Environmental Factors Related to Perceived Stress in Open Public Spaces

Sep 23, 2016

Which factors of the built environment are critical to influence subjectively perceived urban stress (PUS)?, how do these factors interact?, and how they can be addressed by planning and urban design in order to maximize pedestrian comfort? This study introduces a framework of environmental factors and spatial analysis tools shown useful to describe and predict PUS in open public spaces (OPS). Open space typologies (park, square, courtyard, streets) were found the best predictors for PUS, followed by building coverage ratio, isovist vertices numbers, and syntactical characteristics. The results are a first attempt to predict more complex emotions such as perceived urban stress by analyzing factors of the built environment and using standard planning tools such as GIS and Space Syntax. The framework may be useful to architects and neuroscientists alike, who seek to identify urban configurations likely to be perceived as stressful and seek to further investigate pedestrian comfort by pairing environmental factors with geo referenced, psychophysiological effects.

keywords: open public space, built environment, perceived urban stress, pedestrian comfort, Space Synta

Martin Knöll (Technische Universität Darmstadt)
Presented at: 
2016 ANFA Conference (Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture

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