Thank you, Laura, for making a post in “Designing our Neighbourhoods to Promote Health and Well-being”. I found it interesting when you discussed about the physical environment because it has a strong relationship to the well-being of a human. As our Professor Tim Townsend discussed, well-being focuses on the psychological side, such as Hedonic meaning the satisfaction of life and eudiamonc, which relates to the psychological functions and human developments. Therefore, I want to elaborate more on the physical environment and psychological effects towards well-being.
I want to share how boring streetscapes have an effect towards mental health. As authors Layla McCay, et al. (2017, p.428) suggests that, if humans are not exposed to a variety of information around their external environment; they are more likely to reside to internal pessimistic thoughts, causing boredom. McCay, et al. (2017, p.428) says boredom is related to stress and unsafe behaviours. Furthermore, notable Danish Architect and Urban Designer Jan Gehl (p.118, 2010) proposes that within the 5km/h (3mph), is where people encounter the urban environment with the most information, where designed well can bring joy, if not, boredom. Thus, it is important the streetscape provides change to our needs to create a more stimulating environment, which is good for a well-being.
Additionally, the work of Sidewalk Lab based in Toronto and in collaborative team with the Italian Architect Carl Ratti created this prototype of “The Dynamic Street”, which gives the individual an experience of changing streetscapes. The Dynamic Street is made up of a ‘modular paving system that can change the use of street throughout the day’, (Aouf, 2018). As seen below.
Moreover, the use of modular method allows a more flexible change as editor Niall Walsh (2018) describes that panels can change in real time, as the team are working on the panels to reconfigure to allow extra car lanes, before transforming back to a public space. Along with the use of technology these panels have lights to indicate the functions of the panel areas that can be changed for example to bike racks, bollard, or basketball hoop (Angelopoulou, 2018). This creates a fun, while functional streetscape – not boring.
Drawing on from this case study an interactive and changing streetscape helps to improve the well-being of an individual. Author Yodan Rofé, et al. (2015, p.232) states, streets physical space is related to well-being, whilst being in existence with an “interactive street”, further enhances the well-being of an individual. However, it is not only the street that we should consider only but author Lynne Manzo (2018, p.120) pushes forward that the streetscape but sidewalks, landscape and public realm lacing between buildings.
Overall, it is important to start incorporating fewer boring streetscapes that stimulate brain of the users, to increase a positive well-being. As in the contemporary society, we are either surrounded by grey facades, or plain lifeless surroundings.