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Study of Aesthetic Evaluation and Aesthetic Response to Architectural Space

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Shih-Yung Liu & Hsiu-Tyan Chuang
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  The SIJ Transactions on Computer Science Engineering & its Applications (CSEA), Vol. 2, No. 4, June 2014   ISSN: 2321-2381 © 2014 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 123   Abstract   —  This study used various photographs of architectural space as the tool of investigation to 1,167 college students. During the process of developing research instrument, we first used multi-cross comparison, and gradually narrow down the quantity of pictures used for the investigation, then conducting formal investigation without going through the ―  pilot test ‖  process. After the field investigation, we further reduced the quantity of factors and questionnaires according to the statistical analysis of data gathered through the investigation. Then the methods of Delphi technique and the focus group are used to interpret the various factors and physical features, and naming all the factors accordingly before the final differentiation analysis. Two major conclusions are drawn from this study. First of all, a built space with features of ― form of modern technology and materials, showing the flowing curve of infinite extension and tension ‖  is more likely to create aesthetic response. Secondly, at the aesthetic evaluation of the 8 factors, different gender and age are significantly diverse in 3 and 4 factors respectively, while students with design and non-design major have significant differences in 5 factors. The conclusion responds studies made abroad in this regard. Keywords   —  Aesthetic Evaluation; Aesthetic Factors; Aesthetic Response; Environmental Aesthetics; Formal Aesthetics. I.   P REFACE   EAUTIFUL things are welcome by everyone. Still, some environment sends out a sense of pleasure, while some shows unattractiveness and dullness. What are the factors or components contribute to aesthetic environment? How do different individuals judge an environment being attractive or not? How do designers create aesthetic experiences to users of spaces? These are all important issues that waited to be explored for environment-related practice, such as urban planning, landscape, architecture and interior design. That is why research relates to environmental aesthetics has always been focused. From the educational viewpoints, professional training and education begin at college; will training bring differentiation to certain aspects? Are aesthetic evaluations from design and non-design students totally different? These are all questions require further discussions. Most of the existing researches of environmental aesthetics are based on scientific empirical theories. The so-called empirical aesthetics focus on physical features of environment, it focuses entirely on form or structure of objects to explore relation between aesthetic experience and form or structure. Thus, it is also known as formal aesthetics or structural aesthetics. Aesthetics research often uses scientific approach to analyze relation between physical features of environment and human response to aesthetics, so that designers can capture creation of aesthetics precisely. Discussions mainly focus on correlational analysis of environment components that offer aesthetic perception. Using environment structure as independent variables and individual perception as dependent variables to analyze relation between each other based on individual attribute manifest variables such as gender, age, education  background, socio-economic status, and personality. Environmental aesthetics is a subject that has wide coverage; the current international research focuses on urban  planning, architecture, and landscape heavily, a few also concentrates on interior design. Though less empirical research of environmental aesthetics are found in Taiwan, some focus on landscape architecture can be seen as well. Research targets or tools vary from different research studies, which lead to various aesthetic factors. However, an unanimous finding regarding distinguished preference exists  between the professionals and the general public indicates that preference of man-made environment and aesthetic B *Assistant Professor, Department of Interior Design, Chung Yuan Christian University, Zhongli City, Taoyuan County, Taiwan (R.O.C.). E-Mail: deshouse{at}ms46{dot}hinet{dot}net **Professor, Department of Design, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei City, Taiwan (R.O.C.). E-Mail: hsiutyan{at}ntnu{dot}edu{dot}tw Shih-Yung Liu* & Hsiu-Tyan Chuang** Study of Aesthetic Evaluation and Aesthetic Response to Architectural Space  The SIJ Transactions on Computer Science Engineering & its Applications (CSEA), Vol. 2, No. 4, June 2014   ISSN: 2321-2381 © 2014 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 124   evaluation do exist in-between (i.e. Groat, 1982; Duffy, 1986; Devlin & Nasar, 1989; Nasar & Kang, 1989; Nasar, 1989;1997; Scott, 1993; Gifford et al., 2000). Zube & Taylor (1982) believe that cultural background affects environment  preference. Professional knowledge and cultural background of the professionals and the general public could result in significance of environment preference. The question of whether the difference also exists between design and non-design college students requires further discussion. Although college students cannot represent the  professionals and the general public, they can be typical group sample as this study hopes to find out difference results from professional education. Therefore, this study takes college students as its participants and photos of exterior and interior space as its study tool to measure aesthetic evaluation. Main purposes of this research include:    Developing measure tool and method to explore college students’ aesthetic evaluation of architectural space.    