Journal of Architecture and Planning (Transactions of AIJ)
Online ISSN : 1881-8161
Print ISSN : 1340-4210
ISSN-L : 1340-4210
How signage mediates self-directed study about the built environment in a park setting
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2021 Volume 86 Issue 780 Pages 687-696


 This study examines signage and monuments to discover how they may contribute to Built Environment Education (BEE) for self-directed lifelong learning. The site chosen for this study is Ishibashi Memorial Park in Kagoshima, due to its layered historical functions; currently as an educational park for Kagoshima’s stone bridge heritage, but formerly a battleground and religious site. This analysis is conducted using BECK (Built Environment Context of Knowledge) Charts developed in our previous study, which allows us to categorize types of knowledge presented, and to visualize where this knowledge is concentrated. The text and diagrams on 20 signs and 9 monuments are analyzed by coding phrases according to the horizontal and vertical axis of the BECK Chart. These codes were tabulated, the number of occurrences were entered into the corresponding cell on the chart, and each cell was assigned a tonal gradation with darker tones representing higher frequency. This allowed us to see at a glance which types of knowledge were mainly presented on each sign or monument.

 This analysis demonstrated that technical, political, and social knowledge about the built environment appeared most frequently. The amount of textual information available throughout the park is extensive, and thus it is possible to state that the signs and monuments have potential to contribute to BEE through self-directed lifelong learning. However, some hurdles to learning were also identified. Due to its many uses over time, this site contains a mixture of historic remains, reconstructed historical artifacts, and modern facilities. These are scattered throughout, and there is no clear attempt to integrate these coherently in the overall park design. This makes it difficult for visitors to infer the relationship between these disparate elements through the information on the signs alone. Additionally, reading the signs is time consuming, and depending on the background, motivation, and literacy of the visitor, the amount of effort needed to understand all the information on display is considerable. While the potential for BEE in the park is great, whether this translates into actual learning is questionable. This is an important consideration in relation to the design of parks which are intentionally educational.

 In terms of applying the BECK Chart, it was found that the original matrix label of ‘building’ was insufficient to address structures which are built, but are not buildings. This was rectified by adding the term ‘structure’ to the label, which allowed for wider application without losing the integrity of the original chart.

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© 2021 Architectural Institute of Japan
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