Definitions of environmental child friendliness offer broad criteria that are not easy to study or assess. We suggest that due to this broadness, these definitions have produced surprisingly few attempts to evaluate how child-friendly various types of physical environments are. The purpose of this study is to analyse how the structure of the built environment contributes to environmental child friendliness. We define child friendliness by two central criteria: children’s possibilities for independent mobility and their opportunities to actualize environmental affordances. We study how built environment qualities condition environmental child friendliness in place-based ways by asking children and youth in Turku, Finland, to tell about their meaningful places and their mobility to these. The data consists of over 12,000 affordances, localized by the respondents. This experiential and behavioural place-based knowledge is combined with objectively measured data on residential and building density, and quantity of green structures. Moderate urban density seems to have child-friendly characteristics such as an ability to promote independent access to meaningful places and the diversity of affordances. We find that affordances situated on residential areas are likely to be reached alone, whereas access to affordances situated in densely built urban cores is less independent. The proportion of green structures is not associated with independent access. The diversity of affordances is highest in areas that are densely populated and not very green. Green areas are important settings for doing things, and green structures around emotional affordances increase the likelihood of liking the place significantly. Combining children’s place-based experiences with information derived from objective measurable qualities of the physical environment provides a valuable methodological contribution to studies on environmental child friendliness, and the two proposed criteria of child friendliness are supported by this study. There is no one environment that is child-friendly, but different environments have different uses and meanings.
Richard G. Davies, Olga Barbosa, Nicholas Burke, Richard A. Fuller, Kevin J. Gaston, Daniel Lewis, Jamie Tratalos & Philip H. Warren
The growing proportion of human populations living in urban areas, and consequent trends of increasing urban expansion and densification fuel a need to understand how urban form and land use affect environmental quality, including the availability of urban green spaces. Here we use Sheffield as a case study of city-wide relationships between urban green space extent, quality (vegetation cover and tree-cover), and gradients in urban form and topography. The total area of buildings and length of the road network are equally strong negative predictors of extent of green space, while the former predictor is amore important negative influence upon green space quality. Elevation positively influences extent of green space but negatively influences tree-cover. In contrast, slope of terrain positively influences green space quality and is the best predictor of tree-cover. Overall housing density is a more important negative predictor of extent of green space and tree-cover than the densities of individual housing types. Nevertheless, the latter are more important influences upon levels of vegetation cover. Threshold effects of densities of different housing types suggest opportunities for optimising green space quality, with implications for housing policy. Variation in ecological quality of green space may partly reflect different historical intensities of industrial activity.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (2013)
Yang, B., Li, S., Elder, B. R., & Wang, Z.
This study compares community-park design and residents' perceptions of safety in two subdivision communities in The Woodlands, Texas. The communities were built following two different planning approaches—the ecological approach and the conventional approach. Surveys have shown that residents generally feel safer in community parks built according to the latter approach. Using landscape metrics and home-to-park proximity indicators, we examine how different planning approaches affect park design and, as a result, influence residents' perceptions of safety. We cross-validated the results with survey studies conducted over several years. The study findings suggest that park location, spatial configuration of woody vegetation, and management of understory can be important design considerations that impact residents' perceived levels of safety. Park designers and managers should also consider providing parks that meet diverse needs and balance the requirements of ecological preservation, aesthetics, and cultural preference.
Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C., Coley, R.L., Brunson, L.
Research suggests that the formation of neighborhood social ties (NSTs) may substantially depend on the informal social contact which occurs in neighbor- hood common spaces, and that in inner-city neighborhoods where common spaces are often barren no-man's lands, the presence of trees and grass supports common space use and informal social contact among neighbors. We found that for 145 urban public housing residents randomly assigned to 18 architec- turally identical buildings, levels of vegetation in common spaces predict both use of common spaces and NSTs; further, use of common spaces mediated the relationship between vegetation and NSTS. In addition, vegetation and NSTs were significantly related to residents' senses of safety and adjustment. These findings suggest that the use and characteristics of common spaces may play a vital role in the natural growth of community, and that improving com- mon spaces may be an especially productive focus for community organizing efforts in inner-city neighborhoods.
Taylor, A. F., Wiley, A., Kuo, F. E., & Sullivan, W. C.
