Valorizing Behavioral Research in Improvement of the Built Environment

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Behavioral research investigates the link between human behavior and the natural and the built environment where the behaviors occur. In the ensuing interactions between human behavior and the environment, individuals change their environment, and, in turn, their behaviors are changed by their environment. This article addresses the problem that formal design processes have resulted in gaps between what users want and what professionals design for, and hence the need for spatial analysis. Traces in the physical environment that were consequences of user behaviors were documented. Case studies of the architectural design studios in three universities in Kenya were used. Observation of physical traces was used as a research technique. The study noted that the observed traces were indicators of use of the environment for prescribed activities, significant bad design, alteration of space, space abandonment, space abuse, and afforded appropriate and inappropriate activities and behaviors. The article discusses how the foregoing indicators can be used to improve the built environment.