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An application of measuring visual and non-visual sensorial experiences of nature for children within primary school spaces: Child–nature–distance case studies in Glasgow, Scotland

Phuong Thanh To (Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
David Grierson (Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)

Archnet-IJAR

ISSN: 2631-6862

Article publication date: 5 November 2019

Issue publication date: 28 May 2020

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171

Abstract

Purpose

Proximity to nature is essential to a child’s development. Well-designed educational environments are crucial to supporting this proximity, particularly in the early years of schooling. The purpose of this paper is to measure children’s experiences of nature within three primary school spaces at various locations in Glasgow, Scotland. The methodology for measuring children’s visual and non-visual sensory experiences is developed to evaluate the connection between naturalness values and spatial environmental qualities across varying “Child–Nature–Distance” ranges.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach associates children’s multiple layers of sensory modalities with particular attributes of the spatial environment within primary schools to determine the level of naturalness that children experience, in both internal and external spaces.

Findings

The study finds that children’s experiences are significantly influenced by factors relating to urban setting, built environment master planning, architectural features and interior design.

Research limitations/implications

Apart from primary school architecture for children, this methodology could be fully developed to the comprehensive human–nature relationship under the impacts of physical features and societal of other diversified environments in a future study. However, the offering reasonable primary school architecture for a proper children’s multi-sensorial experience with natural environment cannot thoroughly established with a quantitative aspect by the present study only. More qualitative research is recommended to examine the process of altering from “cause” to “perceived” nature of users’ cognitions, attitudes and behaviours within the exposure proximity to nature.

Practical implications

The methodology for measuring visual and non-visual sensorial experiences of nature, and its application to children’s learning and leisure spaces within primary school architecture could offer a tool for assessing current schools, and evaluating future design proposals for new schools.

Originality/value

The authors argue that the applicationof this method can support design decision making for refurbishing schools at the micro level, and in planning urban development involving proposals for new schools at the macro level.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was assisted by the Glasgow Academy in Glasgow, Scotland. The authors would like to express gratitude to all staff and teachers of three primary schools of Kelvinbridge, Milngavie and Newlands for their support.

Citation

To, P.T. and Grierson, D. (2020), "An application of measuring visual and non-visual sensorial experiences of nature for children within primary school spaces: Child–nature–distance case studies in Glasgow, Scotland", Archnet-IJAR, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 167-186. https://doi.org/10.1108/ARCH-05-2019-0139

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited