. and in the light of this discussion. But that is another topic. In any case. and it is central in a n y understanding of environment-behavior interaction. My use of this concept in this connection does not mean that I necessarily accept Lakatos' more general views about science. Paul Maas ("Aesthetic emotions. however. Admittedly. of which about 400 are directly relevant to the point 1 am making here. the history of science. in fact. this may be so. in which my chapter is the only one to address those domains (Rapoport. Fridrich Dieckmann. This is. The point has been made to me that the terms "high-level. 6. 1988). While not intended. affective signs. 1988). 3. a relatively minor point and does not invalidate the rest of my argument. try using nonverbal communication approaches. contains 465 references covering both aspects." "middlelevel. that the starting point of semiotics is linguistics and that major linguistic influences permeate the former. These were drawn to my attention by a Visiting Fellow in our department. There is also a possible link with Tuan's (1978) distinction between signs.

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D (1969) "The Image of San Cr~stobal" Monadnock 4 3 29-45 Zube. M F (1986) Louder than Words An lntroductlon to Nonverbal Communicatlon Ames Iowa State Unlversrty Press V~nntcombe. Plans. and L S m ~ t h (1985) "Nonverbal cubs and status an expectatron states approach " Amerlcan Journal of Sociology 9 0 (5) 955-978 Defrnltlon of Normalrzation Robtnson. et a1 (1987)"ldent~ty symbolrsm In hous~ng "Environment and Behavlor 1 9 (5) 569-587 Schank. C S . and R P Harrison [eds ] (1983)Nonverbal Interaction Beverly Hllls. C S Law. Applications. M C (1985a) "Contemporary custom redefining domestic space In Lon gana. Vanuatu " Ethnology 2 4 (4) 269-279 (1985b) "Moving houses res~dentralmobility and the mobllrty of residences rn Longana. no 61 Wolfgang. et dl (1984) Towards an Arch~tectural Destgn Prtnc~plesfor Housrng Severely and Profoundly Retarded Adults Mlnneapolls Unlvers~tyof Mrnnesota (September) Rodman. P (1988) Cornputattonal Ph~losophy Science Cambridge. R C . plans and knowledge. Anthropolog~cal Papers." pp 421-432 In N Johnson-La~rd and P C Wason (eds ) Thlnklng Readrngs In Cognttrve Science Cambr~dge Cam bridge University Press Scherer. and J Snodgrass (1987) "Emotion and the environment. J Berger." pp 317-342 tn C E Cleland (ed ) For the Director Research Essays In Honor of James B Grlffrn Unlversity of Michigan. Museum of Anthropology. Goals and Understandrng An lnqurry Into Human Knowledge Structures Hlllsdale. J W .-(1979) "Scripts. C L . Intercultural Insights Lewiston. D P (1986) "Ne~ghborhoodconf~dence a cr~trcalfactor In nerghborhood revrtallzatlon " Envlronment and Behavror 18 (4) 480-501 Vargus. and P Ekman [eds ] (1982) Handbook of Methods In Nonverbal Behavror Research Cambrrdge Cambrtdge Unrversity Press Suchar. J A . NY Hogrefe Wood. Tampa. A [ed ] (1984)Nonverbal Behavior Perspectrves. and R B Bechtel(1985) "Pereerved urban resrdent~al quallty a cross-cultural blmodal study " Envlronment and Behav~or1 7 (3) 327 350 ." pp 245-280 in D Stokols and 1 Altman (eds ) Handbook of Environmental Psychology. MA MIT Press1 of Bradford Books Varady. CA Sage Wobst. NJ Erlbaum -.Epilogue 247 ---(in press f ) "indirect approaches to environment-behavior research " Natlonal Geographrcal Journal of Indta. K R ." 35 (pts 3-4) Revue de I'habltat social (1981) "Alen~on I'rmpossrble rehabllitatron de Persergne " No 6 3 (May) 32-47 Rldgeway. Aprll (mlmeo) Thagard. P (1976) People of the Eland Rock Paint~ngsof the Drakensberg Bushmen as a Reflectron of Thelr Lde and Thought Pretermanbburg Unlversity of Natal Press Wremann. J Vlnlng. 1989 specla1 rssue on 'Literature and Humanistic Geography. E H . and R Rotenberg (1988) "Judglng the adequacy of shelter a case from Lrncoln Park ' Presented at the meetlng of the Soclety for Applied Anthropology. and R P Abelson (1977) Scr~pts. H M (1977) "Stylrst~cbehavror and information exchange. vol 1 New York W~ley Sadalla. J M . FL. Vanuatu " American Anthropolog~st 7 56-87 8 Russell. E J .


