Friday, February 5, 2016

All things thigmotaxis…

By: Casey Bucher

In our ARC 532 class, we are currently delving into the depths of cognitive architecture.  The book we are referencing, Cognitive Architecture by Sussman and Hollander, begins by discussing Darwin’s theory of evolution and how, just like humans, architecture should evolve into a greater form. Since most buildings outlive their creators, the author believes that designers should design to the future and for clients they have yet to meet.  People’s tendencies and behaviors control the responses to the built environment.  They go in further detail in the “Edges Matter” chapter, explaining how humans will gravitate towards edges, as opposed to the center of an open piece of land, and that an urban setting can control people’s actions and responses to the surrounding areas.  The term thigmotaxis is brought into this discussion as well. Thigmotaxis is considered the “wall-hugging trait”. Animal species and humans both will drift towards an edge, due to natural instinct. A few questions were made for discussion on thigmotaxis:
What benefits of thigmotaxis may have promoted the trait’s success across species?
After some further research, I believe it became successful in response to greater safety, easier access to food supplies, finding mates, etc. for every type of species throughout time.
When designing a building or urban plan, what advantages do double-loaded corridors carry in general over a single-loaded plan and why?
The double-loaded corridors keep the clients and users attention from multiple sides. The user is busier with double the options and will likely have a greater chance of spending more.  This is why malls are so successful.
Jacobs, Alexander, and other urban observers write about the significance of “windows on the street”…what might be some of the reasons this is a hallmark of successful pedestrian urban environments?

The “windows on the street” causes a much more inviting surrounding.  It catches the walker’s eye and thus created the “window shopping” term. People stay to the edges, especially if there is something there to grab someone’s attention.

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