Children growing up in the inner city are at risk for a range of negative developmental outcomes. Do barren, inner-city neighborhood spaces compromise the everyday activities and experiences necessary for healthy development? Sixty-four urban public housing outdoor spaces (27 low vegetation, 37 high vegetation) were observed on four separate occasions. Overall, inner-city children's everyday activities and access to adults appeared remarkably healthy; of the 262 children observed, most (73%) were involved in some type of play, and most groups of children (87%) were supervised to some degree. In relatively barren spaces, however, the picture was considerably less optimistic: Levels of play and access to adults were approximately half as much as those found in spaces with more trees and grass, and the incidence of creative play was significantly lower in barren spaces than in relatively green spaces
“Sense of place” is a widely discussed concept in fields as diverse as geography, environmental psychology, and art, but it has little traction in the field of public health. The health impact of place includes physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and aesthetic outcomes. In this article, the author introduces a sense of place as a public health construct. While many recommendations for “good places” are available, few are based on empirical evidence, and thus they are incompatible with current public health practice. Evidence-based recommendations for healthy placemaking could have important public health implications. Four aspects of the built environment, at different spatial scales—nature contact, buildings, public spaces, and urban form—are identified as offering promising opportunities for public health research, and potential research agendas for each are discussed.
While the age of physical environments is the central tenet of historic preservation, there is a lack of empirical evidence about how everyday people actually value, perceive, and experience age as an intrinsic part of an urban environment. In order to ameliorate this knowledge deficit, this study employs phenomenology to understand the lived experience of being in a “new” versus an “old” or “historic” urban residential environment. The new environment is the I’On new urbanist development in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, and the old environment is the location of the United States’ first historic district in Charleston, South Carolina. These locations are approximately within five miles of each other. In both places, the physical characteristics of the built environment are remarkably similar in density, form, layout, and design, but the age is dramatically different. Through photo elicitation techniques and interviews, the results of this study reveal that residents of historic Charleston and I’On value their built environments in remarkably similar ways. Surprisingly, elements that evoke a strong sense of attachment tend to be landscape features, such as gates, fountains, trees, and gardens rather than buildings. The informants valued the “mystery” that they felt was part of the landscape and which consisted of layered elements such as fences, gates, and paths, such that these features (including buildings) had to be “discovered.” Lastly, the informants strongly valued landscapes that showed “people care” through regular maintenance. The essential difference in people’s experience and valuation of the new environment (I’On) and the old environment (historic Charleston) is in the older environment’s ability to instill creative fantasies in the minds of the informants based on a hypothetical past of their own creation. The informants in I’On did not share these kinds of meanings.
The natural environment contributes to human wellbeing in a variety of ways, including providing outdoor recreation venues and underpinning cultural practices. Understanding whether the diversity of human-nature experiences significantly relate to overall subjective wellbeing, however, is rarely explored. Using results from 4418 respondents to an online survey conducted in Washington's Puget Sound region, we describe the relationship between overall life satisfaction and diverse metrics of how people engage with the natural environment. We found that eleven of the thirteen tested metrics had a small but positive correlation to overall life satisfaction and specific groupings of environment-specific social indicators were internally reliable constructs that predicted life satisfaction. These included: Sense of Place, Outdoor Activities, Good Governance, Social and Cultural Activities, Psychological Well- being, and Resource Access. This research empirically demonstrates that a variety of mechanisms for engaging the natural environment significantly contribute to overall subjective wellbeing.
Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability (2015)
Landscape urbanism is articulated against the purported failures of traditional urban design practices to conceptualize adequately the transience, adaptability, and ecological complexity demanded by contemporary urbanism. This paper engages Giambattista Nolli’s 1748 map of Rome, a seminal example of the figure ground representational method, to highlight some contradictions in landscape urbanism’s texts and projects. Whereas the figure ground is often reduced to a binary black and white image, Nolli’s map illustrates the intertwining of public and private spaces, through rendering detailed attributes of site, infrastructure, history, and architecture. Also considered is the asser- tive restructuring of disciplinary influence within what Linda Pollak identifies as ‘con- structed ground.’ This reclamation constitutes a re-territorializing of landscape architecture through re-engagement of the urban fabric, as well as the more aspirational and necessary re-territorializing of design through intentional consideration of ecological complexity in the making of public urban spaces.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (2013)
Weinreb, A. R., & Rofè, Y.
