Minding the city: A case study on the new conceptualizations of human experience in the built environment

Karakaş T., Dumlu B. N., Yıldız Özkan D.

A/Z ITU Journal of the Faculty of Architecture, vol.20, no.1, pp.163-179, 2023 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 20 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.5505/itujfa.2022.53179
  • Journal Name: A/Z ITU Journal of the Faculty of Architecture
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.163-179
  • Keywords: Cognitive sciences, Human evolutionary cognitive tendencies, Human-built environment interaction, Human-nature interaction, Neuroscience
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The study intends to mind the city by taking the information gathered through the senses and processed in the human brain as the primary concern in understanding the human experience in the built environment. This refreshing approach deals with human behavior, perception, cognition, sensation, and emotion that requires a well-defined conceptual framework. Therefore, as the study’s primary objective, minding the city investigates the conceptualizations based on human evolutionary cognitive tendencies: biophilia, bilateral symmetry, mirror neurons, pareidolia, proxemics, thigmotaxis, curvilinearity and rectilinearity. The human experience is investigated, considering it as an individual human self, interpersonal human beings, and through human-built environment interactions and humannature interactions. The paper was designed as qualitative research employing a case study strategy to develop explanatory and exploratory empirical inquiry. The conceptualizations were studied through fieldwork using observational measurements, mapping techniques, and the declaration of participants’ own experiences. The fieldwork was conducted through a serial workshop entitled ‘Minding the city: Bring your brain into the built environment’ in İstanbul and Famagusta in 2019. As the output of the study, the visual and verbal representations of conceptualizations and urban codes were presented and discussed with the related literature. Ultimately, the acquired knowledge applied to a theory-building structure expands the theory of human experience investigated through the idea of minding the city. In sum, the study presented evolutionary aspects of human experience in a new way by identifying generalizable patterns, presented as urban codes, occurring in the daily experience of individuals and groups.