With the sheer complexity of the built environment, understanding the aspects of the building that directly impact the occupants can be prohibitively difficult. Previous methods have been largely split between low-number, high-detail methods (photo-surveys or interviews), or high-number, low-detail methods (questionnaires). This study presents an alternative to these methods; creating an online tool that represents a navigable building, enabling the occupants to freely identify any aspect of the building that they feel is important. This online tool deliberately works in a manner similar to Google Street View, taking advantage of this familiarity to reduce the learning curve and maximise immersion. Using spherical images captured with a special camera or martphone, each space in the building is captured and then uploaded into the online tool. Whilst in the online version of their building, the respondent can navigate through the building, make unguided comments about any part of the building.
Using this tool, four recently built secondary schools were imaged and online versions created. In each school, students from three ICT lessons aged between 11 and 14 explored the online version of their school and marked parts of the building that were important to them. The students were asked to follow a typical day in the school, moving from lesson to lesson and to the spaces they use at breaks. The tool collected both the movement data and the comments, allowing analysis of not just the occupant attitudes, but also the route the students take through the building. The movement data for each school was compared to the visual graph analysis of the building, showing that the movement of the students within the tool resembles patterns seen elsewhere; configurational logic with attractors. The rich data that is generated in parallel with the movement data allowed insights into the way in which the students moved through the space and what was important to them.