Analyzing differences among various grades, ganders and majors towards aesthetic evaluation. Results from this research will benefit further understanding of differences from professional design training and education. II.   L  ITERATURE R EVIEWS   Definition of aesthetics varies for over thousands of years [Valentine, 1968; Tatarkiewicz, 1970; Feagin, 1995]. Santayana (1896; 1955) believes that aesthetics is a positive and objective value within. Dewey (1934) argues that aesthetics is a living and concrete experience formality, which indicates that aesthetic experiential consequences should be the standard of aesthetic evaluation. Hence, aesthetic experience is often defined as a subjective  pleasuring experience toward objects. In other words, aesthetics and aesthetic pleasure are interacted with each other [Kubovy, 2000; Martindale & Moore, 1988]. Shih (2002) sorts out that aesthetics is the subjective inner experience, judgment, and evaluation of human with certain aesthetic ability and thoughts results from objects that commonly seen as beautiful and aesthetic, as well as the state of mind with pleasure and peace. Research of environmental aesthetics in the past is mostly empirical aesthetics. Environmental aesthetics is also defined as sensory aesthetics, formal aesthetics, and symbolic aesthetics. Sensory aesthetics emphasizes on human reaction to the environment, formal aesthetics concentrates on composition of elements, such as balance, proportion, color, lighting, texture, and its effects to aesthetic perception; while symbolic aesthetics focuses on human perception results from culture and experiences. Formal aesthetics uses empirical aesthetic theory to find out ― aesthetic factor  ‖  resulted from stimulation of real environment and ― aesthetic response ‖  from different individual towards different aesthetic factors. ― Aesthetic factor  ‖  means physical features of environment  —  form or structure that composes objects, including its variations. Discourses vary from shape, proportion, rhythm, ratio, complexity, color, brightness and shadow, [Lang, 1987] space syntax and space relation system, [Groat & Despres, 1991] complexity, incompatibility, ambiguity, marvel, uniqueness and order. Wohlwill (1976), Nasar (1988) sorted out these aesthetic factors into three categories: complexity, spatial perception and order. Complexity includes visual richness and decoration accessories. Spatial perception includes openness, broadness and density, while order includes unity, order and clarity. In addition, ― aesthetic response ‖  is the sweet physical, psychological and behavioral responses caused by environmental aesthetics. Lang (1987)  pointed out that traditional definition of aesthetics means artistic perception of aesthetics, aesthetic response only deals with feelings of enormous density, such as feeling of sublime. However, aesthetics in environmental aesthetics is not the traditional aesthetics; instead, it is defined as psychologically  pleasure sensation towards environment. In other words, aesthetic response in environmental aesthetics stands for the sense of pleasure caused by environmental aesthetic factors. Probabilistic framework for aesthetics by Nasar (1997) clearly explains the relation between aesthetic factor and aesthetic response based on interactionalism. Aesthetic response is one of many responses from environmental cues within this framework. Environment offers all sorts of cues and human react to these cues mentally, physically, and  behaviorally. Aesthetic response or preference is presented as  pleasuring feelings arose. Moreover, aesthetic response is an interaction process of preference evaluation results from different individual attributes, perception, and acknowledgement. Therefore, aesthetic response can be seen as a probabilistic relation with physical features of environment, which is built upon continuous interaction  between human and its surroundings. The probabilistic framework indicates that aesthetics results from human, the environment, and the interaction in- between. Aesthetic response and building physical features have probabilistic relation, that is to say some building  physical features might trigger aesthetic response. Moreover, cognition is a very important intervening variable during this  process. Aesthetic response could be different due to  personality, emotion, social-cultural experience, goal, and expectation, probability might be different as well. For instance, Gifford (1980) finds out that positive review often comes along with good mood. It is clear that individual attributes have certain influence on aesthetic response. The most effective individual attribute is highly related to culture and education background. Nasar (1997) states that different learning and experience from different groups is the key to all differences. And the most significant and consistent group difference among all is between the high- cultural designers and the general public. Aesthetic evaluation results have approved that significant difference exist between professional designers (i.e. architects, interior designers) and the general public.  