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Surprising Science

Green Spaces Help You Live Longer

People who live one standard deviation above the green space mean experience a decrease in mental distress that is about one-third as large as the difference between being single and being married.

What’s the Latest Development?

In terms of urban landscaping, New York City’s Central Park is a major achievement. Built in 1859 to contest Europe’s monopoly on sophisticated city-living, the ample greenery of Central Park contributes to the quality of life New Yorkers have come to enjoy. In fact, “New York City now boasts the single fastest increase in life expectancy of any city in the U.S, to the point where its citizens’ average lifespan—82—now equals that of Japan.” Crucial to the park’s design was the exclusion of urban intrusion. All of its transverse roads, for example, were designed to be sunk eight feet below the surface.

What’s the Big Idea?

The connection between green space and longevity has also been established by the British Household Panel Survey which, by asking 5,000 mostly-urban households, sought to discover if all things being equal, would the same person be happier when he lived in urban areas with more greenery than in areas with less? “What they found was a clear relationship between the amount of local green space, mental distress, and life satisfaction. Specifically, the more green space, the higher the overall life satisfaction and the lower the mental distress. … Green design, it seems, isn’t just environmentally beneficial. It benefits us in far more immediate—and selfishly visible—ways.”

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Read it at Scientific American

This essay describes a model for urban development that takes into account and makes use of the externalities that exist in the built environment. Buildings and the people that inhabitat them makes neighborhoods and vice versa the value of a building is in its locations. How can better frame this relationship between an object and its environment? How can develop strategies for a integral area development that learn from the best global examples?

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