Apperception: Understanding and anticipating the user in space based on neural and behavioural responses

Ivan Kulifaj, Vladimír Šimkovič

Cite this article
Kulifaj, I., Šimkovič, V. (2021) ‘Apperception: Understanding and anticipating the user in space based on neural and behavioural responses’, Architecture Papers of the Faculty of Architecture and Design STU, 26(1), pp. 39-49.



We are aware that it is not possible to include all theoretical psychological and neuroscientific starting points in the scope of the work, however, we are of the opinion the mentioned theories and research provide a solid basis for further research in the field of architecture and design. Furthermore, we also perceive the fact that the connection between neuroscience and psychology with design is still in its infancy, especially if we take into account studies originated in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Therefore, drawing on psychology and neuroscience, we tried to establish a basis, which could be used in the future and modified and updated later on as appropriate. In this work, we have summarized several cognitive processes, which in our opinion are closely related to user experience, namely consciousness, memory, perception, decision-making, physiological arousal of the organism, attention and emotionality. In further theoretical research, we would certainly focus on other cognitive processes, such as learning, the ability to plan and anticipate events, motor coordination, and problem solving. We believe that these cognitive processes are also important in the user’s interaction with space. Learning is largely related to our memory, including spatial memory, meaning that we can assume that user experience can also be influenced by how easy or difficult it is to remember a particular space. Alternatively, it can be affected by the way how the user may feel in similar premises (for example, the stores in the LIDL retail chain are arranged almost all the same). Planning and anticipating events is also an important cognitive factor, for example when designing spaces to be used for fast user actions, such as moving in the underground. Motor coordination can be a significant factor for people with various health (physical) disabilities, such as people using a wheelchair.

We realize that there are other psychological concepts, such as a typology of personality that could be measured in terms of user experience; still we believe that cognitive processes and emotionality are more crucial in this concept. When conceptualizing research design, we stemmed from the assumption of an increased development or developers’ activity and its impact on the environment, as well as the mental world of users. At the same time, we are working with the fact that neuroscience(s) and artificial intelligence are among the most developing fields of today. The main goal is to deepen the understanding of the user’s perception of space and thus push the method of design to a higher quality level. The basis of the research is a question arising from a futuristic concept, but the research findings are also applicable to today’s static architecture, which is the main goal of our dissertation thesis. Today’s application is mainly related to finding and offering the most ideal way to the construction market, or developers. In this case criticism would be justified if the only objective were to help the private sector earn more, however, it is not true. The primary and major goal is to find new ways and techniques of designing architecture that serves people. The goal is to connect all segments that are working together in order to develop the city and enhance the entire process. The expected benefit of the work is to achieve a greater adaptation of today’s architecture. This is one of the few researches that addresses human perception both through the conscious and the subconscious side of the subject, and both theoretically as well as through experiment or research. The work thus brings a different, more accurate view of the information about the user in space. This is further guaranteed by an interdisciplinary team of professionals who will bring views from other crafts, from the perspectives of users, urban structure and investors.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, neuroarchitecture, human perception, architecture, psychology