ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amos Rapoport is Distinguished Professor in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has taught at the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, at the University of California, Berkeley, and at University College, London, and has held visiting appointments in Israel, Turkey, Great Britain, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, and elsewhere. He has also lectured by invitation and been a Visiting Fellow in many countries. Professor Rapoport is one of the founders o the new field of Environmentf Behavior Studies. His work has focused mainly on the role of cultural variables, cross-cultural studies, and theory development and synthesis. In addition to the present book, he is the author of House Form and Culture (originally published in 1969 and translated into five languages), Human Aspects of Urban Form (19771, and History and Precedent in Environmental Design (1990). In addition, he has published over two hundred papers, chapters, and essays, many of them invited, and is the editor or coeditor of four books. He has been the editor in chief of Urban Ecology and associate editor of Environment and Behavior, and he has been on the editorial boards of many professional journals. In 1980 the Environmental Design Research Association honored him with its Distinguished Career Award. Professor Rapoport has been the recipient of a Senior Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Graham Foundation Fellowship. During the academic year 1982-83 he was a Visiting Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, of which he is now a Life Member. He has also been a member of the program committee (1987-1988) and the jury (1989) for the International City Design competition.

The Meaning of the Built Environment

A M O S

R A P O P O R T

The Meaning of the Built Environment
A NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION APPROACH

With a New Epilogue by the Author

THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA PRESS

TUCSON

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.

CONTENTS
Preface 1 The Importance of Meaning
The Meanrngs of Env~ronments0 Users' Meanings and Designers' Meanrrlgs Perceptual and Assoclatronal Aspects o f the Environment

2
3

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

4

Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning
Fixed-Feature Elements Semrfrxed-Feature Elements Nonfixed-Feature Elements 0 The Nonverbal Cornmunlcation Approach
0

5 6

Small-Scale Examples of Applications IJrban Examples of Applications
Redundancy and Clai rty o f Cues Suburban Image Urban Cues

7

Environment, Meaning, and Communication
The Nature of "Enulronment" Organlzat~on ofspace Organization o f Time Organization of Communrcation 0 Organization c$ Meanrng The Relationship Between Meaning and Cornmunlcation

Conclusion References Epilogue Index

2 19 249

UNIVERSITY 1.IBRAEI"IES MPNEGBE-MELLON UNIVERFiS'fY

For Dorothy .

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

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

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

each letting in a little of the outside. surrounds a bleak space around which embryo ideas openly float. glaring white light. 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. These descriptions (as well as photographs of the three classrooms) are given in full elsewhere (Rapoport. 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. 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. and the Berkeley Hills. the bare surgical-like atmosphere further encouraged by the plain. everything in it could be made of plastic.12 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT and studies done over long periods of time. sensual confusion was the operating-room green walls. long tables. cluttered. 1967a). too American. too large. utilitarian chairs and the harsh. 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. gives the large room a close. In 1966 I came across several sets of comments by student teachers of English and by teachers of English participating in a summer institute. about the campus. in conglomerate dissaray. too modern. The low-hanging phosphorescent lights diffuse a n uncomfortably revealing glare upon the myriad of objects which. T h e room is too clean. music o n the walls and the various instruments haphazardly scattered about. thereby giving it the feeling of a pleasant though businesslike place in which to conduct class. . Our claustrophobic triple hour seminar room contained by four perfect walls whose monotony is relieved by crude murals. both at the University of California at Berkeley. The purpose of the problem set was a writing exercise without any instructions other than that the immediate reactions were to be given to whatever was being discussed. in different disciplines and for different purposes. multipurpose appearance. Some exercises were about apples and paintings. but what was also noticeable and contradictory to this musical. Here a selection will be given. Writing was the essence of the problem-not the subject matter. austere.

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

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

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

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

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

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

that is. 1978c. as for urban space. shape. 1977). the use of color. suburbs. The importance of associational aspects continues in our own culture-even if the specific variables involved may have changed. 1980b. but the aesthetic conflict mainly has to d o both with the meaning of style and with the deviation from the norm. 1970). 1969c. and its positive or negative symbolic aspects or meanings (Davis and Roizen. or many other cues (Rapoport. Such cues can consist of any form of differentiation that marks the buildings in question as being in some way distinctive. (3) In U. the associations . when other buildings are whitewashed. At the same time.1978a. and other associational aspects of the environment while accepting the prevailing norms (see Rapoport. houses must not be too different-a modern house in an area of traditional houses is seen as an aesthetic intrusion. and so on). the cues that communicate these varying degrees of importance or sanctity among vernacular designs tend to be rather subtle. decoration (or its absence). Where buildings are colored it may be the absence of color-where they are not. 1976b. although they d o differ from the corresponding highstyle equivalents (Rapoport. it seems clear that later work has greatly strengthened. degree of modernity or degree of archaism. 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. 1981). 1977.30 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT sacred buildings. It is the meaning of the subtle differences within an accepted system that is important in communicating group identity. In the case of vernacular design. and elaborated these arguments about the importance of meaning(see Rapoport. see Figure4). 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. This also applies to excessive uniformity. (4) In evaluating student halls of residence. it may be size. 1973. reinforced. 1968b). 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 use of whitewash. 1981. 1975a. 1979a. and even explains particular perceptual features (see Rapoport. it may be the absence ofwhitewash-where they are not whitewashed. the general image.S. status. 1968b). 1969c. 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.

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Study of Meaning

41

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

42

THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

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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

43

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

44

THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

these latter cases the meaning first became apparent through observation-the locations of the buildings drew attention to something special, and hence important, going on within the context of the landscape in question. This was then checked more methodically; the interpretation of the meaning of these special elements required some cultural knowledge. In this way these examples come closer to the approach being advocated in the body of this book. Simple observation revealed quickly that something was happening. (This could have been checked in the cases of Bali and Positano by observing behavior.) By classification and matching against schemata the code was then read relatively quickly and easily. I have used the symbolic approach in a relatively simple form. One example has already been discussed (Rapoport, 1969e); two more related examples will now be developed in somewhat more detail. In the first (Rapoport, 1970b), it is pointed out that the study of symbolism (I would now say "meaning1')has not played a major role in the environmental design field. When symbols have been considered at all, it was only in one of two ways. First, the discussion was restricted to high-style design and to special buildings within that tradition. Second, the discussion formed part of historical studies, the implication being that in the present context symbols were no longer relevant to the designer. In the case of these special high-style, historical buildings, the importance of symbols has been recognized and well studied; examples are sufficiently well known and some have already been discussed briefly. But this kind of analysis has not been applied to environments more generally. In fact, the discussion is sometimes explicitly restricted to special buildings, specifically excluding "utilitarian" buildings, vernacular buildings, and, in fact, most of the built environment. Yet it is clear, and evidence has already been adduced, that this is not the case: Symbolism (that is, meaning) is central to all environments. The definition of "symbol" presents difficulties. There have been many such definitions, all with a number of things in common (see Rapoport, 1970b: 2-5), although these need not be discussed here. The question that seems of more interest is why, if they are so important, they have received such minimal attention in design, design theory, and environmental design research. Many answers can be given; one is the difficulty in the conscious use of symbols in design and the manipulation of the less self-conscious symbols involved in the creation of vernacular forms. That difficulty stems from a number

