Urban Environment

Mortality and Green Spaces (06-14-17)

Women living in greener spaces have lower mortality rates.  James and his colleagues report that “Green, natural environments may ameliorate adverse environmental exposures (e.g., air pollution, noise, and extreme heat), increase physical activity and social engagement, and lower stress. . . . Using data from the U.S.-based Nurses’ Health Study prospective cohort, we defined cumulative average time-varying seasonal greenness surrounding each participant’s address using satellite imagery. . . .We followed 108,630 women and observed 8,604 deaths between 2000 and 2008. . . .

Nature and Disorder (06-01-17)

Kotabe, Kardan, and Berman studied how the appeal of viewed nature is influenced by the disorder present in it.  They share that “Natural environments have powerful aesthetic appeal linked to their capacity for psychological restoration. In contrast, disorderly environments are aesthetically aversive, and have various detrimental psychological effects.

Active Symbols (05-18-17)

Awad’s research indicates that the symbols present in urban environments continually evolve and that different groups have varying relationships with them.  As she states, “Our urban environment is filled with symbols in the form of images, text, and structures that embody certain narratives about the past. Once those symbols are introduced into the city space they take a life span of their own in a continuous process of reproduction and reconstruction by different social actors.

Urban Mental Health (05-03-17)

McCay reports on ways that urban design can support mental health.  As she details “There are four key areas of opportunity for urban planners and designers. . . . . Accessibility to green places in the course of people’s daily routines. . . . activity is one of the most important design opportunities for mental health [so providing opportunities to be active are recommended]. . . . Mental health is closely associated with strong social connections and social capital. . . .

Children Street Crossing: Beware (05-02-17)

A press release from the University of Iowa indicates it is important to provide street crossing aids, such as lights that signal pedestrians when it is safe to cross, at locations where children under 14 are likely to need to move from one side of a street to the other.  Researchers determined that “children under certain ages lack the perceptual judgment and motor skills to cross a busy road consistently without putting themselves in danger.”  In a realistic simulated environment “Children up to their early teenage years had difficulty consistently crossing the street safely, with acciden

Vacant Lots and Crime (04-25-17)

A study published in Applied Geography links well-kept vacant lots and lower crime levels.  Researchers found that “Maintaining the yards of vacant properties helps reduce crime rates in urban neighborhoods.”  Data were collected over 9 years in Flint, Michigan:   “’We’ve always had a sense that maintaining these properties helps reduce crime and the perception of crime,’ said Christina Kelly, the land bank’s [Genesee County Land Bank Authority] planning and neighborhood revitalization director.

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