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Are Cityscapes Making Us Depressed?


For city dwellers, keeping oneself healthy and happy may be more complicated than exercise and good diet; it may also have a lot to do with the design of the surrounding buildings. Environmental psychologist Colin Ellard says that boring cityscapes can contribute to stress, addiction and depression.

Research conducted by Ellard and others suggests that people faced with a long stretch of sidewalk and blank façades, tend to walk faster, keep their heads down or aimlessly search for something of interest. More complicated sections of cities, like those with bustling shops and restaurants, tend to have the opposite effect; they are more health-giving, Ellard says.

Here & Now’s Robin Young speaks with Ellard about his research and how urban design may have a lot to do with public health.


  • Colin Ellard, environmental psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo in Canada. His latest book is “Places of the Heart.” He tweets @WhereAmINow.

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