A phenomenological investigation of environmental gestalts: an intuitive reading in Harlan County, KY

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This thesis outlines and undertakes a phenomenological investigation of dwelling in Harlan County, Kentucky, which is located in the central Appalachian coal region. After comparing the phenomenological method of inquiry to other methods of landscape evaluation, this method proved to be a useful tool for understanding dwelling, a concept that is difficult to define or pinpoint through the other methods. Experiencing the front yards of homes in this county was deemed an appropriate vehicle for undertaking this study.

Empirical findings, derived from the phenomenological method of inquiry, were used to elucidate the emergence of patterns concerning dwelling. A conserver pattern emerged from the patterns observed. This conclusion is used to support the recommendation that phenomenological investigations be used in the classroom to aid students in the process of the reading the landscape for clues to more appropriate design decisions for dwelling.