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orientation

orientation, in architecture, the disposition of the parts of a building with reference to the points of the compass. From remote antiquity the traditional belief in the efficacy of religious ceremonials performed at dawn toward the rising sun has influenced the orientation of temples and other sacred structures. In Mesopotamia and Egypt, in Mayan Central America, even at Stonehenge in England, entrances and other important architectural features were designed to point toward the east; the temples of Greece and Rome often, though not invariably, faced the rising sun. In medieval Europe and, consequently, in modern Europe and the Americas, it became customary to have the congregation and the priest at the altar facing east. So strong was this custom that "west front" came to be a generic term for the facade of a church. Some churches were so built that a central line of the axis of the church pointed exactly to the rising sun on the day of the saint for whom the church was named. Such orientation was, however, by no means universal. St. Peter's at Rome, continuing an earlier tradition, faces in the opposite direction. Important secular buildings in the West often face toward the cardinal points of the compass, and the gridiron pattern of a city's streets is frequently so laid out. Practical problems also govern orientations. The disposition of a building in relation to the prevailing wind or to the sun has long been an important consideration in construction. Early commentators on the problem were Xenophon and Vitruvius. Examples of the concern for climatological orientation can be found in ancient Rome, where there were laws regarding the placement and heights of buildings, or in Puebla, Mexico, where in 1554 the streets were planned so that winds would not sweep through the city. Although orientation in accordance with climatic conditions was in many instances ignored in the 19th cent., modern architects have considered it and have tended to design their buildings accordingly.

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orientation

o·ri·en·ta·tion / ˌôrēənˈtāshən/ • n. the determination of the relative position of something or someone (esp. oneself): the child's surroundings provide clues to help in orientation. ∎  the relative physical position or direction of something: two complex shapes, presented in different orientations. ∎  Zool. an animal's change of position in response to an external stimulus, esp. with respect to compass directions. ∎  familiarization with something: their training and orientation comes out of magazine and newspaper distribution. ∎  a program of introduction for students new to a school or college: she attended freshman orientation. ∎  the direction of someone's interest or attitude, esp. political or sexual: a common age of consent regardless of gender or sexual orientation. DERIVATIVES: o·ri·en·ta·tion·al adj.

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orientation

orientation. Planning, siting, and arrangement of a building with reference to any special point of the compass, especially in relation to the rising and setting of the sun. It was significant in church architecture, where the altars were usually sited to the east. Churches arranged with the chancel not to the east are nevertheless described as though orientated correctly (liturgical orientation).

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orientation

orientation (or-i-en-tay-shŏn) n. (in psychology) awareness of oneself in time, space, and place. Orientation may be disturbed in such conditions as organic brain disease, toxic drug states, and concussion. See also reality orientation.

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orientation

orientation A change of position by an animal or plant in response to an external stimulus.

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orientation

orientation A change of position by an animal in response to an external stimulus.

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