Freiraumspezifische Wohlfühlfaktoren : zur Wahrnehmung, Nutzung & Aneignung städtischer Freiräume

  • Open space-specific feel-good factors: For the perception, use and appropriation of urban open spaces

Matros, Jasmin; Lohrberg, Frank (Thesis advisor); Hornberg, Claudia (Thesis advisor)

Aachen (2019, 2020)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Dissertation, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, 2019


Open spaces in urban areas are of eminent significance for the people living there as they do not just offer the possibility to stay out in nature but also provide different possibilities for outdoor pursuits. Especially public open spaces can be used as a means of recreation, movement and communication. By their existence and beyond, by their use, they have the potential to contribute to a health promoting city (development). The positive effects on the health of the urban population are currently being re-focused on science, politics and planning. In addition the development from a pathogenic to an increasingly salutogenic attribution of meaning can be recognized. Being health-promoting structures in towns, great importance is attached in particular to natural elements and open spaces that are green and rich in vegetation. The availability of open spaces is, however, not granted to all town people and also the development of new open spaces is often not possible due to a lack of resources. As a consequence, given urban structures should be used at best and also the potential of vegetation-free and unused or inaccessible spaces should not be neglected for a health-promoting open space utilization. Thus, the paper at hand goes beyond the consideration of vegetation-rich spaces, comparing the health-enhancing effects of divergent types of open spaces. So, in fact, the aim of this study is to identify open space specific (feel-good) factors, which can be taken into account in urban and open space planning processes in order to ensure that the urban population uses public open spaces in a health-promoting way and appropriates them. The focus is on the identification of factors that influence the use, perception and appropriation of urban open spaces as well as the psychological well-being of open space users, in particular the current well-being during open space use. The core of this multistage research study is a fieldwork survey of 216 town people in seven heterogenic, urban open spaces carried out with the help of a standardized face-to-face interrogation. Besides different types of green areas (green spaces), the survey has its focus on water-rich areas (blue spaces) as well as a sealed open space (grey space). On the basis of a descriptive-statistic evaluation two further surveys follow. In them, 92 users and non-users of a problematic open space as well as 158 users of a novel type of open space will be asked about their patterns of perception, use and appropriation. This study broadens the actual state of research by proving on an empirical basis that not only green or blue but also grey open spaces do have a positive influence on a health-promoting urban development. Thus, it is shown that open spaces can be used and perceived in a versatile way, and that, regardless of the type of open space, their use is associated with increased positive well-being. Moreover, it indicates factors which affect behavioral pattern, perception as well as wellbeing of town people using certain open spaces. Next to personal aspects and factors that are independent from open spaces, those factors which are specific to open spaces also play a certain role within this context. In addition to that, this research work stresses that new types of open spaces are used by the urban population in their free time. This should encourage city planners and researchers to think about new types of urban open spaces as these are needed in order to face current social and economical challenges with regard to city planning. Furthermore, the paper at hand makes clear that different disciplines call for a quantitatively and qualitatively good supply of open spaces in the city in order to improve the living conditions there. The qualities of specific open spaces as well as the area-wide provision of different types of open spaces ensure the success of public open spaces as health promoting structure in the city.


  • Chair of Landscape Architecture [214110]