162. 56. 49. 162. 75. 74. 84. 95. 82. 9 4 Affect. 37. 43 Amsterdam. 75. 79. 19. 148 Aesthetics. 141. 137. 140. 90. 48. 104. 117. 86. 65. 155 Cambodia. 43 Bicultural~sm. 146. 19 Anthropology. 137. 25. 119. 15. 70-72.The following index IS reproduced from the original e d ~ t ~ o It . 114. 92. 140. 186 Berber. 21. 80. 137. 64. 114. 116. 25. 85. 52.94. 16. see also Front Bali. 24. 195. 14. 67.149. 185. 55. 140 Affordance.9. 27.27. 152. 47. 142. 90. 64. 187 China. 154. 89. 27. 98. 148. 107. 27 Chain operations. 173. 142. 77. 47. 36. 19. 9. 27. 16. 184 Back. 128-129. 46. 117 Catal Huynk. 56. 26. 173. 187 Build~ngs. 24. 67. 43-44. 40. 177 Cognition. 23. 43. 130. 47. 14.96. 190-191 Behavior. 35. 118 Archaeology. 81. 47. 16. 14. 26. 105. 43. 43 Code (includes coding. 30. 145. 186 Ainu. 70. 72. 116. 75. 82. 59. 45. 63. 40. 20. 15.95. 43 Britain. 128. 174. 180. 30. 124. 188-189. 175 Cities. 124. 30.9. 19.). 104. 115. see Urban Clothing. encoding.covers subjects n only and includes neither names found in the text nor references to the new epilogue Aborigines. 111.61. 57. 52. 9 0 Cathedral. 125. 63. 117. 92. 97-98. 56. 170. 180. 115. 60.62. 48. 65. 118 Color. Australian.43. 147. 94. 13. 164. 77. 27. 56. 139 Associational. 35 Africa. 88. 20. 91. 198 Architect. 26.85-86 Rororo.INDEX NOTE. 143. 177-195 . 43 Bedouin. 87. 80. 147. 174-175. 179. 139. 90. 50. 191 Communication.126. etc. 78. 96. 45-46. 15. 147. 127.60. 27. 58. 127. 99. 86. 150-151 Church. 141. 96. 111. 75. 118.64. 43. 22. 118.132. 111 116. decoding. 133. 5 1. 73. 87. 43. 82. 91-92. 197 Atoni. 15. 57. 158-159. 124. 93. 181.

