In several countries the period after World War II is characterized by building dwellings in mass production in order to bring the supply in line with the increasing housing demand. As a result little attention was paid to societal trends and actual user wants. Several trends and developments with respect to housing have been identified since then, which seem to make a more individualized approach to the development, design and building of dwellings and residential environments desirable. In such an approach a thorough understanding of the objectives and activities of inhabitants seems to be required. But how can we explore these objectives and activities? We lack a structured set of instruments that can be used by policy makers, architects, developers and builders to map out a detailed record of user wants. Although there are many methods for the elicitation of housing preferences these methods are not satisfactory for this purpose, because, among others, they focus on what people want and not on why they want it. In this paper I shall first describe the main characteristics of methods for measuring stated housing preferences. Subsequently, I will present an outline of a more user-oriented approach to the measurement of housing preferences. This approach is based on Gibson’s theory of affordances.
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