Picture yourself on a habitual walk through town, perhaps to work or a local grocery store. Consider how much thought has gone into planning the streets and spaces you pass on this journey to maximise its efficiency. For transit, a successful street is above all one that saves us time – or, in other words, exists less.
As a result, we have created a shared urban environment that is, on the whole, oblivious or “numb” to necessities other than movement. Yet increasingly, research in the behavioural sciences is exposing the undesirable effects of this order of priorities, while highlighting a range of psychological issues linked to different urban conditions.
Too often, city streets fail to prioritise the human experience over other, often capitalistic, concerns. A study from the University of Michigan has highlighted the beneficial qualities of interaction with nature in contrast to urban streetscapes: a walk through a forest was found to be “filled with intriguing stimuli [that] modestly grab attention”, thus having a restorative influence on cognitive abilities. Could such an environment be recreated in a city, even one devoid of much real greenery?
Read the full article "A manifesto for conscious cities: should streets be sensitive to our mental needs?" at The Guardian.