Use of Natural Environments by Urban Residents: The Effects of Natural Elements on Residents' Outdoor Behaviors

Lee, Hyunjung, Min, Byungho, & Ohno, Ryuzo

Lee, H., Min, B., & Ohno, R. (2012). USE OF NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS BY URBAN RESIDENTS: THE EFFECTS OF NATURAL ELEMENTS ON RESIDENTS' OUTDOOR BEHAVIORS. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research,29(3), 204-223.


This study strives to determine ways to increase the use of outdoor spaces, particularly spaces that have an abundance of natural elements, in environmentally friendly housing developments. Empirical data were obtained by observing residents' behaviors (445 observations) and interviewing 61 residents in Kuemhwa Greenvill, a new housing project in Giheung Sanggal, South Korea. The outdoor natural environments were classified into four categories: reserved natural environment, built environment with a natural appearance, built environment as a green buffer, and built environment with natural elements. The survey revealed that, typically, the natural environments were utilized less than the non-natural environments. Because natural environments did not support various outdoor activities, only persons in certain limited age groups (adults and adults with children) and small groups of one or two people used them. In particular, children's play activities and social gatherings rarely occurred in the natural environments. Apart from physical, psychological, and social accessibility issues, the residents' preferences for the use of non-natural environments were related to their needs and the physical features of the environments.

Main finding
This research found that residents in the study area prefered non-natural environments to natural environments, especially for children's and social activities. The residents prefered the non-natural environments because of their physical features and issues concerning physical, psychological and social accessibility related to choice, design intention, cognition and maintenance. The authors suggest that natural environments should be planned in close proximity to daily activities, eliminate physical and psychological barriers and improve cognitive and social accessibility.

Description of method used in the article
The research site was a recent suburban housing development in outside Seoul, South Korea, planned by the Korean Housing Authority. Data was collected using direct observation of behaviors (445 observations) and open ended interviews (61 residents).

Of practical use

Organising categories