This research investigates the need for improvements to navigation tools and locational awareness within digital architectural models so that users’ spatial cognition can be enhanced.
Evidence shows that navigation and disorientation are common problems within digital architectural models, often impairing spatial cognition. When a designer or contractor explores a completed digital architectural model for the first time, it can be a progressively frustrating experience, often leading to the creation of an incorrect cognitive map of the building design.
A reflective practice research method across three project-based design investigations is used drawing on aspects of architectural communication, digital interaction, and spatial cognition. The first investigation, Translation projects, explores the transformation of two- dimensional drawing conventions into three-dimensional interactive digital models, exposing the need for improved navigation and wayfinding. The second investigation, a series of artificial intelligence navigation projects, explores navigation methods to aid spatial cognition by providing tools that help to visualise the navigation process, paths to travel, and paths travelled.
The third and final investigation, Distance projects, demonstrates the benefits of productive transition in the creation of cognitive maps. During the transition, assistance is given to aid the estimation of distance.
The original contribution to knowledge that this research establishes is a framework for navigation tools and wayshowing strategies for improving spatial cognition within digital architectural models. The consideration of wayshowing methods, focusing on spatial transitions beyond predefined views of the digital model, provides a strong method for aiding users to construct comprehensive cognitive maps. This research addresses the undeveloped field of aiding distance estimation inside digital architectural models.There is a need to improve spatial cognition by understanding distance, detail, data, and design when reviewing digital architectural models.