The Study of Meaning

45

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

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

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

. Hinde. 1 9 7 2 . 1971. 1978. the basic point that symbols communicate. 1966. 1973)...1968. Davis. Argyle. 1979. 1 9 7 2 . common codes of communication (Schneider. t o concentrate on built environments and their contents. and to try to approach the analysis more simply and more directly. 1972. 1 9 7 7 . Scheflen. 1978).Johnson et al. 1970. If culture is. The concern has been mainly with the subtle ways in which people indicate or signal feeling states and moods. Argyle et a]. f The nonverbal communication approach While this approach will be discussed in considerably more detail in the chapters that follow. a system of symbols and meanings that form important determinants of action and social action as a meaningful activity of human beings. The study of nonverbal behavior has developed greatly in recent years in a number of fields. 1972. Ekman and Friesen. Argyle and Ingham. that they are social. This is. a brief discussion at this point will help in comparing it with the other two approaches. 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. 1 9 6 5 . 1 9 6 9 . some studies of symbolism have made suggestions that I interpret as very close to my argument in this book. 1970. Mehrabian. 1973. 1967.. 1976). Ekman. Eibl-Eibesfeld. 1 9 7 1 . 1975. Weitz. about which we agree. 1972. that is. Interestingly. l 9 7 1 . Hall. Ekman et al. that they are related to status and represent the social order and the individual's place in it. 1979. Kaufman. 1 9 7 6 . 1 9 7 8 . this implies a commonality of understanding. The question then is how we can best decode this process o communication. 1967. 1972. the major thrust of this book. 1974b. My approach will be to accept the task. indeed. 1972. 1957. 1979. 1972. 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. Friedman. 1974. These suggestions are about the need to reduce the arbitrariness of symbolic allocation. 1969b. in fact. or changes in those states . 1973. 1976. 1972. Harper et a]. particularly psychology and anthropology (see Birdwhistell. 1 9 7 4 a .1969a.48 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT get to structural analysis later. While this particular study does not even mention the built environment. 1 9 7 0 . 1 9 7 6 . are all notions that can be studied in other ways-notably through nonverbal communication. Siegman and Feldstein.

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

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

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

Morris et al. The first step is to describe the repertoire. intended receiver.body movement(Davis.proxemics (Hall. It may be useful. If we wish to study meaning in its full. do have a number of general characteristics in common. such an effort. Ekman and Friesen. 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. then. 1979). by definition. natural context. 1975). stressing semantics and pragmatics. gestures (Efron. than a linguistic approach stressing structure and syntactics. kinesics (Birdwhistell. 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. as has been the case in the study of facial expressions (Ekman et al. step is to record repertoires and construct catalogues of behaviors-much as I a m advocating here.52 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Environments and nonverbal communication also lack the clearcut lexicons with indexical relationships to referents that language possesses. and other types of nonverbal cues. These follow from the fact that in any communication process certain elements are essential (see Hymes. we need to begin with the whole. particularly at the beginning. place. and critical. the data themselves. naturally occurring phenomenon. In ethology. But it is frequently forgotten that in linguistics lexicons exist because of the efforts of descriptive linguists over long periods of time. 1 9 4 1 . This is what nonverbal studies have tended to do. 1972.1972). therefore. It is possible that "dictionaries" can be developed. linguistics began with dictionaries. 1970. In any case. 1972).. the intended meaning . nonverbal!! It is thus quite appropriate and significant that in ethology the first. Both conceptually and methodologically. the behavior ethologists study is. 1966). so have ethological studies.3For one thing.. seems potentially both more useful and more direct. different as they seem to be. inform subsequent research. the overlap between ethology and human nonverbal communication studies is very close. Note that all of these three approaches to the study of meaning. the view has been that a priori o n e cannot decide what to record and what to ignore: The important aspects are unknown.

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

.

Only a few pages of a large book deal with this topic. but they were not "ugly" andUbeautiful. 'There were also experimenters present-dressed in certain ways. these environments have some direct eftect on the people in them. and the validity and replicability of the findings (on which there is a sizable literature. is that between what could be called direct and indirect effects. 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. with the effect of laboratory settings on how people perform in psychological tests. since they got me started on this whole topic. In these studies there were still two rooms. But one distinction that seems extremely useful. 1983). grade examination papers.the concern is. The best way to clarify this distinction is through the use of two studies as examples. it is found that human reactions and performance change in response to the effects of the characteristics of the two rooms: that is. In the first (Maslow and Mintz. and demeanor-corresponding to the room that was their . Mintz. 1977).people were asked to perform various tasks-rate photographs of faces along various dimensions. but I found them seminal. and s o on--in a "beautiful" and an "ugly" room. which will come up several times. 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. In the second study (Rosenthal. of certain age."but rather impressive andunimpressive. Disregarding the meaning of these terms. mien. 1966: 98-101.245-249). 1956). 1956. of n o interest to us here).ENVIRONMENTAL MEANING Preliminary Considerations for a Nonverbal Communication Approach In line with the particular approach described in the preface.

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

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

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

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

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

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

consistent.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. 1963):The idea of "setting" becomes much more concrete. the response tends to be more automatic. 1963). forthcoming ). props. Once learned. There is. but an appropriate setting restricts the range of choices (Perinbanayagam. Much of culture consists of habitual. The parallel to environmental design is very striking. "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. and these constraints often are enforced through both formal and informal sanctions. Once the rules operating in a setting are widely known and the cues . some ability to redefine the situation. In a more sociological context a useful suggestion has recently been made along the same lines that well complements Blumer's model. they become expectations and norms and operate semiautomatically. 1968) with that of the role setting (Goffman. 1974: 528)." If we substitute "environment" for "work of art" the parallel is very close. and hence a setting. This is the critical point. and the one on which this interpretation differs from Blumer's. 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. with a fixed canon and lexical (shared) meanings and great persistence over time. 1975b. and the situation itself always presents some choice. 1974. 1974: 524). and the concept of culture shock followed by learning or acculturation parallels that of aesthetic learning. since the range of choices is greatly restricted in traditional cultures. 1973. This is the suggestion that the definition of the situation is most usefully understood in terms of the dramaturgical view (Perinbanayagam. routinized behavior that often is almost automatic. Goffman. always some flexibility. and uniform (Rapoport. see also Britten. This also makes it useful to combine the notion of the behavior setting (Barker. and cues. 1969c. with the contemporary situation.This is useful because this perspective inevitably includes a stage. with highly idiosyncratic and rapidly changing meanings. stressing novelty and in-group meanings. Meanings are not constructed d e novo through interaction in each case. It is also instructive to compare the traditional situation in art. of course. 1976b. Such definitions are greatly constrained by enuironment.

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

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

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

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

work habits. with simultaneous activities. different rules would be learned in these two settings. and in which each child eats when his or her schedule dictates (Douglas. linear use. simultaneity or sequential thinking. a way of classification.Would o n e see in this the conflict between the open plan of the architect and the resistance to it by many users? A related point was made by Rosalie Cohen at an €LIRA 4 workshop (not published in the proceedings). In its most general terms the environment can then be seten as a teaching medium. in effect. 1973a: 55-56). As just one example-. In one case the environment. 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. or enculturation. behavior and rules about ignoring concurrent activities. behaviors. organizations encoded in the physical environments of schools. encodes. If one accepts the view that environments are somehow related to culture and that their codes . lack of classification and nonlinearity. specifically. the likely impact on the cognitive styles of children of open classrooms.Environmental Meaning 67 out suggestively and persuasively by Mary Douglas (1973a). with its label and consecutive. 1973a: 81). in which each child's needs are met individually. She suggested that this would greatly influence the process of categorization of activities. In the other case none of this is demanded or learned-a very different order is learned (Douglas. and s o on to that very extreme posited as hypothetical by Mary Douglas. and so on. each for a specific purpose. linearity versus nonlinearity. it becomes a mnemonic device reminding one of appropriate behavior. that is. as opposed to traditional classrooms-separate settings. The relationship of this to changes in the social order and consensus offers many interesting questions. Once learned. Certain middle-class families and dwellings have taken the elaborated code in terms of individualized routines. will produce a very different child than one in which n9 such hierarchy exists. 1973a: 191) and also expressed through them. and the learning of such rules is an important part of the learning of culture. This referred to the possible effect on the conceptual styles of children of the very different social. the learning of certain systems. In other words. mealtimes. The English working-class dwelling clearly embodies.and we would then expect different enculturation processes and results. and acceptance of social demands. in which e v e y event is structured to express and support the social order.She suggests that spatial layouts that convey a hierarchy of rank and sex. imposes an order.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

