New Research Suggests Immersive Urban Parks Work Best

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in your neighborhood park? For a true mental vacation, head for the park with the densest vegetation, writes Eric Jaffe.
August 5, 2012, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Following up on a recent piece on the restorative powers of parks, Jaffe revisits the topic with new research in hand that gets at the question of "precisely how many trees it takes to recover the cognitive strains of urban life."

According to an article appearing in an upcoming issue of the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, a group of Finnish researchers found that, "perceived restorativeness in urban forests was strongly affected by closure of view to the urban matrix through the forest vegetation. This means that perceived restorativeness was higher inside the forest with a closed (i.e. no) view to the urban matrix as compared to semi-closed and open views."

"The most intriguing conclusion to be drawn here is that the size of an urban park isn't nearly as important as the density of its vegetatio," writes Jaffe. "Even when a nature site borders an urban road or housing development, it can function as a restorative place so long as it offers easy access to a dense interior. In other words, the ultimate goal is not to see the city for the trees," he concludes.  

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Published on Friday, August 3, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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