Residents' Attachment to New Urbanist versus Conventional Suburban Developments

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Title: Residents' Attachment to New Urbanist versus Conventional Suburban Developments
Author: Hashas, Mine Hatun
Advisors: Henry Sanoff, Committee Chair
Abstract: Living in satisfying environments is important for individual well-being. Therefore, community well-being depends on enduring and vital community residential environments. In order to create such environments, planners, designers, and policymakers need to understand the structures that cause residents to feel attached to an environment. Before people will feel safe and secure in a residential environment—before they will care for it, pay attention to it, and commit to living in it—they must first feel attached to it. Suburban developments are said to lack the physical and social conditions necessary for the attachment process. New Urbanist (NU) neighborhoods have been suggested as alternatives to conventional suburban (CS) developments because they are claimed to be more viable in social and physical terms. Consequently, it is argued that NU neighborhoods create a greater sense of community and place identity. In spite of these claims, little empirical study has been conducted to assess the appeal and effectiveness of NU developments. This study aims to understand why people choose to move to and remain in a neotraditional suburban residential environment versus a traditional suburban residential environment. Do NU and CS development residents? characteristics differ from each other? Do their residential environment attachments differ? What are the social and physical features that foster attachment? Do personal predispositions and residential choices play a role in attachment to residential environments? Does more interaction with residential environment result in stronger attachment? These questions are answered through a comparative case study that adapted correlational, factor, and stepwise regression analyses. The study used observations and questionnaires. Meadowmont and Southern Village in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, were selected as the NU residential neighborhood cases. Lake Hogan Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Preston Village in Cary, North Carolina, were selected as the CS residential neighborhoods. The NU and CS sites were matched by approximate age, size, and residents' economic level. The results of this study are expected to shed light on the relative effectiveness of the neotraditional and conventional suburban developments in terms of the opportunities they provide for their residents to live in a better social and physical environment. The findings of the study will contribute to a knowledge base that may support the creation of physically and socially more viable residential environments for future generations in the United States.
Date: 2005-07-02
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Design

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