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Evidence-Based Design Promoting Human Well-Being in Urban Areas

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2024) | Viewed by 12254

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Laboratory of Floriculture & Landscape Architecture, Department of Crop Science, School of Plant Sciences, Agricultural University of Athens, 11855 Athens, Greece
Interests: landscape design; landscape management; evidence-based design; human behavior; human wellbeing; historical landscapes; agricultural heritage; cultural heritage; healing gardens; playgrounds; school gardens; parks; green technologies; biodiversity; wildflower meadows; metal tolerance; aromatic plants; ornamental plants

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Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Economics and Development, Agricultural University of Athens, 11855 Athens, Greece
Interests: statistical/econometric modeling; spatial modeling; supply chain sustainability; circular economy; environmental statistics
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Today, over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. In the last few generations, there has been a great rise in urbanization. A large amount of the elderly living in cities today spent their childhood in rural areas, whereas children born and currently living in cities are likely to be future urban dwellers, raising concerns on their well-being. The majority of urban areas worldwide are faced with green spaces that are limited in number and size, as well as other nature-based solutions. The limited planting and vegetation in urban areas, combined with air pollution and the urban heat island effect, have created “unhealthy” conditions for urban dwellers. Urban dwellers are subjected to social exclusion, mental illness, anxiety, and depression. The planning, design, development, and management of urban areas affects human health and well-being. Urban green spaces are essential for improving air quality, mitigating urban temperatures, encouraging physical activity, and improving overall human health and well-being. The design of sustainable urban green spaces can be facilitated through research. With a limited amount of green spaces available, evidence-based design would facilitate in enhancing the positive effects from the development of green spaces. Understanding the interdependence between well-being and the environment is key for developing sustainable urban areas catering for human well-being, and evidence-based design can play a vital role in achieving this. Accordingly, the aim of this Special Issue is to provide a collection of papers based on scientific research in order to determine design proposals for urban green spaces that aim to support and promote sustainability and human well-being.

Dr. Angeliki Paraskevopoulou
Dr. Chrisovaladis Malesios
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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. Sustainability 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 2400 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

  • evidence-based design
  • biosensors
  • perceptions
  • well-being
  • human health
  • urbanization

