Human Health Theory

In “Landscape and well-being: a scoping study on the health- promoting impact of outdoor environments” a ‘scoping study’ was utilized as a method for organizing the body of data related to how landscape influences human health and from there examines the environmental attributes characteristic of such settings. To begin, landscape influences on human health were delineated into three categories: mental well-being, physical well-being and social well-being.

Mental well-being. The ratio of vegetation to infrastructure proved to be very impactful on mental well-being; it was found that people feel more comfortable in ‘natural’ landscapes than in densely urban landscapes. Attention restoration and recovery from mental fatigue were considered and again it was found that landscapes with the more ‘natural’ settings have greater mentally restorative capabilities as compared to public open spaces used for sports and entertainment in urban settings. ‘Natural’ landscapes were found to reduce stress and rouse positive feelings.

Physical well-being. Urban design has a major impact on human activity levels and therefore directly influences the physical wellbeing of its landscape users. Safe bike lanes and walking paths when provided are related to the promotion of higher levels of physical activity and therefore encourage physical well-being. Accessibility and mixed use developments increase human engagement with adjacent landscapes and promotes greater pedestrian mobility. In less urbanized areas, it was found that forest landscapes act as a key promoter of outdoor activities as they allow great opportunity for diverse recreational uses.

Social well-being. Integration of social consideration into design gives landscapes the ability to create stronger bonds between human community members. Safety, attractiveness and walkability are ways in which design can enhance and stimulate these social bonds. The collective experience of universally accessible ‘nature’ or wildness in offers an additional avenue for increasing social welfare.

The table below describes the key environmental attributes that impact human health by way of the aforementioned pathways.

Pathway Influence Key Attributes
Mentally Restorative ‘Natural’ lookingBeach, water, forest, parks mountains.
Stress reduction ComplexityRichness



Promotion of positive feelings Accessible natural areas, i.e. forests in non-urban areasSafety
Physically Mobility AccessibilityWalkability

Safety (i.e. from traffic)

Recreation Forest/Public Open Space 
Socially Social Integration SafetyAttractiveness


Community Areas

Nature access Accessible “Wildness”

Landscape Design Guidelines

Healing Garden

The reciprocity between humans and animals causes emotional effects. When someone has a suffering pet they will have a place to comfort themselves because I have designed a healing garden behind the animal clinics. The ‘natural’ aesthetic makes it possible to promote mental wellbeing of Vet Med clients.

Mixed Land Use

There are zones throughout my plan for different land uses, the diversity allows for unique experiences to reduce fatigue and increase stress relief.


Increased connectivity of paths for biking, walking/running along Lincoln Avenue corridor. Walkability greatly improves in my design.

Biking Infrastructure

Providing increased numbers of bike racks and a bus shelter further promotes non automobile transportation for students.

Social Infrastructure

Through the design of an outdoor café area, social interaction is promoted.


Andrea Abraham, Kathrin Sommerhalder,Thomas Abel, Landscape and well-being: a scoping study on the health-promoting impact of outdoor environments, Int J Public Health (2010).











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