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The Restorative Effects of Livable Spaces
abdulkarim, dina

2012, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, City and Regional Planning.
The present research builds on Whyte’s work on livable places in by testing: 1) whether or not some of the elements identified by him would increase the likelihood that people visit and spend time in a plaza (i.e., increase its livability), and 2) if those elements, which presumably make a place more livable, also make it more restorative. The study manipulated the presence and absence of seats, food, and triangulation (represented by a sculpture) in three public plazas: Gansvoort Plaza in NYC, NY; The Piazza at Schmidts in Phildelphia, PA; and Civic Center Park in Denver CO. To measure livability and restorativeness, the study developed and tested a livability scale, and adopted and tested a restorativeness scale from Berto (2005). A total of 120 students rated photographs of the plazas, 60 (23 men and 37 women) for livability, and 60 (23 men and 37 women) for restorativeness. Results confirmed Whyte’s claim that the presence of seats, food or sculpture improved livability. For seats, however, the presence of sculpture depressed livability. Likewise, for sculpture, the presence of seats depressed livability. While Whyte described livable spaces as ones with a higher ratio of women, the study did not find evidence of gender differences. For restorativeness, the results indicated a positive effect of sculpture, but indirect positive effect of seats and food. Restorativeness was highest with any two of the three features were present, but lower with the third feature. As with livability, when seats were present, the addition of sculpture lowered restorativeness; when sculpture was present the addition of seats lowered restorativeness; and men and women did not differ in restorativeness. The findings suggest that enhancing the livability may also enhance restorativeness, and they suggest ways to improve the livability and restorativeness of places with non-natural elements.
Jack Nasar (Committee Chair)
Thomas Nygren (Committee Member)
Jesus Lara (Committee Member)
128 p.

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