Nature, people and place: informing the design of urban environments in harmony with Nature through the Space/Nature Syntax

Karen Munro, David Grierson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The Biophilia Hypothesis holds that there is a connection between humans and Nature which is innate: that when this connection is provided the human mind performs at peak, and when it is absent the mind is in a state of deterioration. Increasingly research supports the Biophilia Hypothesis: studies show that a connection to Nature provides psychological, physical, and emotional benefits. Concurrently, the world’s urban population is rapidly growing and is expected to reach 70% of the world’s total by 2050. Thus a dichotomy emerges: how do we maintain this vital and valuable human connection with Nature in an increasingly urbanising world? Building on previous preliminary publications, this article will update the findings of a novel, cross-disciplinary methodology called Space/Nature Syntax as developed and applied at Arcosanti’s “urban laboratory” in the Arizona desert. The findings, which support relationships between visual connectivity to Nature and certain social interactions, present a unique understanding of the influence of Nature on human interaction with people and place. It will also present how informed design can fulfil the biophilic need and allow for the essential human/Nature connection to thrive, taking steps towards understanding how cities can be built in harmony with Nature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLifelong Learning and Education in Healthy and Sustainable Cities
EditorsU.M. Azeiteiro, M. Akerman, W. Leal Filho, A.F.F. Setti, L.L. Brandli
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9783319694733, 9783319694740
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2017

Publication series

NameWorld Sustainability Series
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
ISSN (Print)2199-7373


  • biophilia
  • connectdeness to nature
  • urban public space
  • spatial analsis
  • space syntax
  • social interaction
  • observations
  • environment related behaviour


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