As the country's population increases, it is worth determining what types of residential settings people currently residing in the low density suburbs environments would prefer- simply because those environments would need to increase their density to mitigate sprawl. To inform the creation of high density residential living, this study seeks to identify specific characteristics of a dense settlement most acceptable to people wanting suburban living. Residential suburban communities, as in the United States, often have low dwelling unit densities, as antidote to the congestion and crowding of the urban core environment. Primarily consisting of single family homes on individual plots of land with private yards and wide streets; these developments are becoming more ubiquitous despite the role of both the automobile and land conversion as major contributors to the high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The question this study asks is, `what residential physical and spatial configurations are a preferred environmental quality and/or are perceived as low density by people currently living in low density suburban environments?' In other words, can we design a desirable environment that is perceived as low density, while actually utilizing less land area, thus being denser than existing low density counterparts? To investigate this question four residential elements (housing typologies street width, set back depth, and tree coverage) were systematically configured in images of a street scene. These images were the subject of a survey sent to 400 randomly selected inhabitants of Beaverton, Oregon who were asked to choose the images they felt were the most spacious and most preferred from a sets of scenes using discrete choice modeling. Results indicated that the strongest predictors of preference and spaciousness lie in the relationship between tree coverage and setback depth- thus the areas where housing design may be used to increase density.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. June 2013 Major: Architecture. Advisor: Julia Robinson, PhD. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 134 pages, appendices A-F.
Lilli, Erin Elizabeth.
Spaciousness & preference: a study in the perception of density in the suburban residential built environment.
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