Spatial Cognition and the Processing of Verticality in Underground Environments
Verticality is a relevant feature in many environments. Despite its relevance, little is known about how it is processed. In work conducted with the RATP, we approached this problem by comparing three forms of graphic aids intended to provide information about the vertical dimension of subway stations. These graphic representations were : floorplans of each level of the station, the same floorplans associated with a frontal view of the station and a three-dimensional axonometric representation of the station. Use of these representations was compared to learning of the station by navigation. Sixty four persons took part in the experiment. Participants had to perform routes, to locate landmarks and to compare distances. The axonometric representation was found to be the easiest to learn. The results also showed that this representation enabled individuals to perform well on the different tasks by allowing them to elaborate a correct mental representation of the vertical relations between the levels of the station, and between the underground and the outside. Thus, this kind of representation seems to be an efficient navigational aid, allowing users to achieve good planning for their displacements.
Keywordsspatial cognition verticality navigational aids underground and urban environments
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