Exploring vertical navigation within a virtual environment : a staircase experience
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Architectural cues are configured by architects in the initial phase of design process. Local architectural cues within an environment can aid individuals during navigation and influence their spatial orientation. Staircases, as a feature of local architectural cues that provide access to the other floors in a multi-level building can have an impact on vertical navigation. This study focuses on the issue of vertical navigation during virtual navigation by integrating the individual characteristics and the geometric attributes of a staircase pair within two different multi-level desktop virtual environments (VEs). The angle between the cue pairs with respect to the same observation point is altered in order to determine the staircase pair that is more efficient in navigation. Circulation paths, gender differences, navigational abilities and cue pairs are considered to be factors that affect staircase preferences for ascending and descending. For the VE with a 180° difference between the cue pairs, there was a relationship between the ascending and descending staircases. Further analysis indicated that the staircase preference in ascending was either related to the first or last visited rooms on the ground floor. For the VE with a 90° difference between the cue pairs, no relationship was found between the ascending and descending staircases as well as with any other factor. There was no significant relationship between gender and staircase preference except for the descending staircase with 180° difference between the cue pairs and was in favor of females. In addition, there was no significant relationship between the navigational abilities and staircase preferences.