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Contemplative Landscapes: Toward Healthier Built Environments

Olszewska-Guizzo Agnieszka Anna


This review aims to show the current state of 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 and quiet contemplation) as
opposed to active interactions with the landscapes such as horticulture therapy and meditation. 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. At present, one can observe strong
demand from policymakers for generating scientific evidence-based knowledge to provide recommendations for urban
design and the maintenance of green spaces. The Contemplative Landscape Model is an operationalized construct which
includes esthetic, 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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