The SIJ Transactions on Computer Science Engineering & its Applications (CSEA), Vol. 2, No. 4, June 2014   ISSN: 2321-2381 © 2014 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 125   Hershberger (1969) tries to compare architectural semantic description among architects, architect candidates, and the general public, architects obviously have extreme different description from the rest, which could result from  professional training and experience that architects have. Duffy (1986) also looks into preference on nursing home design from nursing home managers and residents, and design major students. Results show that designers and managers have similar preference in general, while the managers and residents only have the same preference on table design and exterior design of nursing home. Gifford et al., (2000) point out difference appears when aesthetic evaluation is made by architects and non-architects regarding architecture façade. Groat (1982) selects 24 buildings and asks 20 architects and non-architects respectively to assess modernism architecture and post-modernism architecture via multiple sorting task. The assessment specifies that the general public tend to assess architecture by its own subjective viewpoint, while architects tend to assess it based on design quality, shape, style, and historical element. Architects can easily distinguish difference between modernism architecture and post-modernism architecture with their professional background, while the general public cannot. Figure 1: Probabilistic Framework for Aesthetics [Nasar, 1997] Significant difference of environment evaluation  between designers and non-designers could be the results of cultural background. Rapport (1969) defines that spatial culture characteristics as various context appear in the same space pattern used by different ethnic groups. Context is formed by users’ cultures intentionally and unintentionally, which reflects its certain core value. Since environment  preference is different from personal experience and culture  background, with different culture background and experience, designers and non-designers are destined to have different environment preference. III.   R ESEARCH M ETHOD   3.1.   Research Structure, Hypothesis and Respondents Based on empirical formal aesthetic targeted at architectural space, this research took college students as its respondents and tried to explore aesthetic evaluation of various architectural space from different individual attributes. Individual attribute and architectural space are the independent variables in this research, dependent variable is aesthetic evaluation. Null hypothesis in this research is ― no significant difference from aesthetic evaluation of architectural space among different college students’ attributes ‖ . In order to explore possible differences between design students trained by architecture or interior design education and non-design students trained by other professional education on aesthetic evaluation, this research sorted out one of its variables as ― department/major  ‖  to differentiate the differences. Moreover, due to the high similarity of demographic variable, only ― gender  ‖  and ― grade ‖  were added additionally, while ― grade ‖  was classified as freshman, sophomore, junior and senior year. Respondents were divided into design schools and non-design schools via stratified sampling. Building attributes A1A1 A2 A2 A3A3 .a. .a. .a. Observer (O) (personality, affective state, intention, cultural experience) Perception (P)  (of building attributes) Cognition (C)  Judgment of  building attributes Affect (a) (Emotional reactions) Affective Appraisals (aa) Connotative meanings Aesthetic Response ( affect, physical reaction, and behavior  )  Pa1 Pa2 Paa PP1 PC PP2 PO1 PO2 P1 P2 Pn P3  The SIJ Transactions on Computer Science Engineering & its Applications (CSEA), Vol. 2, No. 4, June 2014   ISSN: 2321-2381 © 2014 | Published by The Standard International Journals (The SIJ) 126   3.2.   Research Tool Quantification of aesthetic evaluation is the key to a successful research in empirical environmental aesthetic research. It is not judged by rational perception, but by intensity of feelings [Stamps, 2000]. Nasar (1997) believed that suggestions from related researches (eg. Oostendorp, 1978; Feimer, 1984) indicate that using pictures as the measure tool can predict respondents’ similar responses from the scene. Owing to the rich information it contains in  pictures, it is one of the tools that can display complicated environment completely so that respondents can go through assorted environments in a short period of time. Therefore,  pictures are widely used for aesthetics research, being effectively and easily. Most research results from other countries are identically the same. Respondents react the same to the colored slides or photographs as they were