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ResearchUrban and Regional Studies InstituteResearch projects

Green space, stress, and the pursuit of restoration in urban environments

Principal researcher

Prof. A.E. van den Berg

Type of research

Research program associated to endowed chair


Urban green space can make a significant contribution to people’s overall well-being and quality of life, as part of their everyday experiences. In particular, an expanding body of research has shown green space to have restorative effects, reducing stress and mental fatigue and enhancing people’s mood and helping to prevent depression. The relevance of these benefits is increasing due to growing urbanization, and its negative impact on mental health. However, as yet little is known about the physical characteristics of urban green space that promote restoration from stress, or how to plan, manage and design urban green spaces so as to maximize their restorative impact. These questions are addressed in ongoing research program attached to the endowed chair “Perception and Evaluation of Nature and Landscape”, funded by the Stichting Nationaal Groenfonds. The program comprises several projects, including a PhD research by Robert van Dongen entitled “Optimal design of green space’, in which people’s physiological responses to everyday small green elements like trees, bushes, vertical walls and pocket parks are examined. Another project focuses on the role of fractal forms as a key dimension underlying the fascinating and restorative qualities of nature. The research program is characterized by the use of innovative methods and visualization techiques, like Virtual Reality. The research program involves collaborations with national and international academic group, such as the faculty of psychology in Groningen, TU Eindhoven, Leiden University, Catholic University Leuven, and the University of Sheffield. Results are disseminated to a variety of stakeholders, including national and local governments, nature management and protection organizations, schools, hospitals and health insurance companies.

Butterfly garden
Butterfly garden
Street with trees
Street with trees
Last modified:07 March 2014 11.41 a.m.