Wayfinding in an unfamiliar environment: different spatial settings of two polyclinics
The purpose of this article is to explore spatial orientation and wayfinding behavior of newcomers in an unfamiliar environment and to emphasize the importance of landmarks and spatial differentiation in the acquisition of environmental knowledge. One setting with a symmetrical layout and regularly organized, monotonous units on different floors and another setting with an asymmetrical layout and repetitive units along one side of a linear corridor of one floor were used to explore different strategies for learning about large-scale spatial environments. Wayfinding performance was found to correlate with performances in sketch-map tasks and the answers of a questionnaire about each building. Most of the participants of the asymmetrical setting could complete a sketch map with a minimum of errors. In the symmetrical setting, however, some participants drew incomplete sketch maps but could find their way through the building with a minimum of errors.