Introduction: Today, the meaning of environment is one of the most important issues in urbanism and contemporary schools of thought have always sought to theorize the "nature of meaning and the process of its development" in urban spaces. The "post-positivism" approach with a collaborative and inter-subjective process and "post-structuralism" approach with an individual and pluralistic process in urban studies are among the effective and widely used approaches in this regard. It seems that these schools have shortcomings due to the lack of capacity to benefit from the initiatives of other scientific fields as well as a single-level view of meaning. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of urbanism, it seems necessary to use related sciences to the cognitive and perceptual structures of the individual to explain the process of meaning development in urban. Recent studies in the field of cognitive science propose the theory of "situated cognition" to explain the process of environmental perception. This theory describes meaning as an individual's cognitive interaction within situations. In response to the question, " What is the cognitive-cultural process of meaning formation in urban space and what are its achievements in comparison with other developmental approaches to meaning?", the purpose of this paper is to generalize the application of cognitive science concepts related to cognition of human and environment to the field of environmental studies, including urbanism and reduce the gap in the interdisciplinary theoretical studies of these two fields.
Methodology: The research method in this article is a comparative- analytical method that is done by explaining the position of cognitive-cultural approach in comparison with post-positivist and post-structuralist approaches in the field of urban studies. First, post-positivist and post-structuralist approaches are presented as comprehensive and widely used developmental approaches in studying the meaning of the environment in urbanism. Then, the theory of situated cognition and its relationship with culture is examined in urban meaning formation. In the following, by generalizing the theory of situated cognition to the field of urbanism, the cognitive-cultural approach is introduced as a new approach to the study of meaning development in urban spaces. And finally, by comparing the meaning developmental process in each of the approaches, the position of the cognitive-cultural approach is inferred and analyzed in the field of urbanism.
Results: In line with explaining the meaning developmental process in urban studies with a cognitive-cultural approach, the affordances that shape human behavior can be described as "cognitive-cultural affordances". Based on this, it can be said that an individual interacts with the urban space by identifying the cognitive-cultural affordances hidden in it. In this interaction, urban space with cognitive-cultural affordances is considered as a platform for discovering the meanings of environment. People dependent on their cognitive-cultural experience of the urban space and through cultural mentality (at the pervasive level) and cultural procedures (at the specific level) perceive and identify these spatial meanings. In this way, new situated meanings are reproduced by available and accessible knowledge at two specific and pervasive levels.
Discussion: In the ontology of the meaning development in urbanism, urban spaces are meaningful constructs that in the approach of post-positivism are epistemologically reproduced with inter-subjective mentality and in interaction with physical structures, but in the approach of post-structuralism they are represented with individual mentality and in the form of social structures. According to the cognitive-cultural approach, meaning is simultaneously reproduced on pervasive level with cultural mentality and on a specific level with cultural practices.
In post-positivist approach, the factors of the meaning development in urban spaces are physical characteristics, socio-cultural contexts and the way of applying meaning in a specific situation. In post-structuralist approach, these factors are physical structures, social structures and the way of abstraction of meaning in a specific situation. In other words, in these two approaches, an individual is a human being with cultural and social contexts, who interprets the meanings of the urban space and produces mental meanings through his/her mindset. While in the cognitive-cultural approach, the cognitive-cultural affordances of the urban space, the cognitive-cultural experience from the urban space and the way of availability/accessibility in a specific situation are the factors of meaning development. In other words, this approach examines the traces of culture both in the environment and in humans.
Conclusion: The main achievement of this research is to explain the cognitive-cultural approach as a new approach in interdisciplinary studies of urbanism. This approach has penetrated into the cultural dimensions of life by presenting a comprehensive concept of affordances in urban spaces under the title of "cognitive-cultural affordances". By presenting a multi-level definition of the contextual learning and transferring process of cognitive-cultural affordances in the city, it provides the possibility of a comprehensive and systematic understanding of human mental processes in connection with the urban space in long-term and short-term dynamic interactions. The proposed cognitive-cultural approach of the research with a multilevel and situational view of meaning, covers the shortcomings of previous approaches in urban studies such as a single-level view of meaning and introduces urbanism as situated cultural knowledge. In this way, it provides the possibility of a comprehensive and systematic understanding of human mental processes in relation to the urban space and leads to the creation of efficient urban spaces in accordance with the needs of the citizens at a higher level.