Feeling maps survey and map people's emotional responses to their environment as they walk through the streets of a particular urban area. This study describes the first application of feeling maps in long-term, ethnographic field research. It was conducted in Mitzpe Ramon, a small town in Israel's Negev Desert Highlands. Over the course of one year, an ethnographer individually accompanied 55 participants with diverse social characteristics on a set of seven walking routes. These routes included neighborhood spaces, open public spaces, and at least one view of the surrounding natural desert landscape. The locations where between two and seven participants spontaneously reported experiencing strong feelings (positive, negative, or mixed) based on a numerical rating scale and open-ended narration were identified as "affective clusters." Results suggest that people's shared feelings about specific places are influenced by the particular physical properties and characteristics of a given place. Making a contribution to cognitive mapping and environmental preference techniques, feeling maps enable researchers to share a participant's position and views of the landscape as he or she articulates emotions and memories related to those views. Replicable in any setting, this technique could be used to create and maintain spaces that are attractive, inviting, and emotionally pleasing variety of users.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (1985)
The importance of the nearby natural environment was studied in the context of multiple-family housing. Residents at nine sites responded to a questionnaire about the kinds of natural areas near their home and the perceived adequacy of these facilities. While the nearby environment is often relegated to the category of "amenity," the findings suggest that the availability and adequacy of nearby natural elements is of far greater significance than such a characterization implies. Furthermore, different aspects of the natural environment need to be distinguished. Large open spaces, for example, played a minor role, at best, in residents' ratings of satisfaction with various aspects of the neighborhood. Opportunities to grow plants, by contrast, were significantly related to the sense of community. The most important factors in neighborhood satisfaction, however, were the availability of nearby trees, well-landscaped grounds, and places for taking walks. The data suggest that some of the psychological satisfactions traditionally associated with home ownership may be achieved even in the multiple-family housing context through the effective use of the natural environment.
James E. Dills, Karen G. Mumford & Candace D. Rutt
Many people fail to achieve recommended levels of physical activity. Neighborhood parks serve as locations in which physical activity often occurs, and walking to parks provides added opportunity for leisure-time activity. The authors examine environmental characteristics of shortest pedestrian routes to parks to determine how route walkability affects park use. Using an objective environmental audit, the authors found that routes of park users were measurably more walkable than those of nonpark users and that each unit increase in total walkability score associated with a 20% increase in the likelihood of walking to the park, controlling for education and route length (odds ratio = 1.20; 95% confidence interval = [1.07, 1.34]). The most significant elements measured in- cluded route distance, traffic, neighborhood maintenance, street maintenance, safety, and aesthetics. Pedestrian scale environmental characteristics are associated with individuals’ use of neighborhoods for physical activity. Understanding these relationships can contribute to evidence-based design interventions to increase physical activity.
Jacquelin Burgess, Carolyn M. Harrison & Melanie Limb
Contemporary provision of open spaces within cities rests largely on professional assumptions about its significance in the lives of residents. This paper presents results from the Greenwich Open Space Project which used qualitative research with four, in-depth discussion groups to determine the design of a questionnaire survey of households in the borough. The research shows that the most highly valued open spaces are those which enhance the positive qualities of urban life: variety of opportunities and physical settings; sociability and cultural diversity. The findings lend some support to the approach of the urban conservation movement but present a fundamental challenge to the open-space hierarchy embodied in the Greater London Development Plan. The Project identifies a great need for diversity of both natural settings and social facilities within local areas and highlights the potential of urban green space to improve the quality of life of all citizens.
The paper begins by reviewing the discourses of sustainable development and children's rights, before mapping-out their significance to play and playgrounds. The paper then draws on fieldwork conducted in two case study communities in Wales to investigate the spatial and social places of play. The paper concludes by questioning the sustainability of playgrounds and by urging reconsideration of the role of playgrounds in the built environment.
The promotion of quality of life is becoming ever more important in a scenario of regional, national and even international competition among cities, triggered by globalization. Public sites, and green spaces in particular, which are available in varying extent in all urban areas, can bring important benefits to urban vitality and, as a consequence, to quality of life. However, cities are intricate entities and measuring their success in converting the potential for public green space usage into increased quality of life is a difficult task. In order to contribute to the objective of assessing the potential for public green space use, and its consequences on urban vitality, we applied the Data Envelopment Analysis technique to assess a total of 174 European cities. The results detect the best performing cities, and for the cities considered inefficient, a set of benchmarks is identified, whose best practices can be copied to support efforts of performance improvement.