but whole landscapes and cities can have that function. contemporary environments. less environmental information. being learned through enculturation (or acculturation in some cases). 1977). and taxonomies that are very important-but these form a different topic (Rapoport." and s o on). 1 have already suggested that in traditional. and this depends on the cues being culturally comprehensible. when. It takes the remembering from the person and places the reminding in the environment.t is intimately related to culture and suggests the idea that environments. it reduces the need for information processing. or cultural conventions. By suggesting similar. and behaviors that would make social communication and interaction impossible--or at least very difficult. must be culture specific. since one does not have to think everything out from scratch. ranges of behavior. and with whom. In effect. this process worked particularly well. forthcoming b). cognitive schemata. responses. . In effect. This mnemonic function of the environment is equivalent to group memoy and consensus. At the same time. whereas in many contemporay environments it works less well (Rapoport. In effect. This coding is also part of the general idea of ordering systems. particularly preliterate and vernacular environments. as in the case of the Cuzco area of pre-Columbian Peru (see Isbell." "family. and limited. How well this process works can be very important indeed. But environments can only do this if they communicate-if the encoded information $:an be decoded (see Figure 11). 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. less cultural information (Madge. since environmental cues and mneponics communicate social information and help make behavior more habitual (Rapoport. information is encoded in the environment and needs to be decoded. 1968) These are linked. provide ever less information to help people make up their mindsless social information ("knowing your place. this process also helps prevent purely idiosyncratic interpretations. one can routinize many behaviors and make them habitualwhich is one of the functions of culture generally.Environmental Meaning 81 where. 1976a. the setting"freezesMcategories and domains. it makes behavior easier. The importance of decoding is also due to the fact that i. 1978). If this process works. physical and social. if they are to work. This is usually considered on small scales.

.

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

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

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

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

will not be reviewed in any detail.semifixedfeature. is best begun by referring to a set of distinctions that apparently are unrelated t o the topic and that were first proposed by Hall (1966). an annotated bibliography o n only some aspects of the subject contained 9 3 1 items (Davis. the use of nonverbal models in studying environmental meaning involves looking directly at various environments and settings and observing the cues present in them. these both provide the context for other behaviors and also occur and are to be understood in contexts. For example. the extensive literature on nonverbal communication. once again. and s o on. affect. some of which is becoming very sophisticated and some of which is also at a high level of abstraction. the particular meanings these cues have for human behavior. This discussion. This can be done easily and directly even without a major consideration of theoretical aspects of nonverbal communication. Basically. In order to keep it simple. by 1 9 7 2 . These comprise fixed-feature. . identifying how they are interpreted by users-that is. nonverbal behaviors have been studied primarily by observation and recording and subsequent analysis and interpretation. which is the reason for using it. and informal (better nonfixed-feature) elements. 1972) and the rate of publication has increased greatly since then. I talie three points of departure: There are nonverbal behaviqrs that are both extremely prevalent and extremely important.NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL MEANING I take the nonverbal communication approach to environmental meaning to be something conceptually rather simple.

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

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

If the "furnishings" were removed. with painted floors and wall plaster and decorative elements. behaviors. never before seen. the buildings would. the use of porches consisting of roof and posts. one could distinguish between front doors (decorated) and interior doors ("modest"). in Hidalgo. 1964. but also reemphasizes the importance of context. in Catal Hiiyiik. Thus it appears that semifixed environmental elements are of particular importance in studying meaning in our current environment. What is different are (1)the contents (sacred objects of various kinds). status indications are reinforced by the width of entrances. Mexico. Todd. and even decorations. For example. although some inferences can be made. 1976. as the dwellings. and with . the distinction between residential rooms and shrines or ritual chambers is indicated primarily (although not exclusively) through semifixed elements of various sorts-that is. in effect. Rapoport. and so on. when Pizarro first reached South America." The use of fixed-feature and semifixed-feature elements to make inferences about behavior (that is. revert back to dwellings. Note that this was in a very different. one of the earliest urban settlements. and people to the setting that have meaning and can be "read. At the same time. he "knew" temples even though they were the same height and size. which are identical to dwellings in plan. although we have seen that this presents problems. construction. of townhouses as opposed to high-rise apartments.90 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT forms of housing. in the case of ancient Tollan. (3)the activities that occur within. they would convert back to "ordinary" rooms and dwellings (Mellaart. This was because they were covered in jewels and gold. 1969). these elements have been used to establish meaning from earliest times. they are "furnished" differently and more lavishly than dwellings. about nonfixed-feature elements) is the rule in archaeology. Decorative facings were used differentially and seem to indicate status. An even more striking example is provided by the Ashanti Fetish houses in Africa. and of the same materials. of ownership as opposed to renting. and (4)the occupants (Swithebank. 1979a). It is the relationships of these objects. culture! Once these decorations were removed. Thus. Also. 1967.This stresses the importance of semifixed and nonfixed elements. it is particularly difficult to read fixed-feature elements alone in terms of their meaning. Yet archaeology does provide a most useful paradigm since meaning must be derived from artifacts alone in making inferences about behavior. (2) the uses of space.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nonverbal Communication and Environmental Meaning

97

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:
b

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-

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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-

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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-

118

THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

ments (Kamau, 1976) and Mexico, where a knowledge of ancient Aztec organization can help in reading the meaning of the organization of a contemporary small town such as Tlayacapan (Ingham, 1971).Thus knowing the underlying schemata, having internal contexts, helps in reading the meanings. I have been discussing the fact that although context and cultural knowledge are important, many of these cues seem to be almost selfevident, although from the distant past and from very different cultures. This suggests the need briefly to consider again the suggestion made above that there may be regularities in the means available that may be likely, "natural," and almost inevitable. This may be interpeted in terms of the notion of evolutionary bases for behavior. One suggestion is that among more or less widely shared associations, there may be archetypal associations-that is, certain common responses to certain stimuli, or archetypes defined as the most likely schemata (see McCully, 1971).Another approach is that, due to evolution in particularconditions, the human species exhibits constancies in behavior, needs, and the ways things tend to be done, s o that there are limits to the range of possible ways of doing things (Rapoport, 1975b; Hamburg, 1975; Tiger and Shepher, 1975; Tiger, 1969; Tiger and Fox, 1971; Fox, 1970; Boyden, 1974; Rossi, 1977). It may also well be that not only is the repertoire or palette limited, but the rules of combination may be similarly limited. Here again, there may eventually be an area of overlap between the study of environmental meaning in terms of nonverbal cues and more formal structuralist, semiotic, symbolic, linguistic, and cognitive anthropology models. Note that many of these are based on the notion of oppositions-that is, contrasts-so that many theorists in the area argue that symbols occur in sets and that the meaning of particular symbols is to be found in the contrast with other symbols rather than in the symbol as such, s o that individual symbols have layers of meaning that depend upon what is being contrasted with what (see Leach, 1976). This notion of contrast or opposition seems basic to discrimination or meaning, and forms part of the context that I have been stressing. One of these common processes discussed above was the tendency of the human mind to classify the world into domains such as nature/ culture, us/them, menlwomen, private/public, frontlback, sacred/ profane, goodlbad, and so on; built environments often give physical expression t o these domains (Rapoport, 1 9 7 6 ~ ) . Note that recently the strict binary nature of such oppositions has been modified by the

Nonverbal Communication and Envlronrnental Meaning

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

.

