The sustainable development of the built environment is advocated in both theory and
policy. Social sustainability could be improved if the built environment is designed to
encourage social interactions between residents, which enhance feelings of sense of
community and social cohesion. Privacy is a vital component of an individual's social
interaction process. However, the relationship between privacy and social interaction is
rarely discussed in sustainable development literature. In order for social interactions
between neighbours to be positive it is beneficial if levels of privacy in the home are
sufficient for residents to feel comfortable. Therefore, for a housing development to be
sustainable it is necessary that privacy in the home is addressed when designing to
encourage social interactions between neighbours. The specific relationships under
scrutiny in this thesis are: the impact of design on social interactions between neighbours;
the impact of design on privacy in the home; and the effect of levels of privacy in the home
on the relationship between design and social interactions.
Primary data was collected across 13 sustainable housing developments. Sixty five
indicators were measured using; a site survey checklist to collect data on physical features
affected by eight principles of sustainable design, and a household survey to collect data on
the behaviour and characteristics of the residents. Statistical analyses were used to test the
nature and extent of the hypothesised relationships.
The findings show that a number of physical features are significantly associated with
privacy in the home and social interactions between neighbours. Not all features had a
positive association, however private outdoor space to the front of dwellings and clearly
marked boundaries between properties are beneficial for both privacy in the home and
social interactions between neighbours.
A comprehensive list of features of sustainable housing developments was established and
operationalised as a series of indicators which could be used in future empirical research
on housing developments. This research also contributes new empirical evidence on the
effect of sustainable design features for the built environment on residents' behaviour,
particularly social interactions and privacy in the home.
Permanent link to this resource: https://doi.org/10.24384/yvmc-5c61
Faculty of Technology, Design and EnvironmentSchool of the Built Environment
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
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