Do people feel themselves more safe and happy in good looking, well maintained environments? This question keeps researches busy for many years. Which factors are key within this question? What is liveability exactly and how can it be accomplished?
Liveability is a broad concept.
This means that each individual has its own definition which is based on its frame of references. Yet, there is a general description: The degree to which an area or community is attractive and / or suitable to live in or work. Various factors influences the livability of an area, including physical, social and economic factors. We focus on the physical factors.
The effect of broken objects in an environment
A well-known study which describes the relationship between the physical environment and behaviour / emotions is The Broken Windows Theory. This theory says that people feel more safe in a controlled and clean environment. Signs of decay have effect on as well how secure an environment feels, as on the levels of (small) criminal behaviour. Think of a broken window: if not repaired, more windows will follow. This is because a broken window suggests demolition which unknowingly also suggest that this behaviour is okay and can be copied. Imitating behaviour shall lead to a chain reaction of small criminal behaviour which affects the liveability of an environment. This small, initially innocent offence can be the cause of a much bigger problem: dilapidation, hassle and insecurity.
Why people choose for an environment
The secret is to create a safe and liveable environment where people feel themselves at home. The choice to settle in a certain environment is not only based on the state of the building, but also on the quality of the surroundings. The condition and appearance of fixed decorations, buildings and shops, the experience, if environments are clean and the amount of green contribute to a qualitative living environment.
The choice to settle also applies for public areas
The choice to visit or settle in an environment does not only apply for a home, it also applies for public areas. An example is a dutch shopping centre. A dutch colour and experience expert describes in her blog the effect of this shopping centre on visitors. On its website, the shopping centre is described as a high level experience and shopping centre but in real, the experience is far away: it is overall grey and dark, the interior does not surprise and there is little colour usage. These facts cause a strong decrease in the amount of visitors which causes shop owners to leave the centre. Simply because the centre is not attractive and does not look very inviting.
Create a positive environment
An inviting environment can be created through positive physical influences. This can be achieved by discouraging negative behaviour, take away causes and by stimulating positive behaviour.
A clean (and easy to clean) environment stimulates to keep it clean and intact. This also applies for quickly repaired and well maintained signage and building elements. Result: the environment stays attractive, customers shall return, employees are happier, renting and selling becomes more easy and it has a positive effect on as well your sales as company image.