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

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. ." As pointed out in Chapter 2.122 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 2.

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

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

Small-Scale Examples of Applications 125 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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of these cases.136 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT ethnopsychiatric situations.S. 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. the British House of Commons. Note that in many. . and the U. Senate proves most instructive in the way meaning is communicated by the location of seating as expressing political philosophies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are interesting because they have become major indicators of urban meaning yet are relatively new. and I will turn to those after commenting on graffiti. as signs of appropriation and as "territorial markers" (Ley andcybriwsky. particularly since different interpretations are possible (as we shall see later).152 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT of communication among people) between millvillages and new suburbs (Glass. A v e y high correlation can be predicted between graffiti and negative judgments about a large set of urban characteristics. maintenance levels generally. crime levels. They w o ~ ~ use ld graffiti to judge environmental quality and hence desirability of areas. and so on. Since differing interpretations of graffiti are possible-for example. in fact. lawns. 1979: 340-341). empty lots. alienation. redundancy usually reinforces these judgments. urban poverty. boardedup buildings. absence of trees. and racial minorities-all the "stereotypic components of the uncivilized world" (Rubin. 1978: 148): mill villages new suburbs scruffy dingy parched no cars (or old cars) [unpaved streets] tall houses colors serniforest of cool green foliage wide lawns trim hedges spacious. These are all used to judge the nature of areas . 1974). urban areas. grilles on shops. winding avenues many (and new) cars [paved streets] Urban cues Many such cues are still used in U. mixed uses. quickly and easily make such inferences from these urban cues: It is clearly a majority view. This involves additional cues.S. and many other noticeable differences. What seems important here is that many people would. 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. lawlessness. and hence safety. the nature of resident groups. cleanliness and litter. houses. I am not concerned with the specific study. pollution levels. They thus show that new types of semifixed-feature cues can develop and acquire meaning relatively quickly and easily. such as location.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

160 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT .

Urban Examples of Applications 161 NEW L Ct U ~ e e u 5 L ~ T Y i i ~ ~ ~ ~MILUAU%% r i i r . CAM[L" c' pkgdd~~w) Qw - Figure 27 Continued .

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

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

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. apartments.g. and the like).. sensory stimuli that indicate the presence of people. 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. tall buildings. . would be read v e y differently (e. or isolates them. courtyards.164 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Dense many people (or their traces) visible mostly human-made (little greenery) high noise levels many human-made smells many cars-high traffic density and much parking Not Dense few people (ox their traces) visible mostly natural (much greeney) low noise levels few human-made smells few cars-low traffic density and little parking Generally the number of physical. the presence of fences. the same number of people in an environmental configuration that exposes them to others. then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The who does what with whom is the organization of com- . 1972). the number of events per unit time and the distribution of activities in time (day and night. when. and other rites (see One example of this is provided by Scotland. Thus people may be separated in time as well as. or instead of. and s o on).180 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT being accurate within one second a year. although while they are happening they need and use settings and other physical elements. highland games an "arena". festivals. in this case the Swiss. lowland Scots of the southwest use the church. recurrent ceremonial assemblies based on pilgrimages are used to organize the links between urban centers and hinterlands. a week was the smallest relevant time unit (Ortiz. Groups with different tempos may never communicate. This applies to pilgrimages and other ritual movements. while in the Borders area of lowland Scotland the town is the significant setting (Neville. carnivals. Tempos and rhythms distinguish among groups and individuals who have different temporal "signatures" and they may also be congruent or incongruent with each other. respectively. as when one group. Thus the meaning of these elements depends on the temporal use they receive-the periodic gatherings. 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. including or excluding whom. 1981). Note also that many behaviors (nonfixed-feature elements) that are used to establish boundaries. and another group (in this case Southern Italians) regard it as a time for noise and boisterous activity (Rapoport. although clearly spatial and temporal aspects interact and influence one another: People live in space-time. temporal. sacred and profane times.Cultural conflicts and problems may often be more severe at the temporal level than at the spatial. that is. and where-they are the w h e n and where. regards a particular time as quiet and for sleep. in effect. 1979). whereas in traditional Pueblo culture. Groups with different rhythms may also be in conflict. and so on. are. periodic. assert or define identity. however. space and groups with different rhythms occupying the same space may never meet. weekday and rest day. seasonal. these also need settings. 1977). The highland clan gatherings use ancestral castles. 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. where Rapoport. At the same time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This then indicates the relation of individuals to the group. in Wadi Firan in the Sinai).JCe ( y h n l l Z * q d T ~ / &~~?oPo~T Figure 29 standing of larger-scale communication patterns. tombs of sheikhs or saints are often used to establish ownership of land (as is found. less durable materials are used. Among Bedouin also. for example. This role of tombs is. among the Bedouin. 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. For example.190 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT I W O U Lhh(9 OUT ~~ pb ~ N L SJEC~~. . In other cases.

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

Among the Mayo Indians of Sonora. One could even predict that in time. core element." s o that "to be a Maori means to have a home Marae" (Austin. are the house crosses that identify Mayo dwellings (as well as other crosses that mark boundaries and important sites or settings). 1977). categories. 1976). and more details.192 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT called defensive structuring (Siegel. many traditional cultural elements have become condensed or concentrated in a space. Consider two examples among the many available (for others. ritual meals. and dining halls. the Marae. and others. a number of elements are also used to define the ethnic identity of the group: the settlement pattern. see Rapoport.One of the characteristics of this particular response is the greaterreliance on particular environmental cues that indicate identity and thus help channel communication processes. 1970). in this way. the Marae seems to be the single most important. if no impediments are placed in their way by government policy. that is. Maori would tend increasingly to concentrate in specific urban neighborhoods. cemeteries. which are used for periodic ritual movement. Among the Maori in New Zealand. It . 1976: 238-239). The key elements. While these and many other semifixedand nonfixed-feature elements will all help to express and maintain ethnic identity. the importance of which has been little noticed by whites precisely because it is a space rather than a building or object. and elements of the culture. they locate people in social space and. leading to the development of specific institutions and other forms. with their accompanying gateways. It also provides the appropriate setting for a range of critically important behaviors. Increasingly. In effect. a "remnant microcosm of traditional culture" (Austin. It is a spatial-symbolic realm. It should be stressed that it plays a role in structuring interaction and communication in two domains-among Maori and between Maori and nowMaori. however. churches. meeting houses. among them rituals. Mexico. clearly influence the extent and forms of communication at the highest level of generality of group members versus non-group members. a spatial expression of an important set of cognitive domains. in urban areas where they can become indicators of Maori identity and focal points. 1964. are the strongest indicators and definers of ethnic identity among that group (Crumrine. The Marae are seen as "symbols of Maoritanga (Maoriness).""of being a Maori. 1981). Maori are calling for the provision of Marae. These crosses and the sacred paths linking them. us versus them. and meetings among various 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. In this study. O n e can further argue that (a) even the first point leads to higher probabilities of chance encounters. that is. Meaning.all of them relate to my argument. house. associational and perceptual characteristics of the area. that is. garden. street. culture both prevents (or limits) and encourages communication -the former among groups. the most important way of locating people in social space is through where they live: their neighborhood. I will thus conclude this argument with an example from Canada discussed in some detail. It will be noted that after discussing the role of public spaces (which are stressed by Lofland. in fact. the second within groups. and (b) several of the others depend o n the particular form of housing and its spatial organization. counterintuitively. One can argue that. we are dealing with a direct effect of the space organization on organization of communication. and other elements all communicate and locate people in social space. What I wish to d o is to accept the finding. interaction was h ~ g h e in houses. in terms of pnvacy defined as the control of unwanted interaction (see Rapoport. interaction (that is.I returned to examples of residential settings (although as part of the house-settlement system). 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 this is a primary function of culture generally Through this distinction.Environment. 1974). Five sets of reasons are given for the higher levels of interaction and communication in detached dwellings. This is because it seems that in cities. address. The other points all represent more lndirect effects and can be understood in terms of the distinction between wanted and unwanted interaction. . At this point. and Communication 193 has been argued. I d o not wish to discuss the validity of r this finding or the support it might receive from other studies. communication) was compared in detached houses and apartment buildings (Reed. with the exception of point 1.The finding was that. 1973). and compare the reasons given to the argument of this monograph.

