Prospect-Refuge Theory

Prospect-Refuge Theory

Prospect-Refuge Theory is the theory that humans have an innate desire to be in spaces where there is opportunity (prospect) and safety (refuge). The theory was developed by English human geographer, Jay Appleton, in 1975. Examples of a prospect could be large natural wonders such as mountains, lakes and oceans. Examples of a refuge could be a bench with a wall behind, an interior space that is closed off. This is why in large open spaces, people will often gravitate to the outer perimeters, so that they can both survey the space and feel safe with a wall or fence behind them. According to Prospect-Refuge Theory, evolution has adapted us to feel safe and calm in environments in which our ancestors could discover opportunities (prospect) and find shelter (refuge). These spaces typically involved trees, which provide both a vantage point and hiding place, while affirming the land’s fertility.

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