61. 92. 27. 23. 22. 9. 22. 163 Density.95. 156. indirect effects of. 117. 34. 99. 106. 140 Greece. 173. 102. 30.67. 77. 46. 107. 15. 137. 24. 35. 178 Culture core. 23.114. 44. 70-71. 14. 172. 45. 193-195 House-settlement system. 198 Crowding. 94. 35. 145. 107. 27. 39. 22. 63. 156. 85. 159. 77. 152. 4 9 . 9. 1 13 Evolution. 162. 32. 76. 128-129. 65. 95. 158. 126. . 171. 106-107. 19. 47. 133-134. 30. 9. 115. 55-56 Environmental design. 89. 181 France. 144. 141. 66.189 Fixed-feature elements. 86. 67. 115 Front. 115. 117. 43 Domain. 26.112 Culture. 139. 156-157. 121. 129-130. 76. 46. 173. 53. 48. 74. 32. 155.124. 132. 95. 39. 124. 173. 19. 27. 198 Group identity. 15. 132. 56. 21-23. 119. 102. 101. 187. 4 3 . 45. 193. 163. 181. 30. 188. 55-56. 22. 113. 19. 131. 134. 101. 26. 52. 140. 143. 132-133. 137. 115. 137-141. 170. 88. 152. 21. 60. 4 1 . 42. 56. 44. 172 Designers. 87-90. 62 Environmental quality. 147. 26. 141. 24. 145. 32 Geography. 101. 124. 70. 147. 118.40. 93. 29. 174. 188189. 89. 111. 184 Content analysis. 22. 24. 130. 51. 59. 9. 59. 147. 75.10. 170. 166. 23. 26-27. 26. 127. 115. 61. 26. 144. 108. 117. 169. 98. 73. 123. 124. 131132. 142. 56. 106. 82. 193 Complexity. 170. 36. 22. 142-143. 182 Courtrooms. 171. 157. 92. 26. 157. 11. 116. 43. 127. 132. 170. 132. 69.111.141. 192 Dwelling.62. 157. 170. 172. 141. 9. 44. 57. 145. 170. 183-185. 191 Cultural un~versals. 162167. 79. 189. 24. 9. 76. 47. 26. 191 Cultural landscape. 15. 137. 140. 15. 34. 82. 118. 65-70. 126. 76. 94. 89. 68. 105. 150. 20. 162. 71. 104. 118 Fang. 130. 129. 84. 52. 81. 157. 139. 88 Decoration. 38. 104. 192. 181 High style. 99. 1 1 1. 162 Dogon. 21-22. 198 Homogeneity. see also Back Furnishings. 193 House (includes housing). 97. 193 Generalization. 102. 74. 5 6 . 64. 156. 116 Europe. 107. medieval. 32. 179 Cultural specificity. 25. 172. 51. 159. 198 Ethology. 96. 124-125 Crime. 152. 156. 90. 158. 26. 170.117. 159. 171. 139. 112. 185. 15. 99. 36. 140. 142. 195. 64. 192 Density. 187. 63. 17 1-172 Cross-cultural. 9. 126. 56. 147153. 189. 58. 43. 77. 145. 181 Garden. 172. 60. 1 1-13. 35. 23. 15. 107. 47.118. 5 1 . 144. 23. 164. 134.106. 184. perceived. 138. 30. 5 2 . 102. 15. 112-114. 119. 188. 182. 170. 167. 106. 128. 58. 15. 26. 56. 131. 137. 50. 21. 128. 67. 142.92. 167. 127. 159 Cues. 40. 75.111. 53. 62. 158 Fences. see House Enculturation.61. 89. 156-157. 27. 49. 157. 97.52. 59. 154 C o n t e x t . 133. 136. 66. 91. 186 Defensive structuring. 130. 57. 177-183.250 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 59.60. 153. 16. 56. 4 0 . 167-169.91. 139. 180. 65. 117 Group. 19. 72. 163-168. 16. 137. 64. 34. direct effects of. 4 4 . 119. 132. 112. 40. 19. 94. 76 Environment. 16. 100. 172.

