evaluating existing environments for ‘Wartezustand’ refugee children’s physical activity in Berlin
Doctoral dissertation, 2017-2021
Jun.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Knöll, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
Prof. Dr. Takemi Sugiyama, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
A body of studies showed that children with a refugee background are always trapped in uncertain transit (wartezustand), lost stable living environments, and are worried about neighbourhood safety, which forms disadvantageous built environments for them. Research has identified that built environmental attributes are associated with children’s physical activity (PA); refugee children are not sufficiently physically active, resulting in consequences on their health and development. Since refugee children live in distinct environments compared to non-refugee, it is essential to identify environmental factors associated with their PA. The literature review of this dissertation summarised the current evidence of associations between built environment attributes and refugee children’s PA that key PA barriers were limited play space, a lack of neighbourhood safety, and the importance of informal PA space. It also identified three gaps between spatial characteristics, perceived environmental barriers/facilitators and active built environments for refugee children’s PA. The dissertation aims to examine the following three research questions, with a view to facilitating:
a. What are spatial characteristics of/around refugee accommodations associated with refugee children’s PA?
b. What are perceived environmental barriers and facilitators of refugee children’s PA in/around refugee accommodations, from both adults’ and refugee children’s perspectives?
c. What is an active built environment for refugee children’s PA?
Space syntax theory was used to analyse their spatial characteristics in micro-, and meso-environments qualitatively and quantitatively. Data on refugee children’s overall PA time and identified playfield were collected with staff surveys and schedules. Furthermore, the detailed PA timelines of fifteen refugee children (6 to 13 years old) and PA environments’ evaluations were captured by interviewing and drawing workshops through gathered questionnaires of children and parents in one representative accommodation. Semi-structured interviews and three days’ photovoice with three children from the same accommodation were conducted to get an in-depth understanding of children perceived built environments for PA. Additionally, various data sources and measurements were explored to assess active built environments for refugee children’s PA.
For spatial characteristics of refugee accommodation (micro), results indicated that PA space size was not related to children’s PA. The important predictor was the presence of accessible and open corridors combined with lower step depths to internal and external PA spaces, which provided higher global integration values. Of even higher importance was fewer floors in the spatial characteristics that help refugee children traversed more accessible from their living units to destinate PA space. In meso environments, children spent more time on PA, and more active PA spaces could be found if neighbourhoods located in residential areas with no highways/railways go across.
Besides, refugee children identified informal PA spaces as their play areas as a perceived environmental facilitator for their PA in meso-environments. Furthermore, most refugee parents expressed their perceived concerns about neighbourhood safety.
Abovementioned, an active environment for refugee children’s PA may include these features as (1) lower step depth(from living units) to external PA spaces; (2) lower step depth to internal PA spaces, (3) has higher average integration and (4) has more active PA spaces, these accommodations also got higher scores in staff environment rating surveys.
These findings worked as input material for a narrative comparison of existing buildings, building design (micro) and location choices (meso) for refugee accommodations. Thus, academic results would increase the likelihood of providing a better decision during the preliminary preparation process, reducing the potential costs for further construction.
The dissertation provides insights into the relationship between refugee accommodations’ PA spatial characteristics, perceived environmental barriers and facilitators and active built environment for refugee children’s PA. However, more effective samples should be investigated in the future. The author drew up evidence-based design strategies on refugee accommodations in micro and meso-environments concerning their active playing. Supplementary, the study has contributed to developing a summarised comparison, to which related-participators can compare different buildings for refugee accommodation purposes or re-functionalised existing buildings to further accommodation utility in micro-environments. Last but not least, it will help find a better location choice solution, a better neighbourhood optimisation related to refugee children’s active PA in meso-environments.
Keywords: micro-environment; meso-environment; physical activity; active built environment; refugee children; space syntax
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
1.1 Refugee children and their built environments in Germany
1.2 Definitions and Explanation
1.3 Existing micro-, and meso-environments for refugee children’s PA
1.4 Research questions and aims
1.5 Chapter overview
CHAPTER 2. BUILT ENVIRONMENT ATTRIBUTES ASSOCIATED WITH REFUGEE CHILDREN’S PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: A NARRATIVE REVIEW AND GAPS IN THREE THEMES (Published)
2.3 Review results
2.4 Research themes raised from research findings
2.5 Bridging the gap between spatial characteristics, perceived environmental barriers/facilitators and active built environments for refugee children’s PA
2.6 Chapter conclusion
CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY
3.2 Spatial characteristics of/around refugee accommodations and refugee children’s PA
3.3 Perceived environmental barriers and facilitators of refugee children’s PA
3.4 Active built environments for refugee children’s PA
3.5 Data extraction: combined quantitative and qualitative data
3.6 Ethical considerations in research design
CHAPTER 4 SPATIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF REFUGEE ACCOMMODATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH REFUGEE CHILDREN’S PA IN MICRO-ENVIRONMENTS
4.2 Case study results in micro-environments
4.3 Comparative case studies
4.4 Summary of results
4.5 Chapter conclusion
CHAPTER 5 SPATIAL CHARACTERISTICS AROUND REFUGEE ACCOMMODATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH REFUGEE CHILDREN’S PA IN MESO-ENVIRONMENTS
5.2 Potential PA space for refugee children in meso-environments: formal vs informal
5.3 Case study results in meso-environments
5.4 Comparative case studies
5.5 Summary of results
5.6 Chapter conclusion
CHAPTER 6. PERCEIVED ENVIRONMENTAL BARRIERS AND FACILITATORS OF REFUGEE CHILDREN’S PA IN/AROUND REFUGEE ACCOMMODATIONS
6.2 Results of questionnaires and workshops
6.3 Results of photovoice
6.4 Summary of results
6.5 Chapter conclusion
CHAPTER 7. ACTIVE BUILT ENVIRONMENTS FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN’S PA
7.2 Hypothesis between spatial characteristics and children’s PA
7.3 Results of staff survey in PA environments ratings
7.4 Results of parents survey and children’s workshop in PA environments ratings
7.5 Chapter conclusion
CHAPTER 8. BRINGING THEMES TOGETHER: SPATIAL CHARACTERISTICS, PERCEIVED ENVIRONMENTAL BARRIERS/FACILITATORS AND ACTIVE BUILT ENVIRONMENTS FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN’S PA
8.2 Linking spatial characteristics, perceived environmental barriers/ facilitators and active built environments for refugee children’s PA
8.3 Analysis of results across all case studies
8.4 Significant findings
CHAPTER 9. DISCUSSION
9.1 Spatial characteristics associated with refugee children’s PA space
9.2 Perceived environmental barriers and facilitators related to refugee children’s PA
9.3 Measurement issues for physical activity and built environment
9.4 Theoretical background and active built environments for refugee children’s PA
9.5 limitations of the research
CHAPTER 10. CONCLUSION
10.1 Summary of findings
10.2 Providing active environments for refugee children’s PA by design
10.3 Future studies and research agenda
Research & Analysis Project