Special Issue "Experiencing the City: The Relation between Urban Design and People’s Wellbeing"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 October 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Minou Weijs - Perrée
Website
Guest Editor
Department of the Built Environment, Real Estate Management and Development, Eindhoven University of Technology, 5612 AZ Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Interests: social networks; subjective wellbeing; user experience; urban environment; public space; mental health at work
Dr. Pauline Van den Berg
Website
Guest Editor
Department of the Built Environment, Urban Science and Systems, Eindhoven University of Technology, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Interests: social networks; social activity—travel behavior; healthy cities, urban planning; residential environments; quality of life
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Gamze Dane
Website
Guest Editor
Department of the Built Environment, Eindhoven University of Technology, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Interests: human spatial behavior; spatial perceptions; urban regeneration; urban sensing; geospatial data processing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Urbanization brings major challenges with regard to livability and the health and quality of life of citizens. It is important that the urban environment meets the current needs of society, so that people have positive experiences, feel safe, comfortable, and are satisfied with their surroundings. How the city is experienced (e.g. by seeing, hearing, or feeling) could shape people’s urban life. Because it is recognized that people are the most important actors in urban planning processes, there is a growing interest in the relationship between public space and the perception of it by citizens, both in (scientific) research and among policymakers. However, there is still little empirical research on the momentary perception, experience, and feelings of people in relation to the urban design of cities. Research using novel approaches (e.g., virtual reality (VR), real-time surveys, and geotagging) is necessary to extract more data about the urban environment and about people’s momentary experiences or feelings that eventually can help to develop policy on health and wellbeing in urban areas. Results could also be interesting for urban planners when designing an attractive, livable, and safe living environment for citizens.

Therefore, this Special Issue seeks papers with new empirical findings on experiencing the urban environment and how this is related to people’s wellbeing, as well as papers highlighting novel methods to measure and analyze momentary experiences in the city. We also welcome papers on urban interventions to increase citizens’ wellbeing and high-quality systematic reviews related to experiencing the urban environment.

Dr. Minou Weijs – Perrée
Dr. Pauline van den Berg
Dr. Gamze Dane
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Urban public space
  • Subjective wellbeing (SWB)
  • Life satisfaction
  • Urban emotions
  • Urban experience
  • Urban interventions
  • Urban design
  • Spatial behavior

