Urban Nature for Well-being: Design Recommendations for Psychological Benefits in Urban Public Spaces
Kaiserman, Joanna Grace
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Urban nature is an important contributor to human health and well-being in urban areas, and must be integrated into the public realm. Cities such as Seattle that are experiencing population booms are concentrating growth in urban areas and are becoming more dense. The increased density leads to a decrease in natural spaces, but also provides opportunity to design public spaces to be more efficient in terms of providing people with exposure to nature. This thesis shows the benefits of nature in cities, particularly the psychological benefits nature provides to urban residents. Recognizing and appreciating the social value of nature, this thesis aims to demonstrate ways in which nature can be cultivated in the city to harness the benefits to human psychological well-being and to recommend ways in which natural features can be incorporated into urban public space design to help facilitate this. A literature review of the current science behind the effects of nature on human health and well-being and effective public space design combined with three focusing on sensory qualities case studies of natural public spaces in Seattle to inform the final recommendations of this thesis. Examples of how these recommendations might be implemented are shown in the context of a site in Lake City, a neighborhood in Seattle experiencing increased densification. The lessons learned are intended to be transferable to other urban areas that are becoming denser, as ways to integrate nature into the public realm as these areas continue to develop. This thesis aims to provide a foundation for thinking more critically about the human relationship with nature in urban areas and how public space design can be used as a way of improving the psychological well-being of people in the urban environment.
- Urban planning