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

of course. Meaning. which then influence interaction. Generally. communication-which is. . four of these five points (and many are related to the first) are due to meanings being communicated. that is.Environment. and thus greater unpredictability. 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. the definition of slums) is frequently related to frontlback reversals. 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. mainly by semifixed and nonfixed elements. where we came in. (5) The high rate of mobility in apartments means not only greater uncertainty about who people are. and Communication 195 we are generally discussing front rather than back behavior. then.

.

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

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

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

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

Using the distinction (p. 38) between syntactics. 1975.220 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT to method-driven studies of meaning (e. 1989). Context is critical. and as I argue throughout this book. and pragmatics. Nasar. Following the brief mention of method-driven approaches. the second change reconsiders the evaluation of symbolic approaches presented on pages 43-48 of this book.g. Further consideration of the latter two. Given that.' still seem valid as written. Moreover. 1988). one can argue that the "eclectic" approach and NVC essentially address pragmatics (and possibly some semantics). In the text I refer to examples (e. led me to a rather significant revision (Rapoport. channel. share: sender. The description and criticism of semiotics. Krampen. Because they are eclectic and fairly straightforward in approach. and context. and the linguistic approach from which it derives. for example. 1979. 5 2 above) can be reduced to a minimal set that all sound approaches to meaning. may communicate several distinct types of meaning. Hucek. and Buchan.g. 1983. which was originally presented at a semiotics confer- . Lindsey. Lee. The first proposes that the term "meaning" is too global. the meaning of elements depends on contexts (both cultural and of other elements) and contrasts and noticeable differences among elements. It follows that built environments. and the like). 1985). I identify and discuss the three approaches mentioned above: semiotic/linguistic.. and nonverbal communication. Two things are involved. and that this not only does not weaken the argument or findings but in fact strengthens them.. This also applies. 1979) and suggest that in them references to semiotics can be eliminated. First. and that semiotics largely deals only with syntactics. 1982. Bonta. symbolic. receiver. Almost everyone uses it-or claims to-pays lip service to it. stimulated by some questions raised by a student. the Hymes (1964) model of communication (p. and material culture generally. even though they never use or even refer to it (e.g. Of course. personal constructs. however identified. semantics. and puts even nonsemiotic work in a semiotic framework or "decorates" the work with references to semiotics. to one study among others that 1 discuss below (Duncan. both NVC and symbolic approaches address structure. 35-36).. 1988. one needs t o distinguish among types or levels of meaning. that symbolic approaches essentially deal with semantics. which have no strong conceptual or theoretical bases (pp. and it has become almost synonymous with the study of meaning in the built environment. these can be "claimed" by the nonverbal communication (NVC) approach. the use of semantic differentials. semiotics is even more dominant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

it can also. Robinson et al. although using the concept of "symbols" ("symbolic aesthetics") and a semiotic approach (Lang. 14-18). 1988). This is clearly the case in a study of the residential aspects of the normalization of mentally retarded people (Robinson et al. This is much the case with Lucien Kroll's work at Perseigne d'Alenqon in . of course. In this case one finds a complete reversal in the interpretation of the look of the project." "claustrophobic. be extended from "architecture" to semifixed elements and material culture generally and hence to the cultural landscape. 1984. see Robinson et al." "concentration camp. " Many of the more specific comments are clearly congruent with my discussion and illustrations in the book (e. More generally. pp. a problem housing estate in London (Hunt Thompson Associates. 1984). Attributes with negative meanings are associated with the negative image of institutionality. " and "mental institution.. that is. The centrality of the meaning of architectural and other environmental elements usually considered in aesthetic rather than associational terms. also emphasize the importance of redundancy for settings to communicate appropriate meanings...232 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT municate such meanings to users. and the consequent differences between designers and users.g. and similar points made. of course. become very clear in a study of Maiden Lane. many seem clearly meant to change those qualities of the project that communicate negative meanings (including the institutional character discussed above. it is significant that recommended changes in housing projects often seem to involve changing those elements that have negative meanings to elements that have positive meanings. This is much as suggested in this book (on the basis of Davis and Roizen's 1970 study)." "closed in. 1984). Among the changes recommended. they have to do with meaning." The feel of the project also elicits negative f emotional terms from 53 percent o the residents: "depressing. 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. This is.. an aspect of my distinction between perceptual and associational aspects: this distinction has been used by others. Among them are "prison. The various architectural elements and whether they are liked or work are to be understood in terms of their meanings. 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"). " "battery farm. 1982).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DC EDRA ---(1989) "Symbohc meanings of house styles " Environment and Behavior 21 (3) 235-257 Nasar. A Chen. In and G Francescato (eds ) Knowledge for Deslgn EDRA 1 3 Wash~ngton. I (1971) "Hlstory of science and ~ t rat~onal s reconstructton. J 1 (1983) "Adult vlewers' preferences in rc*sldent~al ." pp 310-317 In P Bart. Exercises and Commentary Carbondale and Edwardsvtlle Southern Ill~nors Unlversity Press Kendon. A [ed ] (1981) Nonverbal Communication. CA Sage porary German Soc~al of Katz. lnteractlon and Gestures Selec tions of Semiotlca New York Mouton Study of the Use of Kent. J (1982) "Symbolic aesthet~cs architecture." pp 172-182 In P Bart. S (1984) Analyzing Actlvrty Areas An Ethnoarchaeolog~cal Space Albuquerque Unlverstty of New Mextco Press ---(1987) "Understanding the use of space an ethnoarchaeologlcal perspect~ve. and J Kang (1989)"Symbolic meanings of building style m small suburban . scenes a study of the relatlonshtp of attributes to preference " Envrronment and Behavlor 15 (5) 589 614 ---(1988) "Architectural symbolism a study of house-style meanings.(1983) The Rock Art of Southern Africa Cambridge Cambridge Unlvers~ty Press Mandler. A Chen. Scrlpts and Scenes Aspects of Schema Theory Hlllsdale NJ Erlbaum Maya Lowlands Washington.Epilogue 245 Hunt Thompson Assoclates (1988) Matden Lane Feaslk)ll~ty Study for the London Borough of Camden London Hunt Thompson Assoclates Isbcll. J (1976) Emblem and State in the Class~c Dumbarton Oaks Mlnsky. and V T Katz (1983) Foundat~ons Nonverbal Commun~catlon Read mgs. 10th IAPS Conference. A M . L -S (1982) "The Image of clty hall. 4 Pans des vol Jackson. J D (1981) Believing and Seeing Symbol~c Meanings In Southern San Rock Patntings London Academic Press . L (1988) "Behavlor settings." pp 211-277 In P H Wtnston (ed ) The Psychology of Computer Vis~onNew York McGraw-H111 Nasar." pp 163171 In D Lawrence et a1 (eds ) Paths to Co ex~stenceEDRA 1 9 Washlngton. I~ngwstic the Symposium on Ecological Psychology. In vol 8 Dordrecht Retdel L ang. The Netherlands." pp 1-60 In S Kent (ed ) Method and Theory for Activlty Area Research An Ethnoarchaeological Approach New York Columbla Unlversity Press frames " Presented at Kruse.G (1987) "Cogn~tlvebases of situation processing and behav~orsetting partlcipatlon." pp 91-136 In R D Buck and R S Cohen (eds ) Boston Stud~es the Philosophy of Sc~ence. J B (1984) Dlscoverlng the Vernacular Landsrape New Haven. M (1975) "A framework for representing knowledge. " pp 267-297 In Actes du 42 Congres lnternat~onal Amer~canistes. L .. DC EDRA for I-ewts-Willtams.. and G Francescato (eds ) K ~ n w l ~ d g e Des~an EDRA 1 3 Washlngton. J. cognltlve scripts. DC Marcus. J M (1984) Stories. W H (1978) "Cosmolog~cal order expressed in prehistoric ceremonial centers. July (mlmeo) Lakatos. Delft. CT Yale Un~versityPress Kamtnsk~." pp 218-240 in G R Semen] and B Krah&(eds ) Issues In ContemPsychology Beverly Hllls.DC EDRA Lee.

