Restorative Boulevards

Urban design elements to promote mental wellbeing in inner-city arterial streets of the Frankfurt Rhein-Main agglomeration, Germany

Neurourbanism is an emerging research field where we collaborate as urban planners with neuroscientists from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin to investigate how the social and built environment influences mental health and wellbeing. While a growing body of literature relates urban green spaces to mental health and wellbeing, only a few studies draw attention to urban "grey" spaces such as streets, pedestrianized areas and squares. We argue that there is a need to investigate how urban grey spaces can actively promote mental health and wellbeing in the face of dynamic urbanisation and that there is an opportunity to re-develop "restorative Boulevards" as the population in many European urban agglomerations shift towards more green travel modes. Besides reducing motorized traffic and injecting more urban greenery, we hypothesis that there is an untapped potential for restorative effects in improving street network connectivity, diverse land use, building density, pedestrian visibility, visual complexity and ground floor programming. In 4 user evaluation studies, we will couple spatial analysis of large arterial streets in the Frankfurt Rhein Main area with psychophysiological data including fRMI data on city dwellers’ stress response. As a result, we aim to contribute to the emerging field of neurourbanism with a new methodology to study urban design in relation to mental health using Space Syntax, and a first model of urban design factors, guidelines and strategies to improve the restorative effects in urban boulevards validated based on new empiric data in an urban agglomeration in Europe.


Urban Health Games Research Group, Architecture, TU Darmstadt

  • Jun.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Knöll
  • Lanqing Gu, M.Arch.

In cooperation with

Research Group Neurourbanism, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

  • Prof. Dr. med. Mazda Adli
  • Dipl.-Psych. Annika Dimitrov

Time Period

March 2021 to February 2024


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)