at the scene [Seaton & Collins, 1970; Hershberger & Cass, 1974; Oostendorp, 1978; Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989]. Therefore, this research adopted colored photographs retrieved from magazines or websites domestically and internationally as the research tool. This research defines ― architectural space ‖  as space (indoor and outdoor) that after architecture and interior design work. Due to objective restrictions, this research carried out its questionnaire through slide projection instead of real on-site evaluation. Even though the above literatures show that evaluations from seeing photographs match on-site seeing experience, it only indicates photograph presentation which should not be explained as an identical overall experience. In other words, extrapolation results should be made within certain restrictions. When it comes to developments of research tool, based on literature reviews and experts’ opinions, outlining 10 aesthetic components related to architectural space. They are ratio and scale, shape and format, complexity, style, order, color, spatial perception, texture, shadow and lighting, and marvel and srcinality. 2 architecture graduate students and 2 interior design graduate students worked together to select 300 pieces of real design work colored photographs from recent architecture and interior design magazines and websites worldwide. Later, four experts with year-long  practical working experience from architecture and interior design industry selected their 300 photographs in the same way. Photographs with poor printing quality or complex  background are excluded, keeping only those with distinct architectural space. Cross comparing photographs from the two groups, 165 photographs interacted. 10 teachers from architecture and interior design departments were gathered at the expert meeting via focus groups approach to pick out the most ideal photographs to measure the 10 components. There were 105 photographs approved by 6 teachers, including 52  photographs of architectural space and 53 of interior space, each component has different pieces of photographs.  Numbering these 105 photographs and converting them onto PowerPoint file in use of measure tool for questionnaires. Only the number of A1 to A105 showed while display, not revealing its component category. Without pilot test, the formal questionnaire was carried out straight away. After analysis, this research narrowed down list of questions and numbers of components. Final analysis was based on the reduced components and questions. A brief introduction of goal and instruction was given before the official display of questionnaire. There is a 10-second delay between each photograph display, respondents were asked to choose their subjective aesthetic feeling of each one. Likert scale was used to evaluate aesthetics, from 5, 4, 3,2 to 1, each represents extremely attractive, attractive, ordinary, unattractive and extremely unattractive. The higher the point is, the higher aesthetic value it shows to the respondents. Results from 105 questions regarding aesthetic evaluation were analyzed by SPSS 12.0. This research sent the file via email to 10 teachers with master’s  degree that have at least 5 years of practical design working experience with Delphi technique to interpret these photographs on  psychological attributes and visual features. Psychological attribute is the overall feeling sends out from space in  photographs, described in adjectives. Visual feature is the appearance from each space, described in objective description. After collecting replies from experts, the reorganized results were sent back to them so that they could review and revise if necessary. This step was repeated twice. A focus group invited these experts to exchange and discuss their thoughts and opinions. The author finalized and named each component after complete description and discussion from these experts. IV.   R ESEARCH R ESULTS AND A NALYSIS   4.1.   Individual Attributes Distribution In all valid 1,167 samples collected by this research, individual attributes distribution are: 1. Gender: 443 males (38.0%) and 724 females (62.0%). 2. Grade: 390 freshman students (33.4%), 385 sophomore students (33.0%), 336  junior students (28.8%) and 56 senior students (4.8%). 3. Professional background: 581 design major students (49.8%) and 586 non design major students (50.2%). There are 105 questions in this research scale composed  by 105 pictures. All respondents are asked to assess aesthetic evaluation of all 105 questions. With Cronbach's α reaches .945, meaning these questions have an excellent internal consistency that makes the scale highly reliable. 4.2.   Exploratory Factor Analysis Results from 105 questions regarding aesthetic evaluation were analyzed by SPSS 12.0. Using KMO and Bartlett’s test of sphericity to determine variables suitable for factor analysis and results showed that KMO= .930 with superb suitability, while chi-square distribution was 39095.228 (df=5460), p=.000 with significance. In short, there are common factors in correlation matrix of population suitable for factor analysis. After using principle component analysis and orthogonal varimax rotation, 22 components with eigen value higher than 1were extracted, which could explain
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