Prospect-refuge theory

British geographer Appleton’s prospect-refuge theory stems from his habitat theory which proposes that human beings experience pleasure and satisfaction with landscapes that responds to their biological needs (Porteous, 1996). Appleton’s habitat theory basically depends on Darwin’s habitat theory, but with an aesthetical dimension. For Appleton, aesthetic satisfaction is "a spontaneous reaction to landscape as a habitat" (Porteous, 1996). On the other hand, prospect-refuge theory is about preferences for landscapes which provide "prospect" and "refuge" opportunities. Prospect-refuge theory is based on human’s urge to feel safe and to survive. During our evolutionary past as hunters and gatherers, a broader sight of view and opportunities to hide when in danger were essential for survival. Thus, Appleton believes that we intrinsically tend to prefer environments where we can observe and hide. However, ironically, the places with prospect and refuge opportunities are also favorable for potential offender (Fisher & Nasar, 1992). The offender may hide from, wait for and attack to his victim in environments which offer prospect and refuge. Fisher and Nasar (1992) suggested that places with low prospect and high refuge lead to feelings of fear and unsafety. Although Appleton’s theory is concerned with natural environments, physical organization of a space is clearly linked to the feeling of safety. Therefore, same principles can be adapted to design in urban environments.

Updated: October 13, 2015 — 5:53 am