Personal profile


Catharine Ward Thompson is Professor of Landscape Architecture and Co-Director of OPENspace Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh.  Her work focuses on inclusive access to outdoor environments and links between landscape and health. It includes work with children, young people and older people; it covers environment-behaviour interactions, historic landscapes and contemporary needs, and salutogenic environments. She was a member of the Scottish Government’s Good Places Better Health Evaluation Group.

Catharine directed the I’DGO (Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors) research consortium focused on the benefits and barriers to getting outdoors for older people and their quality of life This was followed by a project looking at Mobility, Mood and Place for older people with an emphasis on positive experiences and restorative outdoor environments. Current research with older people is exploring the person ageing in place as part of the University's Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC).

Catharine's research on the relationship between the quality, quantity and accessibility of green space and people’s health and wellbeing showed relationships between objective (cortisol) measures of health and objective mapping of green space levels in the residential environment, as part of the GreenHealth project for Scottish Government. Recent projects funded by NIHR and ESRC, in collaboration with the Forestry Commission  Scotland (now Scottish Forestry), are exploring whether an urban woodland intervention programme improves psychological wellbeing and early childhood development in deprived communities. She is currently an investigator on GroundsWell: a major, UKPRP funded collaboration to prevent non-communicable disease through the health-supporting benefits of access to urban green and blue space.

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Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), PhD by Research Publications: The experience of landscape – understanding responses to landscape design and exploring demands for the future, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jan 2010

Diploma in Landscape Architecture, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jan 1974

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Botany and Geography, University of Southampton

Award Date: 1 Jan 1972

External positions

Honorary Professor, European Centre for Environment and Human Health, Medical School, University of Exeter

29 Feb 201628 Feb 2019


  • NA Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Environmental Design
  • Environment & Health
  • Landscape History
  • Inclusive Design
  • Landscape aesthetics
  • Environment-behaviour interactions
  • Salutogenic environments
  • Urban park design
  • Natural environments and health


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