A. (1988) The Psychology of Everyday Things.(1989) "Environmental quality and environmental quality profiles. Lanham. 8 of Human Behavior and Environment. Werner (eds. Bordreuil (1980) Le Nbo-Style Regional: Reproduction d'une Architecture Pavillonnaire. Oxford: Clarendon Press. S. Judd." Presented at the 20th EDRA Conference. 1 (1980) Ritual Space in India. A. no. Norman. Toronto: C. C. J.) Dwellings. Ph. M.F.) Domestic Architecture and Useof Space. New York: Plenum. (to appear in proceedings) ---(in press a ) History and Precedent in Environmental Design. University of Pennsylvania. Berlin: d e Gruyter. Hogrefe. Poyatos (ed. --. ---(in press e ) "On regions and regionalism. Paris: Dunod. --. 17." in N. [ed. D. " pp. Sturm (eds. Psychological and Physical Conditions..) On Vernacular Architecture. Rapoport.A . Dean. 159-175 in D." pp." pp. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. ---(1988)"Levels of meaning in the built environment. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ---led. culture change and supportive design. P. Ostrowetsky. supplement 9 5 (October): 3. 255-286 in I. AARP. E. G. 157-175 in D. Bourdier (eds. Kent (ed. Pavlides." pp. New York: Pergamon Press. Berkeley. Altman and C. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (1987)The Architecture of Ideology: Neo-Confucian Imprinting on Cheju Island." Habitat International 7 (516): 249-268. diss.) Housing Issues I: Design for Diversification. 26.30-36 in B. and D. (1983) New Perspectives in Nonverbal Communication. S. MD: University Press of America. J .] (1988) Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Nonverbal Communication. April. (1985) Vernacular Architecture and Its Social Context: A Case Study from Eressos. (1972) Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. NC. A. R.(in press b) "Defining vernacular design. Brown (eds." in S.246 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT offices. ---(1986b) "Culture and built form-a reconsideration. 317-336 in F." Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects. ---(1985b) "On diversity" and "Designing for diversity. Turan (ed. Korea. Greece. July. Canberra: Royal Australian Institute of Architects.) Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Nonverbal Communication. Alsayyad and J. J . Black Mountain. Settlements and Tradition. D. Markovich. Aldershot: Gower. K. Saile (ed. Hogrefe. ) The Quality of Urban Life: Social. University of California.) Home Environments. Popper. Practice (1988) "Planning. Toronto: C. (mimeo) Nemeth. New York: Basic Books. ---(in press c) "Systems of activities and systems of settings. (1983) "Development. --. ---(1985a) "Thinking about home environments: a conceptual framework. J. and J .) Architecture in Cultural Change: Essays in Built Form and Culture Research. F.(in press dl "On the attributes of 'tradition. J. (1986a) "The use and design of open spaces in urban neighborhoods. W. University of Newcastle upon Tyne (Great Britain).D. London. Preiser. Frick ( e d . New York: Plenum." Presented at the seminar Quality in the Built Environment." in M. .) Pueblo Style and Regional Architecture. vol. Pieper. 5-8. Poyatos.'" in N....E. Publications in Geography. and F." pp.

and P Ekman [eds ] (1982) Handbook of Methods In Nonverbal Behavror Research Cambrrdge Cambrtdge Unrversity Press Suchar. K R . and R B Bechtel(1985) "Pereerved urban resrdent~al quallty a cross-cultural blmodal study " Envlronment and Behav~or1 7 (3) 327 350 . Applications. vol 1 New York W~ley Sadalla. plans and knowledge. D P (1986) "Ne~ghborhoodconf~dence a cr~trcalfactor In nerghborhood revrtallzatlon " Envlronment and Behavror 18 (4) 480-501 Vargus. CA Sage Wobst." 35 (pts 3-4) Revue de I'habltat social (1981) "Alen~on I'rmpossrble rehabllitatron de Persergne " No 6 3 (May) 32-47 Rldgeway. and R P Abelson (1977) Scr~pts. 1989 specla1 rssue on 'Literature and Humanistic Geography. NJ Erlbaum -. C S Law. Goals and Understandrng An lnqurry Into Human Knowledge Structures Hlllsdale. et a1 (1987)"ldent~ty symbolrsm In hous~ng "Environment and Behavlor 1 9 (5) 569-587 Schank. A [ed ] (1984)Nonverbal Behavior Perspectrves. P (1988) Cornputattonal Ph~losophy Science Cambridge. M F (1986) Louder than Words An lntroductlon to Nonverbal Communicatlon Ames Iowa State Unlversrty Press V~nntcombe. J W . Aprll (mlmeo) Thagard. C S . no 61 Wolfgang. H M (1977) "Stylrst~cbehavror and information exchange. C L . Intercultural Insights Lewiston. J Berger. Tampa. E J . MA MIT Press1 of Bradford Books Varady. and R P Harrison [eds ] (1983)Nonverbal Interaction Beverly Hllls. Vanuatu " American Anthropolog~st 7 56-87 8 Russell." pp 245-280 in D Stokols and 1 Altman (eds ) Handbook of Environmental Psychology. 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. and R Rotenberg (1988) "Judglng the adequacy of shelter a case from Lrncoln Park ' Presented at the meetlng of the Soclety for Applied Anthropology. J A . Museum of Anthropology. E H ." 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." pp 317-342 tn C E Cleland (ed ) For the Director Research Essays In Honor of James B Grlffrn Unlversity of Michigan. Plans. D (1969) "The Image of San Cr~stobal" Monadnock 4 3 29-45 Zube.Epilogue 247 ---(in press f ) "indirect approaches to environment-behavior research " Natlonal Geographrcal Journal of Indta. et dl (1984) Towards an Arch~tectural Destgn Prtnc~plesfor Housrng Severely and Profoundly Retarded Adults Mlnneapolls Unlvers~tyof Mrnnesota (September) Rodman. and J Snodgrass (1987) "Emotion and the environment.-(1979) "Scripts. Vanuatu " Ethnology 2 4 (4) 269-279 (1985b) "Moving houses res~dentralmobility and the mobllrty of residences rn Longana. FL. J M . J Vlnlng. NY Hogrefe Wood. 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. M C (1985a) "Contemporary custom redefining domestic space In Lon gana. Anthropolog~cal Papers. R C .

