The Role of Sense of Belonging to the Architectural Symbolic Elements on Promoting Social Participation in Students within Educational Settings

Document Type : Original Article


1 The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, Institute of Urban Development, East China Normal University, 200062, China.

2 Department of Architecture, Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research (ACECR), Rasht, Iran.

3 Department of Architecture, Rasht Branch, Islamic Azad University, Rasht, Iran.


Nowadays, due to the ever growing number of universities and institutions for higher education in recent years, the social requirements of students have not been adequately addressed; and in many cases, residential buildings, have been converted into higher education institutions regardless of the social demands of students. Therefore, social participation, as one of the fundamental principles of solidarity and social interactions, has largely been neglected, which will have negative consequences such as decreased efficiency and learning among students. This study attempts to investigate the role of sense of belonging to the symbolic architectural elements on promoting the social participation of architecture students within educational settings. Accordingly, it was intended to utilize a combination of syntactical analysis, the empirical observation of student activities on campus, and semi-structured interview to estimate the role of intervening variables such as sense of belonging to the symbolic architectural elements in promoting students' social participation. The findings of this study indicate that in most of the studied cases, the students' sociability level for social participation is in accordance with the integration value of their spatial configuration. However, the conducted field observations revealed that some spaces, despite having a low degree of integration due to the presence of specific symbolic architectural elements, encouraged the formation of attractive crowded student communities. Also, such symbolic architectural elements can have an indirect influence on the students’ social participation within the campus through stimulating their sense of belonging. The implication of this study highlights the importance of on-campus teaching systems.


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