The article focuses on public open space (POS) in small Slovenian cities. It highlights the importance of planning and designing high-quality, diverse POSs, which contribute to the quality of life and urban development in cities. POS is seen as a key physical element of a city and is defined as a non-built urban space that is, under equal terms, accessible to all. The article focuses on both green areas and civic space. Results derive from a physical analysis and survey conducted during research for a doctoral dissertation. Ten small Slovenian cities are selected, where detailed physical analysis and surveys were carried out. Designing high-quality POS for everyday activities is highlighted. The results show that the inhabitants most frequently use POS when going about their everyday business. The article highlights the importance of designing various types of POS for urban development of cities.
C. Scott Shafer, John Baker, David Scott & Kirk Winemiller
‘Green infrastructure’ is a term used to describe systems of parks, greenways, open spaces and other natural landscape elements that provide community benefits. Although we have some understanding of how people use parks and developed greenways, little has been documented about use of the undesignated public and private spaces along green infrastructure features such as stream corridors. The purpose of this research was to examine characteristics that may influence people’s use of undesignated open spaces along the stream corridors that form the skeleton of many green infrastructure systems. Data were obtained from a Recreational Use Attainability Analysis (RUAA), an evaluation performed for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The RUAA was conducted for 85 survey sites along 243 km (151 miles) of streams in Houston’s Buffalo Bayou watershed. Results indicate that the proximity of stream corridors to local residents, the level of pedestrian access available and tree cover were the best predictors of recreational use while the presence of water, fish or other wildlife were not significant predictors. Observations also indicated that urban and suburban stream corridors afford a variety of recreational and aesthetic values to residents. Implications for policy, planning and design of green infrastructure are discussed.
Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability (2016)
Hélène Littke, Tigran Haas & Ryan Locke
The popularity and impact of the High Line in New York mirrors the complex reality of contemporary provision of public space. The development of the project, its relation- ship to its surroundings and the evolving trend of elevated parks are analyzed in relation to the role of urban green space and impacts of Landscape Urbanism. The High Line shows the way to a new role for urban green space by utilizing aban- doned infrastructure. In analysing the narrative of the High Line, this article stresses the importance of understanding localities and connectivity. Based on observations as well as a review of the literature and media, the article concludes that great landscaping does not create great places without careful consideration of the surrounding commu- nity and residents.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (1987)
Talbot, Janet Frey, Bardwell, Lisa V., & Kaplan, Rachel
Uses and perceptions of nine nearby, easily-accessible outdoor areas were studied by interviewing 89 residents of a multiple-family housing development. Judgments of perceived sizes, size adequacy, use frequencies, preferences, and perceived importance were elicited, along with descriptions of personal uses. The findings reveal consistent differences between three general types of areas which serve distinct functions. The yards serve territorial needs, the common areas and public athletic fields afford recreational opportunities, and a nearby wooded area with a pond provides a highly preferred setting for a variety of nature-related pursuits. Although most ratings varied across the different types, ratings of perceived importance were high for each. The findings of this study clarify the relationships among physical size, use patterns and preferences for different areas. They also illustrate the diverse affordances of different urban nature areas, and emphasize the important role that nature contacts play in the everyday lives of urban residents.
This article provides a sociological explanation for urban “greening,” the normative practice of using everyday signifiers of nature to fix problems with urbanism. Although greening is commonly understood as a reaction against the pathologies of the industrial metropolis, such explanations cannot account for greening’s recurrence across varied social and historical contexts. Through a study of greening in Germany’s Ruhr region, a polycentric urban region that has repeatedly greened in the absence of a traditional city, I argue that greening is made possible by a social imaginary of nature as an indirect or moral good, which I call urbanized nature, that is an outcome of, and subsequently becomes a variable in, urbanization. I draw on processual accounts of urbanization and the sociology of morality to explain urbanized nature’s emergence in the Ruhr at the beginning of the twentieth century, and its use to fulfill two competing visions of urban democracy in the postwar period. I find that rather than an ideological reaction against cities, greening is an aspirational practice that can be mobilized by a range of actors in a variety of places and times. By showing how a new social imaginary made new forms of moral action possible and how those ideals were then materialized in urban space, this article draws attention to the role of cultural imaginaries in urban change and to the material consequences of moral beliefs.
