Objective Residential balcony, as an important healing space in family life, is gradually becoming a new topic of research in the field of habitat environment. Residential balcony plays an important role in improving environmental quality, promoting physical and mental health, and achieving physical and mental recovery. Clarifying the progress and development trend of the research on balcony environment and forming a systematic understanding of the healing benefits of balcony environment are of great theoretical and practical significance to enhance the quality of living environment, promote health and well-being, and accelerate physical and mental recovery.
Methods From the perspective of the research on healing benefits of balcony environment, this research screens a total of 211 English literature and 35 Chinese literature from the Web of Science core collection database and the China Knowledge Network (CNKI) database as data sources for research analysis. The research is based on a review of relevant research hotspots, contents and methods at home and abroad, and a review of the current status, trends, limitations and shortcomings of current research.
Results The researches on healing benefits of balcony environment can be divided into three areas. From the “environment − perception” perspective, the research explores the healing effects of balcony environment perception in promoting positive emotions, enhancing cognitive abilities, restoring attention, and relieving stress. From the “environment − activity” perspective, the research explores the physical and mental healing effects of gardening and the physical and social activities sustained by balcony in strengthening immunity, reducing psychological burden, maintaining stable social relationships, and building social capital. From the “environment − ecology” perspective, the research explores the healing effects of the combination of the physical environment and greening of balcony, finding that the physical environment of balcony can help strengthen natural ventilation and thermal comfort, while balcony greening can help adsorb harmful substances and maintain carbon and oxygen balance, thus improving the quality of living environment, and promoting physiological indicators of recovery and other functional health aspects. The research on healing benefits of balcony environment has realized the transition from unitary physical environment to perceptual experience and then to multiple integration and unification of physical participation, mainly seeking the in-depth analysis of the relationship between environment and physical and mental health. In recent years, the focus of research has also shifted from the health promotion role of physical environment to the physical and mental healing benefits of balcony environment. Accordingly, research perspective has also undergone a shift from subjective perception to humanistic perspective of physical and mental engagement. The promotion and development of emerging technologies are driving a transformation in research methods toward technical precision, which is expected to provide more precise methods and possibilities for evidence-based research on the healing benefits of balcony environment. Based on the analysis of current research status and practical needs, future research on healing benefits of balcony environment should focus on the following aspects: 1) Pay attention to the healing benefits and causality of the interaction between people and balcony environment. Combining with new human factor technology, high-quality physiological and psychological data can be obtained to identify and describe the behavioral reactions and physical and mental conditions of different people interacting with the balcony environment, and objectively demonstrate the causal relationship of balcony healing benefits. 2) Pay attention to the healing elements and influencing mechanism of balcony environment. The main contents include defining the influencing factors, weights and action mechanisms that affect the healing benefits, obtaining the key influencing factors, and realizing the fine measurement of the influence weights of spatial factors. 3) Pay attention to the configuration and comprehensive utilization of balcony space. It mainly includes understanding residents’ utilization status, utilization frequency and space demand of balcony. The space allocation required by ideal healing balcony environment should be further discussed in combination with the conclusion of empirical research, so as to improve the living quality, boost the diversified and comprehensive utilization of balcony and promote the health and well-being of residents.
Conclusion As a potential health resource in high-density urban living environment, residential balcony is an important part of evaluating urban living quality and realizing healthy life. However, the main problem faced by the current research on the healing benefits of balcony environment is the lack of research combing and discrimination, and the failure to form a systematic and valuable research conclusion. At present, it is difficult to effectively guide balcony design in practice and give full play to the healing value of balcony. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify the current progress and development trend of balcony healing research, analyze the existing problems and shortcomings in the current research, and determine future research direction. The theoretical significance of this research is to promote the deepening and refinement of the research on the healing benefits of residential balcony environment, and to expand and enrich the theoretical framework for the research on healing built environment. The practical significance lies in summarizing the existing research conclusions, promoting the practical transformation of theoretical achievements, and providing guidance for the optimization and design of balcony space.