.

64. 80. 128. 143. 20.27. 25. 114. 141. 155 Cambodia. 186 Berber. 57. 127. 92. decoding. 72. 150-151 Church. 116. 37. 90. 117 Catal Huynk. 47. 65. 133. 180. 73. 46. 27. 27 Chain operations. see also Front Bali. 30. 43-44.60. 43. 15. 52. 27. 65. 64. 45. 195. 148. 47. 63. 56. 88. 177-195 . 111. 15.INDEX NOTE. 56. 35. 118. 137. 57. 142. 124. 16. 30. 142. 30. 47. 124. 98. 96. 19.85-86 Rororo. 97-98. 16. 5 1. 25. 52. 147. 105.43. 43. 9. 79. 170. 9 4 Affect. 77. see Urban Clothing. 26. 130. 27. 89. 87. 86. 80. 35 Africa. 119.96. 152. 86. 14. 36. 180. 185. 40. 9 0 Cathedral. 87. 21. 188-189. 104. 60. 111. 173. 43 Bedouin. 43 Britain. 174. 70-72. 58.132. Australian. 24. 141. encoding. 74. 127. 181. 15. 16. 117. 92. 84. 116. 140. 40. 82. 104. 77. 50. 145. 26. 175 Cities.95. 137. 22. 59.The following index IS reproduced from the original e d ~ t ~ o It . 70. 56. 56.61. 27. 91. 75.126. 93. 27. 75. 19. 13. 179. 173. 162. 174-175. 190-191 Behavior. 191 Communication. 115. 164. 115. 139. 198 Architect. 49. 43. 140. 48. 140 Affordance. 114.64. 186 Ainu. 90. 117.94. 82. 19 Anthropology. 43 Bicultural~sm. 43 Amsterdam. 63. 197 Atoni. 187 Build~ngs. 118. 75. 147. 99. 146. 85. 124. 162.62. 26. 95. 137. 75. 184 Back. 67.). 91-92. 14. 125. 187 China. 55. 43.covers subjects n only and includes neither names found in the text nor references to the new epilogue Aborigines. 43 Code (includes coding. 154. 81. 24. 90. 15. 147. 128-129. 111 116. 118 Archaeology. 20. 118 Color.9. 139 Associational. 67. 47. 45-46. 82.9. 148 Aesthetics. 48. 94. 177 Cognition. 78. 14. 96. 19. etc. 158-159. 107. 23.149.

111. 182. 76. 115. 107. 137. 59. 82. 159. 60. 34. 171. 11. 102. 94. 32 Geography. 181. 131. 170. 30. 117. 155. 108. 166. 23. 140 Greece. 22. 132. 162. 24. 133. perceived. 43 Domain. 53. 193-195 House-settlement system. 77. 124. 5 6 . 185. 147153. 99. 88. 158. 193. 44. 136. 15. 104. 26. 5 1 . 198 Ethology. 131132.141. 188. 5 2 . 94. 51. 144. 172. 77. 104. 52. 82. 111.114. 15. 162167. 100. 133-134. 58. 126.62. direct effects of. 9. 16. 68. 121. 169. 4 1 . 35. 144. 119. 96. 181 France.189 Fixed-feature elements. 16. 156. 22. 170. 107. 128-129. 89. 180. 15. 21-22. 1 1 1. 95. 143. 116. 101. 74. 112. 172. 183-185. 193 House (includes housing). 140. 159 Cues. 94. 55-56 Environmental design. 195. 142. 137. 50. 26-27. 26. 69. 144. 145. 30. 19. 139. 141. 29. 184. 192. 21-23. 105. 76 Environment.250 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 59. 164. 65. 152. 93. 193 Complexity. 59. 84. 131. 47. 139. 139. 119. 35. 102. 158 Fences. . 65-70. 117. 172 Designers. 64. 178 Culture core. 126. 65. 9. 21. 77. 22. 137. 89. 15. 132. 172. 1 13 Evolution. 156. 127. 53. 71. 17 1-172 Cross-cultural. 101. 49. indirect effects of. 90. 27. 24. 9. 152. 32. 102. 70. 47. 191 Cultural un~versals. 132-133. 32. 9. 62. 97. 171. 107. 123. 51. 115. 87-90. 19. 159. 43. 22. 163-168. 14. 40. 106. 26. 142. 158. 23. 21. 57. 182 Courtrooms. 142. 127. 118. 9. 157. 181 High style. 55-56. 137.106.95. 74. 73. 57. 128. 101. 112. 9.117. 106-107. 36. 1 1-13. 24. 124-125 Crime. 124. 156. 99. 127. 150. 63. 167. 152. 137-141. 115 Front. 34.118. 138. 198 Homogeneity. 191 Cultural landscape. 88 Decoration. 145. 9. 129-130. 52. 89. 113. 157.111. 140. 102. 61. 67. see House Enculturation. 23. 188. 162 Dogon. 170. 62 Environmental quality. 124. 59. 170. 75. 56. 115. 79. 48. 147. 132. 145. 24. 26. 119. 76. 76. 187. 179 Cultural specificity. 34. 198 Group identity. 26. 118. 174. 16. 15. 39. 173. 35. 32.40. 30. 137. 19. 45. 97. 27. 46. 115. 130. 163. 156. 157. 4 4 . 172. 159. 177-183. 139. 63. 72. 184 Content analysis. 22. see also Back Furnishings. 47. 198 Crowding. 134. 92. 15. medieval. 157. 170. 142-143. 141. 89. 44. 75. 189. 4 9 . 4 0 . 141. 20. 43. 40. 91. 38. 193 Generalization. 192 Dwelling. 4 3 . 192 Density. 107.61. 145. 188189. 56. 56.60. 23.91.112 Culture. 85. 163 Density. 66.67. 134. 112-114.52. 130. 60. 22. 19. 117 Group. 116 Europe. 170. 117. 128. 26. 95. 26. 167-169. 25. 42. 170. 140. 81. 27. 147. 157. 162. 118 Fang. 98. 99. 130. 129. 64. 46. 172. 19. 39. 45. 67. 187. 26. 58. 44. 23. 61. 167. 15. 86.124. 170. 173. 56. 156-157.10. 27. 30. 106. 154 C o n t e x t . 186 Defensive structuring. 132. 26. 171. 66. 70-71. 56. 56. 92. 181 Garden. 126. 36. 76.92. 189. 156-157. 106. 173. 132. 147. 153. 64. 15.

