For the length of this course I have chosen to explore the relationship between urban design and the effects it can have on city dwellers. Recently, mental health concerns have surged to the forefront of our society and have inspired a wave of research into the mind and the internal and external factors that may affect it. Many studies have shown that city dwellers have a shockingly high risk of developing anxiety, depression or other mood disorders compared to those living in less urban environments. Factors such as the Canyon Effect, litter, graffiti and the cramped and compact style of a city all have a hand in creating a stressful environment conducive to increasing the risk of multiple mental health conditions. The ways that have been said to ease or prevent city induced stress and moods are shockingly few. Many psychologists and researchers suggest that being in or around nature is the best method however it is not easily or always accessible.
For this project I have explored metropolitan areas, observing the aspects of its design and photographing them in order to invite viewers to take a step back and start to see their city in these individual elements and not just as the place in which they live. From skyline to the streets, I have singled out subjects that directly represent the components of urban design that researchers have pointed out as the biggest factors in affecting mental health, including street canyons, litter, graffiti and a lack of real, unmanufactured nature. In taking an observer’s approach, viewers are forced to become more actively aware of where they live, how it’s built and perhaps what changes can be made to future urban design and development.