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The geometry of form : a preference study Kennedy, Carolyn Joan

Abstract

This study attempts to determine whether the general public prefer curved edges over angular edges in urban park settings. Additionally, the construct validity of the information processing theory is called into doubt because of the difficulty in drawing sound conclusions when using compound constructs. It is posited that some of the results from the information processing experiments may be explained using simple concepts such as preference for curvilinear form. An experiment was conducted using four sets of images- two water features, one path and one combined planter and path which were manipulated into twenty different images that vary in degrees of angularity to curvilinearity. One group of images contained the entire scene (contextual condition) while the other set had most of the background blocked from the scene (non-contextual condition). Eighty participants from the Vancouver Aquatic Centre completed a balanced paired comparison task with 40 image comparison slides. Findings include strong correlations between curvilinearity and number of wins in seven of the eight image sets. The results of one water image set differed between the contextual and non-contextual groups. The primary conclusion is that the general public prefers landscape objects that have curved edges over those with angular edges. Additionally, the results provide grounds to question previous findings which claim that preference of s-curved paths are due to mystery because of a promise of new information. The third purpose of this study was the exploration of developing theories derived from quantitative research that are applicable to the practice of landscape architecture. A design application at Kitsilano Beach is explored to investigate the utility of the current study. It is concluded that it is possible to use quantitative research to develop practical design theories and future research using varied methodologies is suggested.

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