Evidence Based Design Topic:

The Importance of Behavioral Mapping


Throughout Evidence Based Design Research (or EBD), there are different methods one can use to collect and examine data. One such method is referred to as behavioral mapping.  Behavioral mapping is defined as a research tool used to observe and record the behaviors of others in a specific setting in conjunction with a specific window of time.

This is helpful to us as Architects, Designers, and facilities experts when planning improvements to an existing space, improving the overall design of similar spaces in the future, or confirming that a newly designed or redesigned space ultimately supports the specific behaviors for which it was intentionally designed.

One of our designers put behavioral mapping to the test and produced data, which was ultimately used in conjunction with a variety of other research methods, to determine an outcome and learn more about how users interact with their built environment. In this example behavioral mapping was used to determine how the design of a cardiovascular unit impacted staff workflow and operational efficacies at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center. Observation occurred in both a pre-occupancy evaluation with the existing unit, and a post-occupancy evaluation several months later after the re-designed unit was up an operational. The research was conducted at (4) consistent locations throughout the ICU with an additional (4) locations throughout the NICU for four hours during consistent increments of time.

The mapping was completed by hand using a color coding method to record the movements of physicians, nurses, and technicians in fifteen-minute increments of time.  When implemented into the computer through the form of layering, outcomes helped identify where traffic patterns within each unit were at their greatest and how the design of the unit was contributing to efficiency of care. Below are the results from the behavioral mapping research method.

While in this particular example, Behavioral Mapping was used in a healthcare setting. It can also be useful when planning renovations or new construction for Universities, K-12, and hospitality environments.