Urban Environment

William H. Whyte Bio (01-10-22)

The groundbreaking urban research of William H. is reported in American Urbanist:  How William H. Whyte’s Unconventional Wisdom Reshaped Public Life, by Richard Rein.  The text not only reviews Whyte’s process but also conclusions drawn from data collected.

Richard Rein. 2022.  American Urbanist:  How William H. Whyte’s Unconventional Wisdom Reshaped Public Life.  Island Press, Washington, DC.

Behavioral Implications of Neighborhood Design (01-07-22)

Hunter and colleagues studied how neighborhood design influences resident actions.  They report that “Parents . . . with preschoolers . . . living in Edmonton, Canada were recruited from each of Edmonton’s council wards. Parents reported demographic information and the importance of several neighborhood features (destinations, design, social, safety, esthetics) for their child’s active play, their own active recreation, and their coactivity. . . . The majority of parents reported that 23 of the 32 neighborhood features were perceived as being relevant for all activity domains.

Developing Walkable Places

What sorts of design features encourage people to go outdoors and walk around their neighborhoods, towns and cities?  Neuroscience research supplies answers to that question while also making it clear that walking can help us think more clearly, creatively, and productively, all as we burn calories.  

Comfortable City Temperatures (12-30-21)

Speak and Salbitano evaluated comfort in a range of different urban places.  They report that The present study is based on a campaign of meteorological measurements in a large number of sites using a mobile data collection system to allow a human-centred approach. . . . In the case study of Florence, local physical characteristics of the sites; Sky View Factor (SVF), tree shade, ground surface cover, and canyon effect, can moderate human exposure to potentially uncomfortable thermal conditions during a typical Mediterranean summer.

Cities and Personalities (12-20-21)

Researchers have learned that as the forms of cities evolve the personalities of likely residents are different, which has design implications.  A team lead by Gotz (study published in American Psychologist) reports that “Rising house prices may change the personality make-up of US cities within a few years, with residents becoming increasingly open-minded – not just as wealthier people move in, but also among longer-term locals. This is according to a University of Cambridge-led study of almost two million people in the US living across 199 cities.

City Stress (12-13-21)

Robin Mazumder investigates links between urban design and mental wellbeing.  He reports that during his dissertation research “participants were brought into an urban environment, in the real world, but also via virtual reality, through the use of 360-degree videos of cityscapes.”  Data collected via surveys and from physiological measurements indicated that “tall buildings make people uncomfortable when they’re surrounded by them.

Urban Design and Wellbeing (12-02-21)

Samuelsson studied links between urban design and wellbeing.  He reports that “Drawing on literature from urban morphology, complex systems analysis, environmental psychology, and neuroscience, I provide a wide-angle view of how urban form relates to subjective well-being through movement, social and economic activity, experiences and psychological restoration. I propose three principles for urban form that could promote subjective well-being while also mitigating the environmental impact of cities in industrialized societies.

Urban Planning for Child Development (11-19-21)

Binter and colleagues studied links between urban design and child development.  They report that they “investigated the association between early-life urban environment and cognitive and motor function in children. We used data from 5403 mother–child pairs from four population-based birth-cohorts (UK, France, Spain, and Greece). . . . Higher greenness exposure within 300 m during pregnancy was associated with higher verbal abilities. . . . Higher connectivity density within 100 m and land use diversity during pregnancy were related to lower verbal abilities.

Traveling Through Cities (10-25-21)

Bongiorno and colleagues set out to learn more about how people find their way through cities.  The group reports that they “analyze salient features of human path planning through a statistical analysis of a massive dataset of GPS traces, which reveals that (1) people increasingly deviate from the shortest path when the distance between origin and destination increases and (2) chosen paths are statistically different when origin and destination are swapped.


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