Preferences of Social Interaction for Environmental Attributes Among Grandparents Who Are Taking Care of Grandchildren in Two Chinese Residential Communities Located in Shanghai, China

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Virginia Tech


The present thesis examines questionnaire responses regarding optimal environmental attributes of public outdoor spaces for Chinese grandparents who are taking care of their grandchildren within selected urban residential communities in Shanghai, China. This thesis also assesses the needs of these grandparents providing childcare against the environmental attributes of urban public spaces. It uses the results to formulate design recommendations that will facilitate increased social interaction between grandparents with grandchildren and other persons in open public spaces of residential communities. Public spaces are often excellent locations for social interaction between grandparents with other persons within communities. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of Chinese grandparents providing childcare for their grandchildren, and many choose to spend time with grandchildren in these public open spaces. However, the needs and preferences of this demographic do not necessarily align with those of the general population.

The current literature has identified five primary environmental attributes (access, comfort, opportunities of meeting, potential sensory elements, visibility) related to social interaction, each composed of a variety of landscape elements and characteristics. A framework was constructed based on these five environmental attributes and a variety of landscape elements and characteristics, and used to formulate a questionnaire for 46 grandparents, who take care of their grandchildren and live in high-rise buildings were surveyed. The selected participants were witnessed watching over their grandchildren in open spaces or the accompanying facilities and were asked to express a level of preference for a series of landscape elements presented in a questionnaire. The survey also included questions regarding demographic information. Descriptive and inferential analysis were then carried out through the survey data.

The intended result of the study involved establishing a set of landscape architectural design recommendations that could be used in order to meet the preferences of this portion of society. Ideally, the findings will assist those involved in designing and managing outdoor environments in identifying the most salient environmental attributes for this growing sector of the Chinese community. The study could also help to prioritize interventions aimed at improving the use of open spaces and promoting social interaction among grandparents or grandparents with other neighbors. The approach also identified which landscape elements were most likely to attract grandparents to visit and stay in neighborhoods' open spaces longer with their grandchildren. Ideally, an outdoor public space designed following this set of design recommendations would contain the preferred environmental attributes and landscape elements of grandparents and their grandchildren and would provide more opportunities for social interaction.



The materials include two files, the first file is the thesis, the second file is table 16.