Workplaces landscape and human health

Journal Artical

Quality of Sweatshop Factory Outdoor Environments Matters for Workers’ Stress and Anxiety: A Participatory Smartphone-Photography Survey

Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2019, IF= 7.649

Stress and anxiety are pervasive mental health problems in “sweatshop” manufacturing factories, leading to depression, violence, and suicide. Previous studies ascribed workers’ mental health problems to social-demographic and employment factors. Few have explored whether, and to what extent, the outdoor environment impacts workers’ stress and anxiety status. Without this understanding, we lose the opportunity to create evidence-based environmental interventions that promote mental health for tens of millions of sweatshop workers worldwide. We chose the flagship factory of a world leading manufacturing firm in the electronic industry (FF hereafter) and its surrounding urban area in the Longhua District, Shenzhen City, China as the study site. FF is a critical downstream node of the 21st century global supply chain and a primary outsourcing contractor and sub-assembler of international corporations from the U.S., Europe, and Japan. It is representative of many manufacturing factories, often called sweatshops, in countries like China, India, Mexico, and Hungary. This participatory smartphone-photography survey (PSPS) study focuses on a large manufacturing factory in China where many suicides have occurred. 79 factory workers photographed 237 outdoor factory sites and then answered questions about the environmental qualities of the photographed sites, as well as their stress and anxiety status. After controlling for sociodemographic and employment factors, the regression analysis shows environmental factors collectively were significantly associated with workers’ stress and anxiety status, and several specific environmental factors showed a significant association. This study investigates workers’ perceptions of the outdoor environment in sweatshop manufacturing factories and provides recommendations to help build more supportive environments to reduce workers’ stress and anxiety.

Creating Restorative Nearby Green Spaces for Knowledge Workers: Theoretical Mechanisms, Site Evaluation Criteria, and Design Guidelines

Landscape Architecture Frontiers, 2022

Knowledge workers drive social and economic development in contemporary cities but often exhibit poor psychological and physical health because of sedentary work, long-term and intense mental labor, and high-level occupational competition. Thus, providing high-quality restorative green spaces in knowledge workers’ proximity to promote their health and well-being has become an important and pressing need. Although the multiple health benefits of proximity to green spaces have been highlighted, the existing planning and design practices are not well supported by scientific theories and evidence. This study interprets the health benefits of proximity to green spaces in work environments considering four theoretical mechanisms: stress reduction, attention restoration and landscape preference, physical activity promotion, and sensory enrichment through an integrative literature review. Next, the paper identifies the key environmental characteristics of green spaces that can enhance the health and well-being of knowledge workers. In addition, it develops a set of criteria for evaluating the restorative capacity of existing sites and a set of guidelines to design restorative nearby green spaces, and proposes a simple paradigm to connect interdisciplinary research and practice.

Research of Landscape Planning and Design Strategies for Promoting Sense of Safety in the University Campus

Landscape Architecture, 2021

With the frequent occurrence of campus crimes, it has become an important and urgent research topic on how to improve the sense of safety in the university campus through the planning and design of the functions, spaces and landscapes of university campus. Previous theoretical and empirical studies have proved that such planning and design can affect users’ perception of college campus and subsequently achieve the objective of enhancing campus safety and inhibiting crimes and bad behavior. Based on relevant theories of sense of safety and the research on the factors influencing the sense of safety in China and other countries, this paper puts forward the planning and design strategies for enhancing the sense of safety from the campus location planning, space planning and design, plant landscape design, planning and design for women’s low sense of safety, and safety management measures.

Landscape Design of Digital Economy Office Park to Promote Research & Development Staff’s Health and Wellbeing: Theories, Strategies, and approaches

South Architecture, 2020

Construction of a new type of infrastructure to accommodate the core goal of developing the digital economy will be a key strategy for China to become the world’s leading economy. Attracting top talented research and development (R&D) staff and caring for their physical and mental health and well-being is the keys determinant of this strategy. However, researchers have found that digital economy R&D staff are often in poor health conditions with little access to a restorative environment. According to the literature review, we found little literature has examined the impact of landscape design on R&D staff’s health and well-being, while the studies focused on the human health benefits of green landscapes provide strong theoretical and empirical evidence. This study summarized five environmental characteristics of the digital economy parks and six physical and mental health problem of R&D staff. And we propose six key theoretical mechanisms by that landscape design affects the staff’s physical and mental health and well-being: attention restoration, stress reduction, physical activity promotion, social capital enhancement, ecological products and services supply, and infectious disease prevention. By identifying the key landscape types and elements, we proposed a series of landscape design strategies for digital economy parks.

Book or Book Chapter

Landscape Empowerment: A Participatory Design Approach to Create Restorative Environments for Assembly Line Workers in the Foxconn Factory

Springer, 2021

This book explores potential ways to improve the current situation of industrial parks. The book employs a bottom-up design process and participatory design: the vulnerable group of workers in Qinghu were intimately involved in the research, site investigation and final design, creating a more relevant and resilient outcome. This book developed an approach of gentle design: Light and low-cost design interventions to significantly improve quality of living environments in the extremely difficult sites. The first part of the book investigates on the geographies of sweatshops, providing in-depth research on different aspects and understanding the working and living status of Foxconn workers and other related population. The second part of the book develops potential landscape planning and designs in different aspects and scales, which targets to promote environmental quality, health and the community by demonstrating how landscape and urban design can facilitate new regional visions for achieving a good ecological and social environment for people who work under stressful living and working conditions.