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Title:Landscape design criteria for creating a restorative environment in outdoor areas of Ikenberry Commons Residence Halls
Author(s):Chandrashekar, Reena
Department / Program:Landscape Architecture
Discipline:Landscape Architecture
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Attention Restoration Theory (ART) Being Away
Abstract:On a daily basis, university students face significant challenges in sustaining their capacity to pay attention. Students are involved in numerous activities throughout the day that require them to draw on their attentional capacity – a capacity that often fatigues before the students have completed their work for the day. Past research demonstrates that taking breaks in restorative environments allows students to restore their capacity to pay attention and thus recover from mental fatigue. Attention Restoration Theory (ART) posits that exposure to nature, whether physical or visual, is restorative. However, research on the specific elements of the physical environment and design that promote restoration is insufficient. This thesis focuses on understanding those elements and generating landscape design criteria, using one of the four restorative components proposed by ART—being away. We wanted to see which landscape components students rated as creating a sense of being away in a restorative outdoor space. The site chosen for this investigation is Ikenberry Commons Residence Halls on the campus of the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. First, we evaluated the existing conditions of the space and how students were using it, through observations, surveys, and interviews. Next, we distributed photo surveys of different design elements around campus and asked students to rate the perceived restorativeness of these spaces. Based on these results, we developed three designs for the space and held a focus group discussion with dormitory residents to discover students’ opinions about these designs and whether they created a sense of “being away.” The results revealed that aesthetically pleasing bodies of water, artwork, and enhanced tree cover are the main landscape elements that effectively stimulate a sense of being away. The findings suggest that these landscape elements foster restoration and universities should provide them in dormitory complexes and other settings where students seek restorative experiences.
Issue Date:2015-04-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Reena Chandrashekar
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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