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Public Spaces as Knowledgescapes: Understanding the Relationship between the Built Environment and Creative Encounters at Dutch University Campuses and Science Parks
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(20), 7421; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17207421 - 12 Oct 2020
Abstract
The success of university campuses depends on the interrelations between creative encounters and the built environment, conceptualised here as spatial affordances for creativity. Such an interface plays a fundamental role in interactions for knowledge sharing and the exchange of ideas on campus. Due [...] Read more.
The success of university campuses depends on the interrelations between creative encounters and the built environment, conceptualised here as spatial affordances for creativity. Such an interface plays a fundamental role in interactions for knowledge sharing and the exchange of ideas on campus. Due to campus public spaces generally being considered as the leftovers between buildings and classrooms, undermanaged, and overlooked, little is known about the extent to which this built environment enables or inhibits creative encounters in such spaces. The inner-city campuses and science parks (SPs) of Amsterdam and Utrecht, the case-studies of this research, differ in terms of their location relative to the city, their masterplan typologies and the arrangement of buildings. However, they are similar in terms of the aforementioned issues of public spaces. The novelty of this research is the attempt to overcome such issues using an innovative mixed-methods approach that tests the ‘spatial affordances for creativity’ with empirical data collection and analysis. This raises the importance of mapping, quantifying and analysing the spatial distribution of momentary perceptions, experiences, and feelings of people with methods such as volunteered geographic information (VGI). The results show that proximity between multiple urban functions and physical features, such as parks, cafés and urban seating are important when it comes to explaining the high frequency of creative encounters between people. Urban designers of campuses can use the applied method as a tool to plan and design attractive public spaces that provide creativity through the transfer of tacit knowledge, social well-being, positive momentary perceptions, sense of community, and a sense of place. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Interdisciplinary Mixed-Methods Approach to Analyzing Urban Spaces: The Case of Urban Walkability and Bikeability
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(19), 6994; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17196994 - 24 Sep 2020
Abstract
Human-centered approaches are of particular importance when analyzing urban spaces in technology-driven fields, because understanding how people perceive and react to their environments depends on several dynamic and static factors, such as traffic volume, noise, safety, urban configuration, and greenness. Analyzing and interpreting [...] Read more.
Human-centered approaches are of particular importance when analyzing urban spaces in technology-driven fields, because understanding how people perceive and react to their environments depends on several dynamic and static factors, such as traffic volume, noise, safety, urban configuration, and greenness. Analyzing and interpreting emotions against the background of environmental information can provide insights into the spatial and temporal properties of urban spaces and their influence on citizens, such as urban walkability and bikeability. In this study, we present a comprehensive mixed-methods approach to geospatial analysis that utilizes wearable sensor technology for emotion detection and combines information from sources that correct or complement each other. This includes objective data from wearable physiological sensors combined with an eDiary app, first-person perspective videos from a chest-mounted camera, and georeferenced interviews, and post-hoc surveys. Across two studies, we identified and geolocated pedestrians’ and cyclists’ moments of stress and relaxation in the city centers of Salzburg and Cologne. Despite open methodological questions, we conclude that mapping wearable sensor data, complemented with other sources of information—all of which are indispensable for evidence-based urban planning—offering tremendous potential for gaining useful insights into urban spaces and their impact on citizens. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Designing Urban Green Space (UGS) to Enhance Health: A Methodology
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(14), 5205; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145205 - 18 Jul 2020
Abstract
Policymakers and urban designers strive to implement the increasing evidence about the positive association between urban green space (UGS) and health in policy. In Almere, The Netherlands, the Regenboogbuurt (“Rainbow Quarter”) neighbourhood is currently being revitalized. The research team was asked to deliver [...] Read more.
Policymakers and urban designers strive to implement the increasing evidence about the positive association between urban green space (UGS) and health in policy. In Almere, The Netherlands, the Regenboogbuurt (“Rainbow Quarter”) neighbourhood is currently being revitalized. The research team was asked to deliver design principles for the improvement of UGS in this neighbourhood to benefit the health of its residents. However, robust studies that demonstrate what UGS criteria offer what particular benefit for what target group are scarce. This paper contributes to the need for more evidence-based UGS design by presenting the approach we used to develop UGS design principles for Regenboogbuurt. Demographic information, health statistics, residents’ opinions, and data about the current use of UGS were analysed to choose target groups and to formulate health benefit goals. We also developed a model for assessing the health benefits of UGS. For two age groups (those aged 10–24 and 40–60), stimulating physical health and social cohesion, respectively, were determined to be the goals of improving UGS. UGS design principles were then assessed based on the existing literature. These principles will be taken into account when this area is revitalized in 2021. Thus, there will be an opportunity to measure whether these design principles did indeed contribute to residents’ health. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Location Choice in the Context of Older Adults’ Leisure-Time Walking
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(13), 4775; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17134775 - 02 Jul 2020
Abstract
Leisure-time walking is the most prevalent and preferred form of physical activity of older adults. In order to promote leisure-time walking and enhance the efficiency of using outdoor open spaces, the supply of different types of walking locations should match the needs, interests [...] Read more.
Leisure-time walking is the most prevalent and preferred form of physical activity of older adults. In order to promote leisure-time walking and enhance the efficiency of using outdoor open spaces, the supply of different types of walking locations should match the needs, interests and preferences of older adults. However, there is limited knowledge on which location types are chosen by which groups of individuals under which conditions. This study therefore examines the effects of socio-demographics, episode participation attributes and neighborhood characteristics on the location choice of older adults for leisure-time walking. A multinomial logit model is estimated based on data collected among 316 respondents aged 60 or older in Dalian, China. The results indicate that older people’s location choices for walking are associated with their socio-demographics, episode participation attributes and neighborhood characteristics. Finally, implications of the results for the planning, design and management of open spaces are identified. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Multi-Agent-Based Urban Vegetation Design
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3075; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093075 - 28 Apr 2020
Abstract
Urban vegetation is an essential element of the urban city pedestrian walkway. Despite city forest regulations and urban planning best practices, vegetation planning lacks clear comprehension and compatibility with other urban elements surrounding it. Urban planners and academic researchers currently devote vital attention [...] Read more.
Urban vegetation is an essential element of the urban city pedestrian walkway. Despite city forest regulations and urban planning best practices, vegetation planning lacks clear comprehension and compatibility with other urban elements surrounding it. Urban planners and academic researchers currently devote vital attention to include most of the urban elements and their impact on the occupants and the environment in the planning stage of urban development. With the advancement in computational design, they have developed various algorithms to generate design alternatives and measure their impact on the environment that meets occupants’ needs and perceptions of their city. In particular, multi-agent-based simulations show great promise in developing rule compliance with urban vegetation design tools. This paper proposed an automatic urban vegetation city rule compliance approach for pedestrian pathway vegetation, leveraging multi-agent system and algorithmic modeling tools. This approach comprises three modules: rule compliance (T-Rule), street vegetation design tool (T-Design), and multi-agent alternative generation (T-Agent). Notably, the scope of the paper is limited to trees, shrubbery, and seating area configurations in the urban pathway context. To validate the developed design tool, a case study was tested, and the vegetation design tool generated the expected results successfully. A questionnaire was conducted to give feedback on the use of the developed tool for enhancing positive experience of the developed tool. It is anticipated that the proposed tool has the potential to aid urban planners in decision-making and develop more practical vegetation planting plans compared with the conventional Two-Dimensional (2D) plans, and give the city occupants the chance to take part in shaping their city by merely selecting from predefined parameters in a user interface to generate their neighborhood pathway vegetation plans. Moreover, this approach can be extended to be embedded in an interactive map where city occupants can shape their neighborhood greenery and give feedback to urban planners for decision-making. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Urban Morphology Design on Enhancing Physical Activity and Public Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2359; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072359 - 31 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Along with environmental pollution, urban planning has been connected to public health. The research indicates that the quality of built environments plays an important role in reducing mental disorders and overall health. The structure and shape of the city are considered as one [...] Read more.
Along with environmental pollution, urban planning has been connected to public health. The research indicates that the quality of built environments plays an important role in reducing mental disorders and overall health. The structure and shape of the city are considered as one of the factors influencing happiness and health in urban communities and the type of the daily activities of citizens. The aim of this study was to promote physical activity in the main structure of the city via urban design in a way that the main form and morphology of the city can encourage citizens to move around and have physical activity within the city. Functional, physical, cultural-social, and perceptual-visual features are regarded as the most important and effective criteria in increasing physical activities in urban spaces, based on literature review. The environmental quality of urban spaces and their role in the physical activities of citizens in urban spaces were assessed by using the questionnaire tool and analytical network process (ANP) of structural equation modeling. Further, the space syntax method was utilized to evaluate the role of the spatial integration of urban spaces on improving physical activities. Based on the results, consideration of functional diversity, spatial flexibility and integration, security, and the aesthetic and visual quality of urban spaces plays an important role in improving the physical health of citizens in urban spaces. Further, more physical activities, including motivation for walking and the sense of public health and happiness, were observed in the streets having higher linkage and space syntax indexes with their surrounding texture. Full article
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