88. 24. 178. 137. 169 Information. 45. 107. 49. 169 New Guinea. 118. 194 Isphahan. 21. 23. 139. 145 Perception (includes perceptual). 107. 2 2 Pantheon. 29. 28. 30. 198 Manifest. 142. 112. 115. 28. 134. 159. 75. 19. 66. 47. 116. 95 Meaning. 121. 170 Nubia. 32. 189. 94. 189-190 Maya. 145 Lawn. organization of. 24. 114. 15. 197 . 8. 45. 68. 156. 153. 24. 12 1. 127-128. 157 Landscaping. 36. 173. 27. 82. 194. 115 Lifestyle. 40. 56. 140 Milwaukee. 72. 142. 156-157. 91. 27. 120. 131. 111. 16. 53. 69. 36. 134. 155. 194 Man-environment studies. 52. 96. 116. 11. 123. 126. 169. 155. 48-53. 174. 142. 51. 110-121. 144145. 28.123. 19. 50. 145. 117. 34. 40. 87-121 . 171. 176. 52. 192 Middle East. 159. 29. 36. 183. 63. 84. 66. 26. 77. 86. 126. 77.S. 132. 51. 11. 133. 72. 188. 88. 185. 80. 114 Neighborhood. 134.136. 15. 181 Latent. 114. 139. 149 Mosque. 121 Location. 43. 128-129 Navaho. 97. 93. 167. 134. 82. 30.177. 80-81. 121. 46. 173 Lexicon. 112. 181. 184 Nonverbal communication. see also Manifest Latin America. 129. 115. 49. 197 Model. 11. 57. 179 India. 129. 116. 162-163. 141. 162. 173. 45. 45 Ornament.139. 198 Nonvisual senses. 181-183. 11 1. 33. 162. 162168. 187. 30. 99. 107. 56. 164. 126-127. see also Latent Maori. 104.Index 251 Ideal. 102. 158. 92. 25. 76. 152. 90. 152. 173. 132. 75. 139. 184. 35. 102. 117 Italy. 129. 192 Marrakesh. 191 Open-endedness. 145. 69. 37. 27. 141. 9. 141-142. 108. 185. 73. 26. 188. 37. 138. 22. 51. 61. 87. 137. 131. 198 Mexico. 26. 15. 19. 14. 144. 172. 129. 55. 26. 126. 21. 87. 174-175. 74. 172. 183. 71. 127. 118. 97. 43 Parks. 95. 156. 186 Inference. 144. 117. 43. 169 Pattern. 115. 16. 89. 129-130. 119. 119. 77. 72. 74. environmental. 129. 144. 9. 87. 198 Moslem clty. 90. 76. 173. 155. 140. 153. 153. 175 North West Coast (U. 171. 140. 167 Mnemonic function of environment. 43. 179. study of. 32. 186 Nonfixed-feature elements. 132. 119. 27. 126. 115 Noticeable difference. 22. 167. 198 Linguistics (includes language). importance of. 47. 35. 80. 96101. 96. 170. 106. 108. 23. 101. 139. 168. 23. 69. 1 1. see Decoration Overdesign. 184. 112. 141 Landscape. 139. 27. 105. 127. 134. 27. 73. 126. 34. 73. 49. 188 Meals. 150. 142. 26. 9 1 Materials. 99. 155156. 52. 37. 114. 123-124. 98. 152. 177. 100. 70. 144. 40.). 84. 16. 157. 38. 67. 139. 108. 63. 46. 163.137. 47. 127. 150. 121. 43. 50. 117. 192. 186. 128. 143. 35-53 Methodology. 14. 191. 169. 170. 36. 174. 129. 91. 91. 76. 134. 89. 55-86. 105. 26. 66. 179 Identity. 67. 173 Image. 119. 184. 98. 49. 114. 9. 99. 127. 114-116. 26-34. 84. 163-164. 92. 193 Neutral place.170. 34. 27.

171 Semantic differential. 5 1. 36. 114 Quebec. 4 0 . 191 Thailand. 191. 27. 78. 177 Preliterate. 75. 116. 91. 150 Private. 139. 92. 93-94.252 THE MEANING OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Personalization. 36. 75 Taxonomy. 14. 77. 107. 175-176. 118. 144-145. 118. 80. 71. 116-117. 170. 184. 14. 136. 88. 142 Phenomenology. 99. 153. 5 1. 121. 142. 140. 133 Signal detection theory. 33. 139. 141. 61. 84. 30. 116. 107. 119.84-85. 9. 38. 67. 158 Popular design. 80 Syntactics.41. 50. 154. 118. 45-46 Pragmatics. 56. 141. 159.25. 43. 178. 194 Street. 56. 28. 56. 90. 35. 179-180 Tombs. 77. 59-61. 27. 147.81. 66. 162.168 United States. 28. 115. 153. 171. 37. 175. 46. 29. 9. 181. 131. 40. 11 1 Theory. 118.50. 191 Rural. 80. 43. 87. 63. 62. 178179. 145. 187 . 138. 133 Suburb (includes suburban). 95. 89. 56. 181 Symbolic interactionism. 89-96. 45. 127. 178 Renaissance church. 47. 52. 174. 159. 128. 154. 26. 88. 26. 152.167. 32. 145.173. 185. 148 Recreation. 118. 57. 147. 152. 185. 120. 197. 140 Space organization.44. 94-95. 188. 157. 29. 93. 27. 89. 89. 132. 1 17. 48. 15. 77. 152. 47. 14.145 Setting. 69. 169. 173. 46. 65. 157. 145. 175 Territory. 75. 167. 28. 124. 26 Status. 19. 158. 36. 151-153. 137. 78. 30. 114. 181 South Africa. 24 South America. 128. 65. 57. 121. 169. 133. 149-152. 171. 76. 85-86. 133. 16. 95. 56. 28. 172. 41. 136. 127. 118 Temple. 112. 147. 191 Structuralism. 105. 73. 141. 144. 193 Stress.94. 180. 26. 172-173 Symbol (includes symbolism). 21. 30. 126. 194 Peru. 129. 184. 147. 94. 173. 24. 69. 186 Plants (includes planting). 156. 134. 39-40. 28. 164. 92. 156. 23. 162. 57. 149. 90. 141. 62. 100. 9. 11 1. 150. 124. 56. 27. 68-69. 56. see also Public Psychology. 96. 59. 99. 177. 91. 156. 188. 92. 22. 43. 121. 190-191 Trees. 174. 64. 119. 35. 124. 32.187. 170.29. 188. 40. 67. 65. 186. 85. 26. 9. 32. 186 Schema. 169. 172 Sacred. 35. 35. 84. 156. 52 Semifixed-feature elements. 187 Relationships. 91. 198 Shops (includes shopping). 99. 174. 15. 107. 152. 96. 99. 70. 169. 40. 43. 93. 99. 130-131. 116.28. 145. 73 Situation. 35 Semantics. 80. 121. 48. 79-80. 23. 183. 181 Semiotics. 39. 152. 22. 132. 194 Redundancy. 159. 139 Public. 162. 158. 162-168. 34. 141. 124. 139. 9. 43 Repertory grid. 43. 155. 37.40. 159. 134. 118. 157. 36-43. 66. 155. 89. 170.41. 144.43-48. 21. 198 Time. 36 Rules. 185 Sign. 132. 35 Place. 193. 142. 88. 150. 39. 126-127. 121. 15. 115. 50. definition and interpretation of. 27. 144145. 115. 144. 37. 97. 90. 37. 40. 50. 162. 117. 34. 141. 29. 193 Standards. 94. 98. 14. 185. 179. 63. see also Private Pueblos. 158. 38. 141. 77-79. 89. 73. 118. 137. 159. 61.43.66. 35. 156-157. 52. 39. 83. 152. 32. 23. 32. 154. 67. 56.

183. 179 Vegetation. 21. 15. 43. 137-176 Users. 28. 27. 149 .Index 253 Urban. 141.28-29. 8 0 . 89. 88. 115. 141-142. 90. 159 Yoruba. 139. 4 0 . 189 Wilderness. 4 5 . 117. 4 3 . 1 17. 64. 9. 27. 3 4 . 7 0 . 4 4 . 16. 20. 92. 98. 1 19. 117. 119. 158. 29-30. 142. 24. 26. 76. 159. 121. 22. 198 Village. 1 4 . 21. 158. 188 Values. 141. 40. 99. 89. 34. 145. 70. 22. see Plants Vernacular. 4 0 . 27. 9. 150. 30. 134. 19. 141. 7 6 . 157.

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