Neighbourhoods may influence the health of individual residents in different ways: via the social and physical environment, as well as through facilities and services. Not all factors may be equally important for all population subgroups. A cross-sectional analysis of the Scottish Household Survey 2001 examined a range of neighbourhood factors for links with three health outcomes and two health-related behaviours. The results support the hypothesis that the neighbourhood has a multi-dimensional impact on health. There was also some evidence that the relationship between neighbourhood factors and health varied according to the population subgroup, although not in a consistent manner.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (2016)
Mohd Yusof, Mohd Johari, & Rakhshandehroo, Mehdi
As Malaysia's population continues to grow and becomes more concentrated in urban areas, the important benefits of urban green spaces to the environment, the economy, and the health and well-being of city residents become even more significant in counterbalancing some of the negative effects of the country's urban development. With this concern in mind, the authors designed a social survey for urban planners and landscape architects in Kuala Lumpur to identify and study their views on the nature, roles, and benefits of urban green spaces; the problems associated with protecting urban green spaces in Kuala Lumpur; and the attributes of green spaces they thought were most important when considering how much priority a particular green space should be given for preservation. Kuala Lumpur provides a particularly interesting case study as a rapidly growing city in a developing country with a tropical climate - a context in which there has been relatively little research on urban green space, despite the importance of shade in very hot climates. In addition, Kuala Lumpur has experienced a great loss of green space in recent decades, both on its periphery from urban expansion and around the city center from the drive (fueled by economic growth) to use central land more intensively.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (1993)
Peiser, Richard B., & Schwann, Gregory M.
Since the early 1900's when internal open spaces became common features of English new towns and American subdivisions patterned after Radburn, planners have assumed that internal parks are desirable features in subdivision planning. However, developers in the United States have in general failed to include open spaces within new subdivisions, thus raising questions about their real economic benefits. This paper examines those benefits within the context of a Radburn-style subdivision in Dallas. Using survey and sales data, the results indicate that homeowners value the open space - both those who live directly on the internal greenbelts and those who do not. However, where the open space causes a reduction in private backyard space, homeowners do not appear to value public open space as highly as private space.
The city is part of nature, a fact that has profound implications for how cities are designed, built, and managed For centuries, city designers have exploited nature to promote human purposes The roots of this tradition are as diverse as the many ways in which nature contributes to human health, safety, and welfare An overview of that tradition is outlined here, along with an assessment of existing knowledge and prospects for city design
Rioux, L., Werner, C. M., Mokounkolo, R., & Brown, B. B.
Research indicates that people are drawn to green spaces with attractive amenities. This study extends that finding by comparing walking patterns in two neighborhoods with different numbers of parks; parks did not differ in rated attractiveness nor did neighborhoods differ substantially in rated walkability. Adults, aged 32e86 years (n 1⁄4 90), drew their 3 most recent walking routes on maps of their neighborhood. Analyses showed that participants’ round trips were longer by 265.5 m (0.16 mile) in the neighborhood with a single, large, centrally located park (p < 0.02). However, participants in the neighborhood with multiple, small, more distributed parks, visited more streets, p < 0.001, more streets with green spaces, p < 0.038, and used more varied routes, p < 0.012. Results suggest there are potential benefits to both layouts. Large centralized parks may invite longer walks; smaller, well-distributed parks may invite more varied routes suggestive of appropriation and motivation processes. Both layouts might be combined in a single neighborhood to attract more walkers.
Rebekah Levine Coley, Frances E. Kuo & William C. Sullivan
This study examines how the availability of nature influences the use of outdoor public spaces in two Chicago public housing developments. Ninety-six observations were collected of the presence and location of trees and the presence and location of youth and adults in semiprivate spaces at one high-rise and one low-rise public housing development. Results consistently indicated that natural landscaping encourages greater use of outdoor areas by residents. Spaces with trees attracted larger groups of people, as well as more mixed groups of youth and adults, than did spaces devoid of nature. In addition, more dense groupings of trees and trees that are located close to public housing buildings attracted larger groups of people. These findings suggest that natural elements such as trees promote increased opportunities for social interactions, monitoring of outdoor areas, and supervision of children in impoverished urban neighborhoods.
Records on recovery after cholecystectomy of patients in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital between 1972 and 1981 were examined to determine whether assignment to a room with a window view of a natural setting might have restorative influences. Twenty-three surgical patients assigned to rooms with windows looking out on a natural scene had shorter postoperative hospital stays, received fewer negative evaluative comments in nurses' notes, and took fewer potent analgesics than 23 matched patients in similar rooms with windows facing a brick building wall.