Vibrant urban environment improves well-being

(ORDO NEWS) — It’s no secret that colorful surroundings and a landscape rich in vegetation improve mood, while overwhelming dull tones, on the contrary, depress. In a new article, scientists explored this phenomenon using virtual reality.

People have always sought to relax in nature, closer to green spaces, beautiful landscapes and bright colors. On the other hand, cities are increasingly trying to make them more colorful and visually attractive, because this improves the well-being and mood of residents.

Researchers from the University of Lille (France) have addressed this issue using a scientific approach and virtual reality.

Scientists were interested in how the emotional state of a person and his activity in a different environment change.

To do this, 36 volunteers – students of the University of Lille – with the help of a virtual reality helmet were “placed” in a landscape that replicates part of the university campus they are familiar with, namely, the neighborhood of the library building.

In one case, the subjects were surrounded by dull and gray tones, without green pleasures. In the other, among plants and other bright colors. Immersed in a virtual campus, people were asked to walk in place, while the picture in front of their eyes changed.

The researchers used a variety of devices to assess subjects’ walking pace, heart rate, and eye movements. All these changes in physiological processes and behavior were used to objectively assess the emotional state of the participants.

“Measuring pleasure and motivation under normal conditions is difficult,” said Professor Yvonne Delevoye-Turrell, who led the study.

“Human response is highly dependent on changes in the environment, say weather or traffic, as well as measurement errors. So we used virtual reality to show that it is fundamentally possible to quantify this kind of urban environment effect.”

It turned out that being in a bright landscape stimulates slow walking and makes the heart beat faster – scientists regarded this as signs of pleasure. They noted that colorful spots are inferior to vegetation in effect, while at the same time stimulating interest and inspiration, better retaining attention.

The results obtained in the computer simulation should be taken into account when planning reality, or rather, the urban landscape.

They once again confirm that the pleasing and involving appearance of buildings, their diversity and inclusions of plants have a positive effect on the well-being of people. Fortunately, multi-colored and at least slightly different motifs are now increasingly used even in prosaic standard buildings.


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