Vol. 11 No. 2 (2014): Space Syntax

The influence of spatial organization of the home on inhabitant activity

Sonit Bafna
College of Architecture, Georgia Tech, Atlanta GA 30318 USA
Earle Chambers
Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA

Published 2014-12-01


  • Sedentary activity,
  • habitual behavior,
  • socialization,
  • domestic life,
  • methodological individualism,
  • functional explanation
  • ...More

How to Cite

Bafna, S., & Chambers, E. (2014). The influence of spatial organization of the home on inhabitant activity. A|Z ITU JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE, 11(2), 31 - 46. Retrieved from https://www.az.itu.edu.tr/index.php/jfa/article/view/453


We describe a study to test whether the arrangement of rooms in an apartment has any systematic association with the levels of activity of its inhabitants. This study was conducted in a sample of Latino adults living in the Bronx, New York. A convenience sample of 19 apartments was selected within the Bronx, NY and one adult volunteer was selected from each household based on who was present at the time of a home visit conducted to collect information on extent of activities. Floor plans for the apartments were obtained from the city authorities. The paper begins by reasoning about the mechanism by which the organization of space can influence levels of activity in the house, and goes on distinguish, first, habitual from deliberate and planned activity, and second, sedentary from more vigorous activity. It is argued that habitual activity would be more susceptible to the influence of spatial organization, and that such habitual activity is likely to be sedentary activity around the house rather than moderate or intense activity. Furthermore, different types of sedentary activity should respond differentially to spatial organization. Specifically, sedentary activities that are susceptible to social life in the house, or require social participation like watching TV or playing cards, should show a positive association with how closely the rooms are knit together, while sedentary activities such as reading, working on computers, and playing video games, that are better conducted in solitary situations, should not. Bivariate analyses showed that interconnectedness (a modified version of integration) was significantly associated with hours spent in socially susceptible sedentary activities but not with hours spent in sedentary activities that occur in solitary conditions, like using the computer or reading. In multivariate analyses, conducted to control for the effects of age and educational level, interconnectedness was still significantly associated with sedentary activity hours. A separate test showed that the positive association with interconnectedness also held for sitting/reclining Hours reported over the day; unlike sedentary activity hours, sitting/reclining hours included activity outside the home as well, so the result raises issues of additional interest. The paper concludes by presenting methodological implications, focusing particularly on how the study could be further developed to model the specific mechanisms by which spatial organization exerts its influence on behavior.