The Role of the Senses in Children’s Perception of Space




Children, cognitive map, memory, multi-sensory perception, perception of space


While we humans exist in space through our bodies, we experience it via all our senses and build up an integrated knowledge of the world in our memories.  However, children’s conception of the world differs from adults due to their developmental stages. This study aims to examine human-space interaction with a new approach to reveal the effects of sensory stimuli on children's perception and memory of space.  The case study was conducted in a theme park that offers various sensory stimuli with particularly designed spaces and activities. For the behavioral data, the spatial preferences of the participants (33 children, age 10) were recorded during the tour, and for the memory data participants were asked to draw pictures (cognitive maps) afterwards. The data sets were redefined by the main sensory stimuli offered by the spatial units (spatial data), and the number of stimulus experiences and the number of stimulus recalls were analyzed comparatively. Contrary to popular belief, the results show that (1) all of the senses take part in perception depending on the existing stimuli in the space, vision does not have any precedence; (2) the functioning of the senses during an experience changes depending on how much stimulus they are exposed to and how much the body participates in the perception process; (3) kinesthetic stimuli come to the fore as the best stored stimuli in memory, whereas the taste stimuli remain in the background as the least remembered ones.  The case study group was limited, the subjective aspects of perception, and the age and gender differences that may exist are ignored.  With the inclusion of age and gender factors precisely, this methodology could reveal promising alternatives for design methods and guide the production of all types of architectural spaces, including the children's spaces. This study proposes an original perspective that regards both the physical and social components of the space as the source of perception; and it attempts to make up for a deficiency by regarding the children who are mostly neglected in other studies, yet are active users of the space.


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Author Biographies

Zeynep Tarçın Turgay, Gebze Technical University

Zeynep Tarçın Turgay received her B.Arch (2004), MSc. (2007) and PhD. (2018) degrees from İstanbul Technical University (ITU) Faculty of Architecture. Currently works as an assistant professor at Gebze Technical University. Her major research interests include architectural design theory, cognitive psychology, environmental psychology, environment and behavior theories, space syntax; and she investigates human-space relations in terms of perception, memory and behavior processes.

Mine Tunçok Sarıberberoğlu, Abant Izzet Baysal University

Mine Tunçok Sarıberberoğlu received her B. Arch (2007) degree from Yeditepe University (YU) Faculty of Architecture, MSc. (2010) and PhD. (2018) degrees from İstanbul Technical University (ITU) Faculty of Architecture. Currently works as an assistant professor at Bolu Abant İzzet Baysal University. She investigates human space interactions on understanding the behavior and cognition relations with architectural programming. Major research interests include architectural design theory, cognitive psychology, environmental psychology, environment and behavior theories, space syntax.


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How to Cite

Tarçın Turgay, Z., & Tunçok Sarıberberoğlu, M. . (2022). The Role of the Senses in Children’s Perception of Space . ICONARP International Journal of Architecture and Planning, 10(1), 70–96.