Influence of Spatial Layout on Wayfinding Behaviour in Hospital Environment in Nigeria


Salawu Ahmed
Isa Bala Muhammad
Abdul Anakobe Isa
Momoh Ajanaku Sani


Many studies have shown that wayfinding is affected by the familiarity of subjects with the environment. Wayfinding difficulties are caused due to the complexities of building configuration and evolving spaces that emerge over time in response to operational needs and change which results in disorientation, uncertainty, anxiety, frustration, and stress. Alarge hospital environment greatly influences the wayfinding behaviour of newcomers,which could be stressful and intimidatingfor them. This study explores the wayfinding behaviour of unfamiliar users in the acquisition of knowledge of the environmentwith the aim to improve wayfinding competencein hospitals. The study was carriedout at JosUniversity Teaching Hospital (JUTH),situated in the PlateauState ofNigeria.The methods used for data collection werewalking-with observation, verbal protocol and a semi-structured interview.These methodsindicatedthe participants’level of wayfinding performance duringthe navigationaimed to find the desired destination. The respondents, n 16 (8 male and 8 female),were purposively sampled and observed through behavioural mapping. Additionally, 24 respondents were separately interviewed in order to triangulate the findings of behavioural mapping. The findings revealed thatthe majority (62.5%) of respondentsfoundthe building layout complex to navigate due to their spatial similarities.Additionally, the wayfinding experience of the majority (95.8%) of respondentsin the hospital wasestablishedto bedifficult and stressful. Also, the result provedthat60% offemale wayfinderswere more prone to wayfinding errors than malewayfindersin finding their way to the desired destinationdue to the complexity of the building layout.Thestudy recommendsthat building configuration design in hospitals should be organisedin a simplewayand it should be constantly reviewed as new spaces evolve.The implication calls for an improved designwhich remainsdistinctive and a well-linked layout that facilitateseffective and efficient wayfinding for unfamiliar usersin a safeand satisfactory manner.


How to Cite
Salawu Ahmed, Isa Bala Muhammad, Abdul Anakobe Isa, & Momoh Ajanaku Sani. (2020). Influence of Spatial Layout on Wayfinding Behaviour in Hospital Environment in Nigeria. Journal of Art, Architecture and Built Environment (JAABE), 3(1), 26-44.


Anacta, V. J. A., Schwering, A., Li, R. & Muenzer, S. (2017). Orientation information in wayfinding instructions. Springer Geojournal, 82, 567–583.
Bakr, E. A., & Elgendy, N. (2017). Spatial complexity: Identifying critical zones in the Egyptian underground reciprocal stations. REAL CORP, 2017(12-14), 527–539.
Booth, A. Carroll, C., Ilott, I. Low L. L., Cooper, K. (2013). Desperately seeking dissonance: Identifying the disconfirming case in qualitative evidence synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 23(1), 126–141.
Braun, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners. SAGE.
Brunye, T. T., Gardony, A. L., Holmes, A., & Taylor, H. A. (2018). Spatial decision dynamics during wayfinding: Intersections prompt the decision-making process. Cognitive Research: Pinciples and Implications, 3, 13.
Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.
Dalton, R. C., Hölscher, C., & Montello, D. R. (2019). Way finding as a social activity. Frontier in Psychology, 10(142), 1–14. https://doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00142.
Eisner, E. W. (1991). The enlightened eye: Qualitative inquiry and the enhancement of educational practice. Macmillan.
Ekstrom, A. D., Spiers, H. J., Bohbot, V. D., & Rosenbaum, R. S. (2018). Human spatial navigation. Princeton University Press.
Emo, B., Hölscher, C., Weiner, J. M., & Dalton, R. C. (2012). Way findings and spatial configuration: Evidence from street corners. In M. Geene, J. Reyes, & A. Castro (Eds.), Proceedings: Eight International Space Syntax Symposium. Santiago de Chile.
Gale, N. K., Heath, G., Cameron, E., Rashid, S., & Redwood S. (2013). Using the framework method for the analysis of qualitative data in multi-disciplinary health research. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 13, 117.
Haq, S., & Zimring, C. (2003). Just down the road a piece: The development of topological knowledge of building layouts. Environment and Behaviour, 35, 132–160.
Hölscher, C., Büchner, S., & Strube, G. (2013). Multi-floor buildings and human way findings cognition. Behavioural Brain Science Journal, 36, 551–552.
Hughes, N., Pinchin, J., Brown, M., & Shaw, D. (2015). Navigating in large hospitals. Paper presented at the 6th International Conference on Indoor Positioning and Indoor Navigation, Alberta, Canada.
Koseoglu, E. & Onder, D. E. (2011). Subjective and objective dimensions of spatial legibility. Procedia - Social and Behavioural Sciences, 30, 1191–1195.
Lawton, C. A. (2010). Gender, spatial abilities, and way findings. In J. C. Chrisler, & D. R. McCreary (Eds.), Handbook of gender research in psychology (pp. 317-341). Springer publisher.
Li, N. (2016). Using framework analysis in qualitative data: A brief guide.
Mandel, L. H. & LeMeur, K. A. (2018). User way finding strategies in public library facilities. Library and Information Science Research, 40 (1),
Martins, L. B., Melo, H. F. V. (2014). Way finding in hospital: A case study. Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference, DUXU 2014, held as part of HCI International, (pp. 72-82).
Mason, M. (2010). Sample size and saturation in Ph. D. studies using qualitative interviews. Forum; Qualitative Social Research. FQS 11(3), Art. 8.
Mustafa, F.A., & Rafeeq, D. A. (2019). Assessment of elementary school buildings in Erbil city using space syntax analysis and school teachers’ feedback. Alexandria Engineering Journal, 58(3), 1–15. 2019.09.007
Peponis, J. (2012). Building layout as cognitive data: purview and purview interface. Cognitive Critique, 6, 11–51.
Rahi, S. (2017). Research design and methods: a systemic review of research paradigms, sampling issues and instruments. International Journal of Economics & Management Science, 6(2), 1–5. https:/
Schwering, A., Krukar, J., Li, R., Anacta, V. J., & Fuest, S. (2017). Way findings through orientation. Spatial Cognition & Computation, 17(4), 273–303.
Sevinc, Z. & Bozkurt, E. (2015). Way finding behaviours in a healthcare environment: A case study analysis of individual differences. Gazi University Journal of Science (GUJ Sci.) Part: B, 3(3), 37–45.
Slone, E., Burles, F., Robinson, K., Levy, R.M., & Iaria, G. (2014). Floor plan connectivity influences wayfinding performance in virtual environments. Environment & Behaviour Journal, 47(9), 1024–1053.
Weisman, J. (1981). Evaluating architectural legibility way-finding in the built environment. Environment and Behaviour, 13(2), 189–204.
Werner, S., & Schindler, L. E. (2004). The role of spatial reference frames in architecture–misalignment impairs way finding performance. Environment & Behaviour Journal, 36, 461–482.