Towards Socially Restorative Urbanism: Exploring Social and Spatial Implications for Urban Restorative Experience


  • Kevin Thwaites



This paper explores ideas that might help to stimulate new avenues of inquiry into how those involved in shaping the urban environment might begin to restore a better balance of human benefit and urban form in approaches to urban regeneration and design. At present, growing evidence suggests that our capability to create socially sustainable urban regeneration and design may be compromised by over-privileging economic interests and rapid delivery over social relevance. Particularly in mixed-use residential development, an important consequence may be that people experience less of a sense of control over their homes and neighbourhoods, which diminishes opportunities for territorial expressions important to life quality and social cohesion. 

The paper begins by discussing the concept of restorative environments and asserts that there are important social dimensions to human restorative experience, not yet widely investigated, that can be related to the form of towns and cities. We suggest that a better understanding of these environments can be found in phenomenological perspectives on human–environment relations. These perspectives provide foundations for more evolutionary approaches to urban morphology that raise questions around the balance of control between professional processes and user-modification in urban place making. Specifically identified and discussed are social processes that connect territorial expression with opportunities people have to develop and sustain self-esteem.

The paper concludes by suggesting that new research directions in urbanism might productively explore the interface where the need to establish structurally stable infrastructure may gradually give way to more indeterminate and evolutionary processes of occupation and territorial negotiation.


Download data is not yet available.


How to Cite

Thwaites, K. (2012). Towards Socially Restorative Urbanism: Exploring Social and Spatial Implications for Urban Restorative Experience. Landscape Review, 13(2).