B4. Place quality and liveability

Well-being and urban form

Aims and method:

Explores the relationship between urban form and the well-being of citizens as reflected in a diverse basket of indicators incorporating factors as diverse as life expectancy and crime rates. The method extracts metrics from openly accessible datasets and uses linear regression analysis to explore the linkages in Greater London, UK

Key findings:

· The model explained 30% of the variance of well-being in London

· The typical London neighbourhood with good levels of well-being has the following characteristics: it is well-connected and easily accessible, it is characterised by green areas and predominance of historic properties, its street network is dense and tends to be grid-shaped

· Italian restaurants and wine shops tend to be present in London neighbourhoods with good well-being levels; conversely, African and Caribbean restaurants tend to be absent (both proxies for respectively healthy and less healthy eating habits)

· The results suggest that the identified neighbourhood characteristics encourage walking, sociability, less pollution and stress, feelings of safety and better eating habits.


Venerandi, A., Quattrone, G. & Capra, L. (2016). City form and well-being: what makes London neighborhoods good places to live?. Proceedings of the 24th ACM SIGSPATIAL International Conference on Advances in Geographic Information Systems, Article 70.


Walkability and social resilience

Aims and method:

Examines whether walkability influences neighbourhood social sustainability. Researchers examined 170 neighbourhoods (census tracts) in Louisville, Kentucky (USA) to understand whether walkability impacted on housing values, neighbourhood abandonment and crime.

Key findings:

· Walkability has a statistically significant impact on all dependent variables associated with neighbourhood sustainability as measured by foreclosures, housing values and crime.

· Walkability has a significant net impact on neighbourhood social resilience

· Better walkability significantly decreases crime and foreclosures.

· Walkability directly increases housing value


Gilderbloom, J. I., Riggs, W. W., & Meares, W. L. (2015). Does walkability matter? An examination of walkability’s impact on housing values, foreclosures and crime. Cities, 42, 13-24.


Values and preferences in housing environments

Aims and method:

Explains residential preference and choice in housing through interrogating underlying value orientations. Respondents were divided into two groups according to whether they attached more importance to self-direction (freedom and creativity) or to security (family, stability, health) as a guiding principle in their housing preferences.

Key findings:

· Respondents who find self-direction important more often live in the city centre and prefer an existing dwelling with an innovative design in a neighbourhood with various types of residents and a mix of residential and commercial land uses.

· Residents who attach more importance to security more often live outside the city centre and prefer a newly built dwelling with a traditional design in a neighbourhood with mainly housing and the same type of residents.

· Residents may indeed prefer particular dwelling or neighbourhood characteristics because they pursue values and goals that are important to them.


Jansen, S. J. (2014). Different Values, Different Housing? Can Underlying Value Orientations Predict Residential Preference and Choice?. Housing, Theory and Society, 31(3), 254-276.


Traffic and street liveability

Aims and method:

Explores the relationship between traffic levels in three San Francisco streets and their consequential liveability, most notably the social interaction between residents living on the streets. The study used a combination of interviews with residents, systematic observations of use and objective measurements of traffic and pedestrian flows.

Key findings:

· All aspects of perceived liveability – absence of noise, stress, and pollution; levels of social interaction, territorial extent, and environmental awareness; and safety – were found to correlate inversely with traffic intensity.

· Traffic increases were also accompanied by the departure of families with children from these streets.

· Heavy traffic is associated with much less social interaction and street activity. Conversely, a street with little traffic, and many families, promotes a rich social climate and a strong sense of community

· Heavy traffic is associated with a withdrawal from the physical environment. Conversely, residents of the street with low traffic show an acute, critical, and appreciative awareness of and care for the physical environment

· The intensive traffic conditions on the heavily trafficked street led to both stress and withdrawal. People who lived there at the time of the survey had either withdrawn from the street or had never become engaged in it. They only used it when they had to, they had few local friends and acquaintances, and they had become oblivious to the street as a living environment. If they could, they lived at the backs of their houses.

· Those who lived in the lightly trafficked street had many friends and acquaintances (over twice as many on the average as those on the heavily trafficked street), and they were generally much more aware of their street.


Appleyard D & Lintell M (1972) The Environmental Quality of City Streets: The Residents' Viewpoint. Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 38(2). 84-101.


Traffic and social interaction

Aims and method:

Investigates the impact of traffic on quality of life in a residential area of Bristol (UK), a city which in the British context is particularly car dependent. In essence, the study replicated Appleyard‟s (1969) research on traffic and neighbourhood social interaction. Primary data was collected through observations and a series of interviews with 60 households on three streets selected for their contrasting levels of traffic.

Key findings:

· Confirmed that Appleyard‟s findings are applicable to the UK in the 21st century; specifically that the number of friends and acquaintances reported by residents was significantly lower on streets with higher volumes of motor traffic.

· The extent of people's home territories also diminished as motor traffic increased.

· Individuals' perceptions of road safety in their neighbourhood may be disproportionately influenced by the traffic conditions on their street of residence, especially affecting the degree of independence granted to children.


Hart, J. and Parkhurst, G. (2011) Driven to excess: Impacts of motor vehicles on the quality of life of residents of three streets in Bristol UK. World Transport Policy & Practice, 17 (2). pp. 12-30. ISSN 1352-7614 Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/15513


Traffic and neighbourhood contacts

Aims and method:

Explores how street design and traffic affect social relations in urban neighbourhoods. Three street types in the city of Basel, Switzerland were studied: a 50 km/h street, a 30 km/h street and three encounter zones (20 km/h and pedestrian priority). The effects were measured in terms of neighbourhood interactions, use of public space, and the personal feeling of belonging of residents.

