Why people get lost inside buildings
: The influence of architecture, information and navigator cognition on indoor wayfinding and waylosing

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study explores human wayfinding behaviour and waylosing inside buildings, from three perspectives – design practitioners, academic researchers and building users. Investigating why building users lose their way, this study identifies common strategies used after waylosing occurs, the emotions evoked by waylosing, and building user behaviour expected by design practitioners and academic researchers. Recalled waylosing occurrences and wayfinding strategies are compared with the assumptions of design practitioners involved in creating wayguidance systems. Using a three-stage, multiple method approach, this comparative study of waylosing causal factors and wayfinding strategies involves 182 navigators, and 50 design practitioners. Data from surveys, focus groups, interviews, and think-aloud protocol tasks has been triangulated and interpreted to develop three new theoretical concepts. PARC navigator typology identifies 4 types of indoor navigator; the EPIC Navigation conceptual framework identifies four inter-related factors influential on indoor wayfinding success; and the MAGPIE matrix identifies six waylosing causal factors and maps them against wayfinding success factors and wayguiding design factors. The new theories will help generate inclusive indoor wayguidance systems that consider navigator cognition. Discourse between navigators, architects, information designers and researchers aims to encourage new cross-disciplinary research of indoor waylosing and the development of better lost-person search protocols to find vulnerable people quickly after a waylosing occurrs.
    Date of Award30 Jan 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Birmingham City University
    SupervisorJieling Xiao (Independent Chair of Examination)


    • wayfinding
    • waylosing
    • information design
    • indoor navigation

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