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Contemplative Landscapes: Towards Healthier Built Environments

Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo


This review aims to show the current state of the knowledge in the area of the visual quality of landscapes in urbanized areas and their influence on people’s mental health and well-being. This falls under the passive recreation and passive exposure to the environmental stimuli present in our cities (such as walking in nature, quiet contemplation) as opposed to active interactions with the landscapes such as horticulture therapy, meditation, etc. Passive exposure to natural or built environments can shape our mental health patterns throughout the life cycle.

Although we know that the quantity of green spaces in the cities can improve the well-being of city inhabitants and contact with natural environments can alleviate various psychological disorders, it is also likely that the quality of green spaces, including seemingly irrelevant landscape design nuances, can play a more important role for our mental health.

Currently, one can observe a strong demand from policy makers for generating scientific evidence-based knowledge to provide recommendations for urban design and the maintenance of green spaces. The Contemplative Landscape Model (CLM) is an operationalised construct which includes aesthetic, environmental and mental health values of landscapes, and could serve as a useful tool to assist in the current need for knowledge. However, more research with an emphasis on causal relationships is needed.


Contemplative; Landscape; Exposure; Urban; Mental health

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