Finding Tranquillity in the City
Close your eyes and think of a tranquil place. What does it look like? Lush green grass, trickling water and nothing but the soothing sound of birdsong? Chances are, your ideal calming space is similar to this in some way and includes plenty of natural elements. Research has shown time and time again that we humans have an innate need to be close to nature, finding that environments that are green and close to nature can lower stress levels, improve productivity and even help with pain tolerance.
However city dwellers may find it more difficult to come into contact with nature than most. Studies have found that people who live in a major city spend a shocking 90% of their time indoors. All is not lost, as several British universities have been collaborating and hope to help solve this issue. In an article written for The Conversation, Greg Watts, professor of environmental acoustics at the University of Bradford stated that he and other collaborators from the University of Leeds and the University of Sheffield had developed a Tranquillity Rating Prediction Tool which measures levels of noise and natural surroundings.
Researchers found that green spaces that are often hidden from view such as those found on side tend to have high levels of tranquillity due to the fact the surrounding buildings act as a barrier from busy roads. Pedestrian areas in cities and towns were also rather tranquil as there is a greater distance from traffic and lots of these square are adorned with trees, plants and grass. Along the same pattern, side-roads particularly with avenues of trees or heritage buildings were also found to score highly do their quietness and aesthetically pleasing views.
Create a Tranquil Space
Creating a relaxing space in a city environement is easier than it may seem. An important factor found by the Tranquillity Rating Prediction Tool was that man-made noise is at a minimum. Believe it or not, this can be achieved in a busy office! Plants absorb noises and also act as barrier that offer workers visual privacy, allowing them to relax and find calm. As a bonus, plenty of lush greenery will add the natural feel of the workplace.
Allocating a 'quiet area' in the office is also a good idea - these give staff the chance to chill out on their break or work on difficult projects independently. Be sure to incorporate an abundance of plants in this area, you could even use plant screening to block it off from the rest of the workplace in a non-intimating way.