30. 36. 114 Neighborhood. 36. 99. 36. 15. 35-53 Methodology. 92. 40. study of. 115 Lifestyle. 197 . 127. organization of. 140 Milwaukee. 192 Middle East. 142. 188. 34. 8. 168. 32. 194. 134. 110-121. 133. 98. 115. 27. 139. 48-53. 129. 115. 179 India. 142. 169 New Guinea. 43 Parks. 134. 112. 134. 47. 116. 179 Identity. 36. 156. 2 2 Pantheon. 117 Italy. 77. 170. 23. 171. 118. 152. 153. 93. 50. 101. 80-81. 88. 52. 15. 119. 40. 51. 38. 27. 186 Inference. 152. 162-163. 172. importance of. 77. 117. 114. 27. 145. 66. 97. 123. 95. 126. 184. 40. 102. see also Manifest Latin America. 51. 11. 26-34. 123-124. 75. 153. 129-130. 183. 28. 139. 132. 189-190 Maya. 157. 142. 184. 112. 26. 193 Neutral place. 67. 141. 105. 129. 174. 61. 178. 107. 96. 87. 9. 67. 25. 90. 132. 144. 167. 126. 29. 87. 127. 16. 119. 76. 80. 29. 16. 24. 114. 84. 153. 26. 82. 99. 94. environmental. 144145. 107. 19. 134. 141-142. 137. 70. 126-127.137. 127. 73. 49. 162. 142. 69. 27. 33. 49. 198 Nonvisual senses. 173. 37. 14. 69. 28. 191. 66. 47. 35. 119. 98. 45. 198 Mexico. 150. 87-121 . 162. 159. 34.170. 23. 138. 27. 141 Landscape. 115 Noticeable difference. 126. 96101. 87. 167. 140. 129. 89. 84. 117. 108. 68. 129. 158. 91. 73. 63. 139. 21. 86. 111. 191 Open-endedness. 185. 9 1 Materials. 30. 145 Perception (includes perceptual). 115. 170 Nubia. 56. 97. 181. 27. 114. 74. 131. 126. 156. 173. 11 1. 21. 162168. 9. 169 Information. 45. 157 Landscaping. 144. 34. 49. 134. 114-116. 19. 171. 107. 127. 173 Lexicon. 89. 198 Moslem clty. 140. 55. 71. 134. 183. 197 Model. 32. 129. 185. 128-129 Navaho. 179. 88. 181-183. 121. 14. 72. 194 Isphahan. 120. 19. 92. 28. 26. 96. 129. 139. 26. 121. 35. 27. 82. 53. 112. 173. 26. 118. 63. 76. 163-164. 155. 150. 173. 145 Lawn. 139. 77. 116. 90. 104. 198 Manifest. 80. 50. 174. 141. see Decoration Overdesign. 15. 52. 173 Image. 163. 131. 121 Location. 164. 126. 177. 105.139. 192 Marrakesh. 188. 37. 30. 117. 52. 108. 72. 184. 186. 152. 23. 144. 145. 16. 43. 155. 49. 46. 99. 1 1. 194 Man-environment studies. 170. 172. 116. 176. 26. 127-128.177. 76. 106. 132. 55-86. 155156. 175 North West Coast (U. 11. 66. 187. 192. 12 1. 121. 184 Nonverbal communication. 43. 149 Mosque. 47. 9. 114. 75. 74. 102.123. 84. 24. 144. 22. 169 Pattern.136. 189.Index 251 Ideal. 128. 156-157. 188 Meals. 169. 100. 95 Meaning. 139. 108. 37. 198 Linguistics (includes language). 51. 24. 45 Ornament. 43. 43. see also Latent Maori. 169. 137. 69. 73. 155. 11. 91.). 72. 57. 91. 167 Mnemonic function of environment. 46. 159. 181 Latent. 174-175. 56. 143. 186 Nonfixed-feature elements. 22. 45.S. 119.

