Przedmiotem analizy są wybrane elementy środowiska zbudowanego, które - głównie na skutek określonych decyzji i wyborów architekta - stają się stresorami. Dotyczy to struktur architektonicznych oraz planów zagospodarowania przestrzeni niezgodnych z biologicznymi mechanizmami zachowań oraz kulturowymi wzorcami użytkowania przestrzeni. Niedostosowanie rozwiązań do cech i potrzeb ludzkiego organizmu, poziomu sprawności i zdolności percepcyjnych wyzwala poczucie zagrożenia, dyskomfortu fizycznego i psychicznego, ogranicza swobodę i mobilność przestrzenną człowieka. Z tych samych względów stresorem może być także obecność innych osób w przestrzeni, jeśli stanowi ingerencję w nieformalną strukturę dystansów proksemicznych, narusza akceptowany system norm i wzorców zachowań, ingeruje w sferę życia prywatnego itp. W końcu przedmiotem badań są te miejsca (przestrzenie ucieczkowe i opresyjne), które ze względu na kumulację przestrzennych i społecznych stresorów można zaliczyć do kategorii patologii środowiska zbudowanego.
Architecture is a form of human being cultural adaptation to life in natural and social environment. It is an art and a capability to shape the structure of barriers and spatial distances, which protect humans against unfavourable influence of environment, compensate for their biological deficits, and regulate the character and intensity of contacts with other concurrent users. Faults in the arrangement of space, functional-spatial arrangements and development plans often result in humans facing excessively high adaptive requirements. They become a cause of stress reactions, a feeling of discomfort and a threat to health and life. Stressing situations arise as a result of faulty structure of barriers and spatial distances having been created, which is incompatible with: genetic conditioning of human nature, physiological limitations of human organism as far as perception and capabilities are concerned, proxemic models of spatial behaviour, cultural models of space usage and social relations development. Sociobiology proves that humans have embedded, genetically programmed biological dispositions and an evolutionally selected repertoire of needs, inclinations and behaviours. A hypertrophy of human nature features are such behaviours as: territorialism, attachment to land of childhood, division into friends and strangers, and religion (sacralisation of environment and human life). The models of spatial environment shaped in conflict with those dispositions either contribute to destabilisation and degeneration of spatial behaviour culture, or are themselves adapted or replaced. Ergonomics allow for elimination of only those elements of physical environment, which are not adapted to the features of humans' organic space and their ability to perceive stimuli and information which are important for health and life. Proxemics introduce into the design the knowledge about micro-cultural models of spatial behaviour, with the meaning brought by spatial dissonances to social contacts. These models define the limits of human private and public spaces. The axiology of spatial behaviour by architecture users is focused on satisfying the needs of safety and personal freedom. These two values are equally valuable, but divergent. The need to have an own, safe shelter is accompanied by the need to live actively in an open environment, in the space without borders and barriers. Observations of different types of user intervention within the structure of objects and also the scope of character change in the arrangement and usage of space indicate that those needs are not fulfilled. The problem of living in architecture is also connected with the insufficiently fulfilled security needs. Built-up environement do not provide acceptable standards in the protection and defense against social life burdens, danger and pathology. An architect's duty is to distinguish the stressors which can be associated with architectural design and urban planning or in the structure of barriers and spatial distances which can, in consequence, have a negative influence on the users' perception of other people's presence and behavior. Social stressors can be intensified by the effects of spatial stressors. Stressors may include the following: openness of space, which can eliminate the protective function of architectural barriers; enclosed space which can isolate excessively and reduce the contact with someone's surroundings; inaccessible space which can segregate users in a repressive way; accessible space which does not protect against undesirable contact; confined space which can result in the inaccurate measurement of the number of users; overcrowded space connected with the deprivation of emotional comfort in social situations; closeness of structural elements in space, which causes an inconvenience for working objects; complexity and maze-like characteristics of space; monotony and emptiness in spatial arrangement, resulting in an individual's bewilderment or becoming lost in a built-up environement. Concentrations of stressors are connected with the common occurrence of spatial pathology in built-up environement. Exemplifications include passageways and evacuation zones. As far as behavior is concerned, they are the weakest example and yet important at the same time. In these spaces the process of degeneration of urban environment begins early, although their only functions are to direct mobility. They create favorable circumstances for rising crime and various kinds of social pathology. The ergonomic criteria for architectural space identification are the kinetic parameters of the human body and human vision. The arrangement of barriers and spatial distances, which encroaches human organic border is the stressor as well as the one which exposes humans to being in direct contact with building partitions. The former results in a willingness to escape, the latter becomes a trap, labyrinth or "no way out". A situation of oppression is connected with the invasion against human body, its integrity and dignity, physical pressure, or with blocking the freedom of mobility. Proxemics introduces the criteria of informal distances, which are kept by people unconsciously, while moving or passing by each other in passageways. The width of communicative spaces should take into account a potentially dangerous situation involving two strangers having a close encounter in conditions that are conducive to criminal behaviours i.e. at night, or in dark, empty, narrow or commonly accessible spaces. The width of comfortable and safe pedestrian paths will be different in private or public spaces. They are different behavioral spaces, having their own distinctive levels for causing stress. Reaction to existing stressors and pathological spaces within our environment are the self-defensive acts of architecture's users. Their aim is to intensify an informal space ownership and to raise passive safety standards (mental in everyday contact with others and/or active behavior in a dangerous situation). Among these acts there are not only different types of control, but also the aesthetic taming and cleaning of collective spaces. In areas with intensive housing development, especially those with numerous apartment buildings, inhabitants have a basic pattern of defensive behavior, namely modifications (rearrangement) of existing barriers and spatial distances. They consist of the reinforcement of isolating or defensive barrier function (i.e. partitions, building holes, borders) and in the extension of private territory through the appropriation of communal spaces, or in having indefinite territory status. On the one hand, these acts compensate for a lack of proper distance between private and public territories and on the other hand, through the isolation of intermediate half-private and half-public spaces, they compensate through lower isolation of territorial borders, holes and architectural barriers. These modifications also imply that the accessibility of space becomes limited and that undesirable social contact will be less frequent. Safety standards are becoming the criteria for social and economic stratification of built-up environement. A town today is divided into enclaves of safe, comfortable life and districts of poverty, which are technologically degraded and threatened by social pathologies. The architect's duty is to realize the standards for safe buildings, estates and towns, above all by focusing attention on self-defensive features of architectural spaces. This problem is connected with both the axiology and methodology of design, in which the contemporary and dominant strategies of spatial mobility (the accessibility and openness of space) should be counterbalanced by using certain strategies for creating safe, healthy and user-friendly surroundings.