Suppose I was walking through a maze-like building complex, I might say, "The _____ of this place is confounding."

I'm looking for that word. "Geography" doesn't feel right to me since it usually refers to natural spaces. Maybe you can refer to the geography of a city (still sounds a little weird), but of a single building?

I've had two suggestions so far, neither of which I like so much.

  1. "Layout" - this one is close to what I'm talking about, but it's more concrete than I want. When you talk about the layout of a space, you are referring to the relative placement of different elements in that very space. I need something more lofty; something that suggests some kind of conceptual context. I want to draw all of the listener's past experiences in layouts of spaces into her current experience of this one.
  2. "(Urban) design" - this one has that conceptual context, but not in the direction that I want. When you refer to the design of the space you draw the listener's understanding of the humans behind the space into their experience of the space itself. The conceptual context is the intentionality, unintentionality, and interplay of designs within the process of the space's creation. I'm not interested in that process, only the experience of a person in the space, now.

I understand that what I'm looking for is very specific, and it likely does not exist, but maybe it does. Maybe you know this word, or maybe I need to make it up.


3 Answers 3


How about this: The architecture of this place is confounding.

IMHO, architecture is a concept that includes anything about human-made structures, from placement of walls and furniture to the color of the carpets and means the process of planning and creating those structures as well as their current state.



Oxford Languages describes it as below:

noun: topography

the arrangement of the natural and artificial physical features of an area.

"the topography of the island"

Although it is worth mentioning that even though it has technical connotations in Geography, I think it may be suited to your requirements.


Urban Geography

Since much urban growth, especially in earlier times, follows no discernible plan, the term urban geography has emerged to denote the study of urban spaces, both natural and human-made.

The book also focuses on such topics as the locations, spacing, and size of urban settlements. A section of the book discusses the characteristics of capital cities like the city of London. — James H. Johnson, ‎W. B. Fisher, Urban Geography: An Introductory Analysis, 2013.

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