This report sets out the main findings of a review developed for the Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing. The aim was to understand and identify how the physical environment impacts mental capital and wellbeing.
Data was gathered through an extensive review of 280 academic articles about the physical environment and its direct and indirect impacts on learning, mental health, work, learning difficulties and mental capital. The review is multi-disciplinary in focus and multi-level
in nature, from the small-scale level (e.g. light, noise) to the large scale (e.g. urban neighbourhood, rural area).
The following main issues were identifi ed:
The signifi cant factors contributing to mental capital and wellbeing relate to our sensory stimulation - that is, what we see, smell, touch, taste and hear.
Noise and light are significant intervening variables for all the Foresight Challenges, as is the quality of the fabric of the built environment, which affects
our visual and tactile senses and our sense of safety.
Layout and way finding impact our sense of safety and contentedness.
Access to nature and the ‘natural’ are signifi cant contributors to individual mental capital and wellbeing.
Designers and developers who create our cities and buildings, and those who manage and maintain them, should refer to the evidence available and use it to
design and manage the environment better for mental capital and wellbeing.