Purpose – The purpose of this article is to explore the relationship between measures of the plan configuration of buildings (in this case multi-bed wards), and subjective judgements on spatial locations for privacy. Design/methodology/approach – Measures of plan configuration from six generic ward designs have been made using space syntax software (visibility graph analysis and depth map). Subjective judgements have been assessed by means of a questionnaire. Findings – Participants' chosen locations for privacy have been shown to have a systematic relationship with spatial properties of the ward plans. At a ward level the designs with low integration and high control were chosen. At the bed location lower values of integration and control were selected. Research limitations/implications – In this study one facet of privacy (i.e. spatial location) has been investigated. These findings now need to be extended to studies involving environmental simulations, visibility and three-dimensional awareness of spaces as experienced by hospital users. In addition further analysis will be carried out at an individual design level and the possibility of subgroups of people with different preferences will be explored. Practical implications – Space syntax has a complicated theoretical and methodological approach to spatial measures. Many designers or architects may not be prepared to try to understand the implications. Originality/value – At a general level there is little in the literature on the implications of plan form for the subjective experiences of people in buildings. At a specific level about privacy in wards, no evidence could be found that these systematic findings have been reported before.
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