Hong and teammates studied adding nature sounds to outdoor spaces. Study participants wore a mixed-reality head-mounted display and saw a hologram of either a sparrow or a fountain or a loudspeaker while hearing birdsong or a stream. The researchers determined via data collected outdoors, near an expressway, that “both natural sounds significantly reduced the PLN [perceived loudness of the traffic noise] and enhanced the OSQ [overall sound quality]. . . . Analysis on the preferred signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), i.e.
Hvass and teammates investigated how lighting urban spaces influence perceptions of experiences there. They determined via a field study in public transportation waiting areas and a laboratory experiment (where one light zone simulated the same sort of waiting area and the other the surrounding urban space) that “participants perceived the atmosphere in the simulated waiting area as relaxed and private when luminance intensity was low.
Van Nes applied space syntax principles at the city level. He found that “shop owners always search for an optimal location to reach as many customers as possible. If the accessibility to this optimal location is affected by changes in a city’s road and street structure, it will affect the location pattern of shops. . . . how an inner ring road is connected to and the type of the street network it is imposed upon dictates the resulting location pattern of shops. Shops locate and relocate themselves along the most spatially-integrated streets. . .
Pouso and team evaluated how nature exposure influenced mental health during COVID pandemic lockdowns. They report that “Using a survey distributed online, we tested the following hypotheses: 1) People will show greater symptoms of depression and anxiety under lockdown conditions that did not allow contact with outdoor nature spaces; 2) Where access to public outdoor nature spaces was strictly restricted, (2a) those with green/blue nature view or (2b) access to private outdoor spaces such as a garden or balcony will show fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, and a more positive mood.
Olszewska-Guizzo and colleagues studied links between nature experiences and the psychological state of people who lived in Singapore during its 7 week COVID-19 lockdown (known as a stay-at-home order or SHO). Data assessed were collected before the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately after the SHO ended. The research team determined, by showing participants videos of urban public spaces (Busy Downtown, Residential Green, and Lush Garden) filmed before the pandemic that “Post SHO, brain activity and responsiveness to landscapes changed. . .
Bisson studied experiences in urban environments. Research completed indicated that “three levels of understanding of urban environments can be identified: a first level shared by all, a second one shared by social groups, and a last one related to the individual. These three-levels of the inhabitants’ definition of urban ambiance anchors enable us to question participation in urban planning.”
What do we prefer to see when we look out the window at an urban area? Batool, Rutherford, and McGraw found that “participants tend to prefer the presence of people, well-maintained buildings and orderly presented colours. . . . Views containing a variety of information, with colourful patterns and differentiated facades, were preferred more than those with less information. . . . windows not affording a clear vision to the inside – that is, where further information could not be obtained about the environment behind an opening – led to reduced preference. . .
Radicchi lead a team probing the psychological implications of urban soundscapes. The group found that “At an international level it is recognised that urban noise has serious and negative public health impacts. . . . Urban designers and planners. . . . need an awareness of the immaterial cultural heritage of place – cultural events, festivals, sound marks and oral traditions, when dealing with the protection and renewal of the historical city. . . .
Loder’s book shares useful insights on greening cities. In her introduction, Loder describes her text: it focuses on “how creatively bringing nature into cities can provide multiple benefits that can help to mitigate many of the urban problems we face. . . . Using new research and case studies on perceptions of small-scale urban greening projects . . .
Marselle and colleagues link more street trees closer to homes to a decreased likelihood that residents will be depressed. The investigators report that they “analysed the association of street tree density and species richness with antidepressant prescribing for 9751 inhabitants of Leipzig, Germany. We examined spatial scale effects of street trees at different distances around participant’s homes, using . . . buffers of 100, 300, 500, and 1000 m. . . . we found a lower rate of antidepressant prescriptions for people living within 100 m of higher density of street trees. . . .