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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The scenic beauty of streetscapes : an assessment of commuting corridors in Vancouver Narukage, Miki


While it has been well studied that nature in urban parks provides aesthetic values in the urban landscape, limited studies on the aesthetics of streetscapes have been done. The current study aims to seek out the biophysical components that can significantly enhance the beauty of the scenery of urban streets. The target landscape is the busiest commuting corridors located in the residential area of Vancouver and Burnaby, BC. Sixty images showing the driving perspective, retrieved from Google Street View, were used as the sample stimuli. The study comprised two steps of analysis. First, the number of pixels occupied by the tested 24 environment variables that were suggested by previous literature review to have influence on scenic judgments for each image were counted using Photoshop. Second, 47 university students and staff working in the University of British Columbia took part in a perceptual survey where they judged the perceived scenic beauty of sample images on a 10-point scale. Then, the correlation between the pixel counts of the tested variables and the Scenic Beauty Estimates points calculated from the raw ratings was examined. As the result of stepwise regression analysis, 5 variables were observed to be the most prominent predictors of scenic beauty of the streetscape. The visual area of trees, green grass, hedges, and the symmetrical arrangement of trees aligned with the sides of streets, could increase the estimates of beauty, while the presence of power lines could decrease it. The finding that images with more vegetation are appreciated by the participants as more beautiful agrees with the preceding literature. The study methodology allowed us to know the magnitude of the influence of each variable on scenic judgments, and it enabled us to propose the optimal choices of vegetation types and spatial allocation of trees for better design of urban streets. These findings contribute to our understanding of urban streetscape patterns, which may be eventually used to improve the psychological and physical health of urban dwellers.

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