A Virtual Architecture Framework for Immersive Learning Environments

Gerard, Pierre-François. 2020. A Virtual Architecture Framework for Immersive Learning Environments. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis presents a set of experimental studies to understand the benefits of utilising architectural design to create virtual environments optimised for completing a series of cognitively demanding tasks. Each field of investigation is reviewed separately. The first field of investigation relates to spatial design and analysis from an architectural standpoint. The second is concerned with memory, spatial abilities, and embodied cognition. Two VR-based user-studies are designed to further explore the potential interactions between these fields of knowledge. An initial experiment called “Archimemory” is based on a memory palace, a historical mnemonic technique, to explore how spatial knowledge representation can enhance memory retrieval. It compares the benefits of using different architectural designs in VR to support participants’ recall accuracy of a sequence of playing cards. The main user study,called the "Immersive Virtual Architecture Studio" (IVAS), validates a new methodology to study the effect of spatial qualities on embodied cognition related tasks. A spatial analysis using the isovist technique provides an objective approach to measure spatial qualities such as openness and complexity. Participants have to perform a batch of cognitive tasks in the IVAS. Results from the spatial analysis are compared to participants subjective rating of the same spatial qualities as well as their performance.Findings suggest that a spatial performance metric can be evaluated for each room, for instance, it was the highest in the case of the more closed (fewer windows) and more complex (with columns) condition. The combination of spatial analysis and performance metrics obtained from these two novel VR applications, Archimemory and IVAS, leads this research to form a Virtual Architecture Framework. Guidelines are proposed for VR architects, UX designers and scientists to adopt this framework to support further exploration and evaluation of spatial design to enhance human cognitive abilities when experiencing immersive learning environments.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



virtual architecture, virtual reality, spatial cognition, immersive learning environments,framework, isovists, design, memory palace, spatial memory, performance

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Date Deposited:

24 Jun 2021 11:24

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:19



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