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Restorative urban open space: Exploring the spatial configuration of human emotional fulfilment in urban open space

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The capacity of outdoor settings to benefit human well being is well established by research. Examples of restorative settings can be found throughout history and are still applied today in health-care facilities, as healing or restorative gardens for the sick, but their wider significance in the urban public realm remains insufficiently explored. A conceptual framework for restorative urban open space based on mosaics of linked and nested spaces woven into the urban fabric is presented. The concept synthesizes the theory of centres, pioneered in the 1970s and refined in recent work by architectural theorist Christopher Alexander, with material relating to social and ecological dimensions of outdoor spatial configuration. The concept argues for fundamental properties of order, as integrations of locational, directional and transitional spatial experience, which are present in the natural and cultural world and associated with human psychological benefit. This spatial arrangement may offer potential to resurrect people's connection with intuitively preferred forms and strengthen beneficial relations between human functioning and the spatial environment.
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Keywords: Restorative; spatial experience; urban open space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

Publication date: 01 October 2005

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