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Everyday Use of the City Cemetery: A Study of Environmental Qualities and Perceived Restorativeness in a Scottish Context

by Ka Yan Lai 1,*, Iain Scott 2 and Ziwen Sun 2
Department of Urban Planning and Design, Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 1JZ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Urban Sci. 2019, 3(3), 72;
Received: 17 June 2019 / Revised: 10 July 2019 / Accepted: 12 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
As the number of historical urban cemeteries where interment is no longer available continues to grow, the everyday use and restorative benefit of these spaces (beyond commemoration and remembrance) is worthy of further exploration. This study primarily investigates the everyday use of two historical urban cemeteries in Edinburgh through behavioural observation (N = 185). We also explore further the relationships between cemetery qualities and perceived restorativeness through an interviewer-administered survey (N = 134) and face-to-face interviews (N = 24) at the sites. The survey findings showed that usage and aesthetics in the cemeteries were both significantly and positively associated with various restorative qualities including ‘being away’, ‘fascination’ and ‘compatibility’. The data provided from the interviews and behavioural observations complement the survey findings that the everyday use of urban cemeteries (i.e., using them as an alternative route for pedestrian journeys or simply walking the dog) could facilitate users’ mental restorative process. After controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, provision of facilities (e.g., benches and toilets) was found to have no significant association with any restorative qualities. Using a mixed method approach, this study provides a novel understanding of how the urban population uses, and perceives, old urban cemeteries in contemporary Scotland. View Full-Text
Keywords: cemetery; everyday use; perceived restorativeness; Scottish context cemetery; everyday use; perceived restorativeness; Scottish context
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Lai, K.Y.; Scott, I.; Sun, Z. Everyday Use of the City Cemetery: A Study of Environmental Qualities and Perceived Restorativeness in a Scottish Context. Urban Sci. 2019, 3, 72.

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