In house or building design, developing conceptual guidelines that include the psychological needs of clients is one of the more difficult tasks. Even as there were substantial number of studies done in this area of research, forecasting human behaviour and accordingly designing appropriate structures is considered incomplete, or an inexact process. Nonetheless, a designer must attempt to design a workable model that will include the client's usage profile and define their activities. That model then can be the basis for other design decisions.
Furthermore, a clear distinction needs to be made between the designer's clients and the actual users of the designed space. For example, a public recreational agency maybe the client, but the actual users could be adults or children with more than one expectations that are different than the client's views. In our practice we carefully consider those aspects of the design model and make sure the conceptual design is well received first.
A useful concept for studying the effects of environment on human activity is for the designer to consider a particular place with the set boundaries and its intended purpose. For example, a daily team meeting in a conference room can be considered a behavior setting. The activity of the meeting in that room includes certain routines: call to order, reading of minutes, discussions, etc. Those activities occur in the same place and the room is arranged to assist in meeting activities: table and chairs are arranged, audio-visual devices are present, phones and computer network are available, and lighting is sufficient, etc.
The concept of behaviour settings is useful for the designer because it facilitates the set behavioural aspects of some activity with the effects of the physical environment on participants. By knowing the participants involved and the type of activity taking place, concepts cans be developed that support the setting.
Territoriality, as one of fundamental aspects of human behaviour, refers to the need to lay claim to the spaces we occupy and the sense of ownership. Even as territoriality is based in the biological need for protection and security, it is more related to the sense of self-identity and freedom of choice of some claimed space. In addition to marking out objects and larger spaces in the environment, people also protect their own personal space, the space that is often described as the imaginary bubble od distance.
Territoriality can be applied to groups as well as to individuals. A study group, school class, or coop collective can claim a physical territory as their own, which helps give the group and the individuals in the group some sort of identity. Those spaces and environments should allow people to claim territory and make choices about where to be and what activities to engage in.
Personalization of space is an expression of territoriality and the need to arrange living space, workspace, or the environment to reflect the sense of uniqueness. The efficient and successful designs aim to eliminate, or minimize major adverse effects on people or on the environment as a whole. At the workplace, people bring in personal objects, family photographs, or their children's drawings to make that space their own. At home decorating and arranging objects has even more personal sense. Similar behaviour extends into public spaces such as buses, or airports, where travelers use their suitcase or bags to make the waiting time more personal and a little more comfortable.
Another example of space personalization is to modify the environment. That includes moving chairs in a cafe, or a restaurant, or in cinema. If that can't be done, the design is not as adaptable to the needs of he people using the design.
Seating arrangement is one of the most common ways of facilitating group interaction. People will seat themselves at a table according to the nature of their relationship with others around. Round tables tend to felicitate more cooperation and equality among those seated around them. Rectangular tables tend to make cooperation more difficult and establish the person sitting at the end in a more superior position, since that position is more exposed and visible to others. Strangers do not like to share the same sofa or park bench. Knowing the people and and living space activities expected to be in a place can help the designer in making appropriate decisions.
In places where informal group interaction will take place, research have shown that more than 96 percent of groups include two to four people. Planning and designing to accommodate these sizes of smaller groups makes sense than expecting groups of more people. in most cases, however, providing a variety of spaces for interaction is the best approach.
Perceived status of some people and designing living spaces is another key element of space planning. Since the environment can communicate status, someone with a corner office is perceived with more status than someone with only one exterior wall. Office size iss also suggestive of status in many cultures. A house, for example, in a better neighborhood provides a higher status than in other neighbourhoods. Status can also operate at the larger scale of an entire building or complex. So, the designer may want to include those elements in the design that symbolize some quality of the organization and give it a physical and psychological status in the community.
Thus it is recommended for the designer to investigate the requirements and implications of status. That can be achieved in some cases where clients clearly clearly state what status-related goals they want to achieve. At other times that can be achieved b discussion and suggested solutions.