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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18 pages, 6079 KiB  
Article
A Framework for Evidence-Based Landscape Architecture: Cooling a Hot Urban Climate through Design
by Xiaoyu Li, Jingxi Peng, Dongying Li and Robert D. Brown
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 2301; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15032301 - 26 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2652
Abstract
The rapidly advancing knowledge of the interactions between people and their environment provides opportunities for designers to practice evidence-based landscape architecture (EBLA) in designing outdoor spaces. Recent studies have proposed some characteristics of successful EBLA projects, including the following: amicable skepticism; the questioning [...] Read more.
The rapidly advancing knowledge of the interactions between people and their environment provides opportunities for designers to practice evidence-based landscape architecture (EBLA) in designing outdoor spaces. Recent studies have proposed some characteristics of successful EBLA projects, including the following: amicable skepticism; the questioning of assumptions; the verification of information; the application of evidence to the problem at hand; and data that is openly reported and replicable. These five steps were the basis for a framework that was developed and tested through the redesign of a downtown area in a hot-climate city, El Paso, Texas. The process started with the collection of base information, including local climate conditions and evidence on heat-related illness. Case studies and a search of the literature led to the questioning of some assumptions, including the expectation that the air temperature on the site could be substantially modified through design. On-site microclimate measurements were used to confirm this insight, and were used to validate computer models. The validated models were used to assess the thermal comfort conditions across the site. A human energy budget model was used to identify the key atmospheric elements that both strongly affect a person’s heat health, and that can also be readily modified through landscape architectural design. These led to the development of guidelines, which were developed as a ‘tool kit’ and applied to the design. Amicable skepticism was practiced throughout the process to confirm that the decisions were made based on evidence, not opinions or preconceived notions. The resulting design was tested using computer models to check whether the goal of thermally comfortable conditions was met. The quantitative results illustrated the amount of improvement to the thermal comfort of site visitors. This process is universal and can be applied to any landscape. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Design Promoting Human Well-Being in Urban Areas)
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27 pages, 6514 KiB  
Article
Runners Experience Lower Heart Rate, Increased Speed, and Joy/Calm on Routes with Trees, by the Sea and through Parks: Implications for Climate Change Design
by Angeliki T. Paraskevopoulou, Marina Chletsou and Chrysovalantis Malesios
Sustainability 2022, 14(23), 16280; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142316280 - 6 Dec 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2120
Abstract
The beneficial effects of green and blue areas on human wellbeing are significant. Physical activity is a crucial factor for the promotion of good human health and wellbeing, and running constitutes one of the most popular forms of outdoor physical activity. This study [...] Read more.
The beneficial effects of green and blue areas on human wellbeing are significant. Physical activity is a crucial factor for the promotion of good human health and wellbeing, and running constitutes one of the most popular forms of outdoor physical activity. This study examines the effect of six urban “route landscapes” with different landscape characters used for outdoor running on the heart rates and speeds of 30 people wearing a smartwatch while running. These routes included: (1) a running track in a stadium; (2) a road without street trees; (3) a road with street trees; (4) an urban park without sea view; (5) an urban park with sea view; and (6) a road by the sea. Additionally, a questionnaire survey was conducted to determine participants’ perceptions and preferred “route landscape” for running. In the study, higher heart rates were recorded on routes without trees, including the stadium. The lowest heart rate was recorded in the park by the sea, followed by the road by the sea, which were at the lowest altitudes amongst the routes studied. Additionally, the highest mean speed of participants was recorded during the run on the road by the sea. The results also showed that irrespectively of the routes, increases in altitude and gradient caused an increase in the heart rates. In the survey, the majority of respondents stated that they would have felt calm and joy during a run either in a park or in a park by the sea. With rising sea levels dictating not to build, carbon capture being necessary in parks, and trees by roads reducing the heat island effect, this study reveals the best “route landscapes” for runners’ health and global warming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Design Promoting Human Well-Being in Urban Areas)
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17 pages, 1018 KiB  
Article
The Importance of Outdoor Spaces during the COVID-19 Lockdown in Aotearoa—New Zealand
by Bruno Marques, Jacqueline McIntosh, Chitrakala Muthuveerappan and Krzysztof Herman
Sustainability 2022, 14(12), 7308; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14127308 - 15 Jun 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2600
Abstract
The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its extensive variants have caused drastic changes to people’s habits and routines in many countries worldwide, including Aotearoa—New Zealand. The levels of lockdown and/or movement limitations affected how people used outdoor spaces, often keeping them away from [...] Read more.
The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its extensive variants have caused drastic changes to people’s habits and routines in many countries worldwide, including Aotearoa—New Zealand. The levels of lockdown and/or movement limitations affected how people used outdoor spaces, often keeping them away from nature’s benefits. The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures adopted to control it provide an interesting experiment investigating the links between nature exposure, recreational use of outdoor spaces, and people’s health and wellbeing under extreme conditions. Using an online survey distributed during lockdown and based on 212 responses, this article explores the different typologies of the outdoor spaces that people had access to during lockdown and the associated physical activities practised. It investigates how outdoor space affects our emotional response and how such space and related activities can help us cope with confinement. The results of this study enable us to better understand those spatial elements and characteristics of outdoor spaces that are essential to people’s wellbeing, especially in unusual circumstances where access is restricted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Design Promoting Human Well-Being in Urban Areas)
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16 pages, 17308 KiB  
Article
Can Urban Forest Settings Evoke Positive Emotion? Evidence on Facial Expressions and Detection of Driving Factors
by Ping Liu, Mengnan Liu, Tingting Xia, Yutao Wang and Hongxu Wei
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8687; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168687 - 4 Aug 2021
Cited by 25 | Viewed by 2562
Abstract
There is increasing interest in experiences of urban forests because relevant studies have revealed that forest settings can promote mental well-being. The mental response to a forest experience can be evaluated by facial expressions, but relevant knowledge is limited at large geographical scales. [...] Read more.
There is increasing interest in experiences of urban forests because relevant studies have revealed that forest settings can promote mental well-being. The mental response to a forest experience can be evaluated by facial expressions, but relevant knowledge is limited at large geographical scales. In this study, a dataset of 2824 photos, detailing the evaluated age (toddler, youth, middle-age, and senior citizen) and gender of urban forest visitors, was collected from Sina Weibo (a social media application similar to Twitter in China) between 1–7 October 2018, in 12 randomly chosen cities in China. Happy and sad expressions were rated as scores by FireFACE software V1.0, and the positive response index (PRI) was calculated by subtracting sad scores from happy scores. Regional environmental factors were collected to detect driving forces using regression analyses. Happy scores were higher in forests than in urban settings, while sad scores for toddlers were lower in forests than in promenades and squares. Females showed more positive emotional expressions than males. Increases in happy scores were driven by the increase of daily minimum temperature; while PRI declined with increases in latitude. Overall, an urban forest experience can evoke positive emotions, which is likely due to comfortable feelings in warm temperatures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Design Promoting Human Well-Being in Urban Areas)
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Review

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17 pages, 519 KiB  
Review
Public Spaces for Older People: A Review of the Relationship between Public Space to Quality of Life
by Sadiq R. Younes, Bruno Marques and Jacqueline McIntosh
Sustainability 2024, 16(11), 4583; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16114583 - 28 May 2024
Viewed by 862
Abstract
This paper investigates the relationship between public spaces and quality of life (QoL) for older adults, aiming to identify knowledge gaps within the context of population ageing and urbanisation. Recognising the growing importance of sustainable urban development, the research explores how cities can [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the relationship between public spaces and quality of life (QoL) for older adults, aiming to identify knowledge gaps within the context of population ageing and urbanisation. Recognising the growing importance of sustainable urban development, the research explores how cities can foster active ageing and improve QoL through accessible and inclusive public spaces. A scoping literature review identifies five key QoL domains for older adults: autonomy, meaningful activities, positive social relationships, leisure opportunities, and health. To identify knowledge gaps, a review of the literature was conducted for each of the highlighted themes. The review highlights areas requiring further investigation, including the interplay between environmental design and social connections, intergenerational perspectives on public space liveliness, the influence of context on QoL and the built environment, and the value of qualitative research in this field. By contributing to the understanding of QoL in relation to public spaces through the lens of person–environment fit theory, this study aims to inform urban design, landscape architecture, and policymaking in the creation of age-friendly communities with inclusive public spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Design Promoting Human Well-Being in Urban Areas)
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