The Restorative Potential of Commercial Streets

Paula Barros, Vikas Mehta, Paul Brindley, Razieh Zandieh

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With cities continuing to grow at rapid rates across the globe, daily exposure to traffic, noise, crowding, information overload and other stressors have exacerbated urban dwellers’ need for restoration. Yet, how to enhance the restorative potential of urban environments remains a vastly understudied research topic. This article explores the perceived restorative potential of commercial streets in the Boston metropolitan area (US) and Belo Horizonte (Brazil). Triangulation of data (derived from face-to-face interviews, unstructured observations, and social media) and cross-cultural analysis indicate that commercial streets can be planned, designed and managed as destinations for restoration. This study shows that immediate social context, urban design qualities, land use, managerial strategies, meaningful aspects, built and natural elements, in certain combinations, tend to enhance the perceived restorative potential of the commercial streets. While there were numerous similarities in output from the two countries, there were also significant differences.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLandscape Research
Early online date4 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021


  • Urban design
  • built environment
  • health and well-being
  • place attachment
  • psychological restoration
  • restorative environment
  • restorative perceptions
  • streetscape
  • stress recovery
  • urban planning


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