Key findings:

· The potential for social integration increases when the speed limit decreases

· Streets with slow moving traffic, limited space for parking and good environmental qualities offer a large potential for personal development, contentment and social integration.

· Neighbourhood contacts in such streets are more frequent and more intensive and the separation effects are substantially smaller.

· Liveable streets in urban neighbourhoods can be great places for public life and social inclusion.

· Families have neighbourhood interactions significantly more often and linger longer in public spaces than other groups of people


Sauter, D., & Huettenmoser, M. (2008). Liveable streets and social inclusion. Urban Design International, 13(2), 67-79.


Green links and quality of life

Aims and method:

Examined the use of three urban greenway trails in Texas. Based on the human ecosystem concept the work intended to determine if and how such greenway facilities were contributing to quality of life and how people might perceive such contributions based on the way they used the trail. Two questionnaires were used (one on site and one online). Data was analysed using descriptive statistics, and an importance contribution analysis.

Key findings:

· Most people used urban greenway trails for recreational purposes.

· The trails were contributing to community quality of life through resident fitness, resident pride, reducing pollution, reducing transportation costs and providing better connectivity, for example to places of work.


Shafer, C.S., Lee, B.K., & Turner, S. (2000). A tale of three greenway trails: user perceptions related to quality of life. Landscape and urban planning, 49(3), 163-178.


The impact of urban greenways

Aims and method:

Studies residents’ perceptions of living in close proximity to greenways. Surveys residents of two neighbourhoods in close proximity to the Atlanta BeltLine Trail (Georgia, USA) about common neighbourhood concerns and how the trail’s development either helps to alleviate these concerns or possibly exacerbates them. This study uses Importance Performance Analysis by soliciting data on resident perceptions of common neighbourhood concerns.

Key findings:

· From the 381 responses received, the top five most important neighbourhood concerns were crime, property taxes, vandalism, property values, and places for outdoor recreation.

· The BeltLine was perceived by residents to be improving property values, places for outdoor recreation, and social spaces for gathering, while slightly increasing litter, crime, vandalism, and property taxes


Weber, S., Boley, B. B., Palardy, N., & Gaither, C. J. (2017). The impact of urban greenways on residential concerns: Findings from the Atlanta BeltLine Trail. Landscape and Urban Planning, 167, 147-156.


Urban woodlands and quality of life

Aims and method:

Explores the importance of urban forests in England and the design and management implications they present. Mixed methods were adopted including interviews with open space managers, focus groups, user questionnaires and on-site observations.

Key findings:

· The frequency of childhood visits to woodlands determines how often people visit woodlands as adults.

· In order for people to visit woodlands regularly, woodlands need to be close to homes (within walking distance) and accessible. Easy access by car, bicycle or good public transport are the second best option.

· Woodlands can make an important contribution to ‘quality of life capital’.


Thompson, C. W., Aspinall, P., Bell, S., Findlay, C., Wherrett, J., & Travlou, P. (2004). Open space and social inclusion: local woodland use in central Scotland. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.


Quality of life from sustainable development

Aims and method:

Models and examines the impact of improved quality of life on India’s climate change goals. The study compares ‘business as usual’ versus a sustainable development model using a TIMES (The Integrated MARKAL EFOM System) cost optimisation simulation, and utilising scenarios from 2012 to 2030. The sustainability indicators considered included savings in water, reduction of air pollution and recycling materials for efficient use of material resources, including through improved building design and development codes.

Key Findings:

· The simulation shows quality of life improvements are possible via sustainable development and design plays a key role in this

· An integrated approach, including improvement in the rules managing development, is central to achieving the combination of sustainable development and adherence to climate change targets.


Byravan, S., Ali, M. S., Ananthakumar, M. R., Goyal, N., Kanudia, A., Ramamurthi, P. V., Srinivasan, S. & Paladugula, A. L. (2017). Quality of life for all: A sustainable development framework for India's climate policy reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Energy for Sustainable Development, 39, 48-58.


The human brain, ICT and the outdoors

Aims and method:

Asks the questions, does the human brain really like information and communication technology tools and does it like being outdoors? The paper presents an overview of the latest studies on cognitive neuroscience that can help evaluate concepts that promote technologically-enhanced outdoor activities, such as cyberparks.

Key findings:

· The human brain does not like ICT tools (being stuck in front of the computer or other screen) but does like being outdoors.

· Outdoors activities may be encouraged by ICT tools, yet outdoors activities themselves should be free from ICT tools


Klichowski, M., & Patrício, C. (2017). Does the human brain really like ICT tools and being outdoors? A brief overview of the cognitive neuroscience perspective of the CyberParks concept.


The effect of public art on the visual properties of landscapes

Aims and method:

Investigated the effects of public art presence, and subject matter, on visual perceptions and reactions to urban and natural landscapes. The method comprised of questions posed to a cross-section of potential users of such settings, concerning measurable visual attributes synonymous with landscapes. The Participants comprised exclusively of Nihon University (Tokyo) students who completed the surveys within controlled environments.

Key findings:

  • Public art reduced the pleasantness of a natural scene, but did not have an impact on the urban scene
  • The presence of public art generally yielded greater arousal; however, scores in relation to pleasantness varied with the public art works
  • The affective quality of art had more influence on landscapes than the compatibility between public art and the landscapes.


Motoyama, Y. & Hanyu, K. (2014). Does public art enrich landscapes? The effect of public art on visual properties and affective appraisals of landscapes. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 786–795.