Two Models for Path Design
In 2012 I did some research on the way that people draw on visual resources and sense memories to comprehend an experience. I looked at what factors influence a particular type of cognitive simulation (or mental imagery) called fictive motion. This experiment was conducted in an immersive forest setting along the green trail on this map:
I learned from this research that when a person can take a spectator view of an experience that they are participating in that they are more likely to use fictive motion in their descriptions of the experience. This suggests some things about the way people engage in online processing of experience, and it suggests a lot about how to better design experience to evoke these kinds of cognitive simulation during those experiences.
I won't give away the secret just yet, you can read about it in my article that is featured in the August 2014 issue of the landscape architecture journal KERB. What I will say now is that this research is useful for path design of any sort, whether it is a path through a room, a market, a gallery, a building, a city, a landscape, it works to compress large-scale experience spaces into human scale experiences (which is also the tack that I am taking with Geologic Cognition Society to compress geologic-scale issues into something humans can comprehend).
Here are two models of possible paths through natural landscapes that might evoke experiences of cognitive simulation (along with some other really fascinating effects). If you want to know why and how, pick up a copy of KERB 22 in August (start at page 24), it will be an excellent issue full of ways to implement empirically validated techniques into your design practice.