The impact of urban background on appreciation of natural environments

Mirza, Leila, Linzey, Michael, Byrd, Hugh and Dodd, George (2012) The impact of urban background on appreciation of natural environments. In: ICBEDC-2012: 6th International Conference and Workshop on the Built Environment in Developing Countries, 4-5th December 2012, Adelaide.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


For the first time in human history, more than half of the world's population live in towns and cities. The acceleration of habitat alteration as well as modern lifestyles dramatically reduce the interaction with natural environments. To get an overview of this issue, a comparison was made between individuals who lived most of their childhoods in high-rise blocks and who experienced nature on a daily basis from living and playing in suburbia or a rural environment. Can a lack of contact with natural environments lead to an estrangement from nature and consequently less tendency to invest in its protection?

This paper hypothesizes that a sense of estrangement can occur due to the lack of daily contact with nature and can impact on the way people perceive and value natural environments. Our research question is, ‘does rural/urban upbringing impact the way individuals’ perceive nature?’ In order to answer this question, we focus on individuals’ perceptions about their workplace window-view. In addition to a questionnaire, Kevin Lynch’s and Brian Goody’s ‘mental images’ method was employed to identify the preferred elements of their workplace window-view and whether urban/rural upbringing has any influence on their preferences.

This paper presents some early findings of the research. The innovative method of this paper lets us identify aspects of personal appreciation and personal values related to individuals’ lives and lifestyles. In the process of analysis, participants’ mental images were compared against photos taken from their workplace views. We conclude that degree of urban upbringing has an effect on how much individuals value visual contact with a natural environment. In other words, childhood environmental experiences influence the way current surroundings is experienced, understood and appreciated.

Keywords:Natural Environments, Urban/Rural Upbringing, Mental Mapping, Cognitive Image, Estrangement from Nature
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K440 Urban studies
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K300 Landscape Design
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:17461
Deposited On:18 May 2015 09:18

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