Exploring the influence of perceived urban change on residents' place attachment

Timo von Wirth*, Adrienne Grêt-Regamey, Corinne Moser, Michael Stauffacher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)
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Significant changes in urban environments pose challenges for residents' well-being and individuals' affective bonds to places. Place attachment has been identified as an essential indicator for these person-place bonds. Surprisingly, place attachment has rarely been studied in its response to the perception of change. This study uses data of N = 746 residents from a postal survey to explore the influence of perceived changes in the urban environment on residents' place attachments in Zurich, Switzerland.The study found significant relations between urban change and place attachment. When change in the urban environment was perceived as an attractive upgrade and as (still) familiar, it was positively associated with place attachment. Despite its limitations (e.g., the cross-sectional design), the study indicates that urban design, at least indirectly, can influence residents' relatedness to places. We suggest that dynamic aspects of environmental change need to be articulated more explicitly in place attachment theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-82
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research presented in this article was carried out as a part of the project “Sustainable Urban Patterns”, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation's National Research Program (NRP65) “New Urban Quality”, Research Grant: 406540-130578. We are thankful to Meret Wandeler, Institute for Contemporary Art Research, ZHdK, Zurich, for granting us the right to use the image series taken within the long-term photographic observation in the city of Schlieren ( http://www.beobachtung-schlieren.ch ). In addition, we acknowledge the valuable collaboration with the city of Schlieren, represented by the Head of Urban Development Barbara Meyer. We thank three anonymous reviewer for their detailed and constructive comments that helped improving the quality of the manuscript. Finally, we thank Nora Muggli and Ralph Hansmann, both ETH Zurich, for valuable inputs on earlier versions of this work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


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