The physical environment of positive places: Exploring differences between age groups

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Features of the physical environment have an impact on the human behaviour. Thus, planners and policymakers around the world should aim at providing environments that are perceived as being of good quality, in which the residents enjoy spending time and moving around in. It is widely acknowledged that urban environmental quality associates with well-being, but there is currently very little research examining which features of urban environments people of different ages perceive as appealing in their living environments. Individuals experience different age-related developmental environments throughout their life course.

Thus, the usage and perceptions of different spaces can also differ between various age groups. Public Participation GIS datasets collected in 2009 and 2011 in Helsinki Metropolitan Area were used to study places perceived as being positive by adults (n = 3119) and children (n = 672). Participants marked points on a map that were overlaid with GIS data to study whether the physical environment of positive places of different age groups differed. The results demonstrated that the physical environment differs significantly in the positive places of different age groups. The places of adult age groups were characterized by green, blue and commercial spaces, whereas sports, residential and commercial spaces characterize children's and adolescents' places. Older adults' places were found to be closest to home, while adolescents' places were the most distant. Providing appealing environments for all age groups in one setting remains problematic but should nevertheless be strived for, especially in the urban context where a constant competition over different usages of space occurs
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S85-S91
Issue numberSupplement
Early online date13 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Built environment; Physical environment; Positive place; Perceptions; PPGIS; Place mapping; Life Course; Motivating environments


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