95. 89. 178 Renaissance church. 169. 142. 148 Recreation. 57. 77. 91. 174. 152. 23. 121. 87. 162. 88. 56. 4 0 . 118. 45-46 Pragmatics. 94-95. 147. 150. 46. 80. 121. 70. 94. 197. 39. 73. 97. 1 17. 28. 121. 32. 129. 124. 78. 78. 158 Popular design. 157. 151-153. 90. 132.173. 84. 52 Semifixed-feature elements. 67. 43. 118. 136. 198 Time. 89. 149. 162. 56. 159. 32. 167. 121. 152. 117. 52.44. 139. 41. 156. 34. 39. 191 Structuralism. 63. 61. 169. 175 Territory. 174. 35 Semantics. 28. 139. 193 Stress. 172 Sacred. 152. 93-94. 80.252 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Personalization. 36-43. 69. 128. 118. 150 Private. 93. 29. 133 Signal detection theory. 193 Standards. 130-131. 185 Sign. 100. 115. 179.167. 59-61. 119. 126-127. 172-173 Symbol (includes symbolism).41. 15. 115. 75 Taxonomy.187. 9. 21. 174. 50. 153. 89. 65. 139. 79-80. 5 1. 50. 172. 65. 162. 171 Semantic differential. 34. 154. 115. 128. 66. 171. 23. 39-40. 96. 169. 175. 40. 43. 118. 22. 140. 141. 43. 171. 76. 80 Syntactics. 141. 133. 99. 56. 61. 43 Repertory grid. 145. 26 Status. 11 1 Theory. 48. 36. 159.81. 26. 95. 47. 30. 141. 190-191 Trees. 30. 88. 105. 183. 35 Place. 141. 126. 83. 9. 90. 116. 162-168. 29. 193. definition and interpretation of. 124. 91. 21. 48. 178179. 32. 33. 45. 177. 9. 118.25. 73. 173. 181 South Africa. 28. 90. 40. 99. 152. 80. 145. 92. 56. 136. 188. 26. 35. 133. 144. 141. 162. 114 Quebec. 116. 99. 67. 145. 178.84-85. 15. 27. 175-176. 35. 173. 73 Situation. 181 Semiotics.66. 92. 56. 120. 124. 32. 5 1. 185. 124. 69. 184. 107. 194 Peru.29. 68-69. 159. 28. 170. 14. 112. 57.41. 147. 75. 26. 158. 138. 116. 64. 11 1. 36. 14. 24. 118. 40. 56. 159. 9. 180. 153. 170. 26. 71. 157.28. 37. 38. 132. 59. 142. 134.43-48. 194 Street. 186. 16. 118 Temple. 85. 144. 84. 156. 127. 185. 155. 63. 56. 24 South America. 39. 77. 85-86. 154. 191 Rural. 137. 116-117. 96. 191 Thailand. 92. 141.94. 56. 27. 149-152. 147. 145. 134. 186 Schema. 158. 144. 9. 23. 36. 99. 88. 36 Rules. 47. 35. 107. 94. 198 Shops (includes shopping). 157. 187 . 75. 62. 43. 132. 119. 188. 137. 170. 142 Phenomenology. 27. 194 Redundancy. 14. 114. 191. 164. 37. 66. 67. 93. 118. 144145. 155. 156. 40. 154. 184. 179-180 Tombs. 99. 29. 186 Plants (includes planting). 158. 62. 107. 98. 30.43. 37. 15.168 United States. 77-79. 89-96. 156. 89. 159. 177 Preliterate.50. 187 Relationships. 35. 77. 152. 152. 181. 156-157. 141. 50.40. 133 Suburb (includes suburban). 188. 121. 144-145. 65. 27. 14. 185. 139 Public. see also Public Psychology. 32. 19. 169. 38. 46. 27. 181 Symbolic interactionism. 52. 147.145 Setting. 57. 131. see also Private Pueblos. 43. 89. 28. 140 Space organization. 150. 35. 127. 37. 22. 91.

27. 7 6 . see Plants Vernacular. 183. 117. 117. 27. 27. 21. 43. 34. 150. 134. 1 17. 141. 1 19. 40. 149 . 137-176 Users. 141-142. 90. 16. 188 Values. 158. 198 Village. 64. 119. 4 0 . 8 0 . 99. 22. 145. 4 4 . 7 0 . 19. 89. 4 0 . 9. 70. 76. 157. 98. 115. 1 4 . 4 5 . 22. 158. 20. 189 Wilderness.Index 253 Urban. 159. 141. 3 4 . 179 Vegetation. 89. 92. 4 3 . 142. 28. 29-30. 30. 88.28-29. 9. 21. 141. 139. 159 Yoruba. 26. 15. 24. 121.

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