AM Posters 2009 START Conference Manager    

Attributing and Defining Meaning to the Built Environment: The Semiotics of Wayfinding

Lauren H. Mandel

(Submission #54)


Humans navigating the built environment are concerned with environmental legibility and the importance of wayfinding. Wayfinding can be assisted by tools such as maps, signs, architectural cues, and verbal assistance. Yet, there is no cohesive understanding of what is inherent in these tools that successfully assists wayfinders. Gleaning this inherent quality could propel wayfinding theory forward to the point that it could be applied through physical manifestations such as the aforementioned wayfinding aids.

One possibility lies in the theory of semiotics. Questions can be asked through semiotics about the meaning of library architecture and wayfinding tools. Semiotics allows questions about human information-seeking behavior that incorporate ideas of the social constructs of meanings and information needs. This can be applied to the field of wayfinding, a field that asks about human spatial information behavior.

Wayfinding is the human ability to find a desired location. This ability is influenced by several factors including layout of setting and quality of environmental information. This environmental information includes architectural, graphic, and verbal information, all of which are imbued with meanings that can be understood through the semiotic framework.

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