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Following up former contributions of the chair of Landscape Architecture/TUDelft to the Oerol Festival we are this year developing our fifth project in the framework of Sense of Place – IOPM.

The 2017 project has just been named; PIN(K) A PLACE – Disclosing Landscape.

This year expedition project focus on Place and Perception and is located in a forest nearby Duinmeertje Hee.

Background and methods used during the design process.

Walking a straight line – immersive method

The first step of the recognition and mapping phase made on site was the introduction of an exercise when the students were asked to walk into the forest for the first time, not in groups but alone and remote from each other by about 30 meters, not using any of the existing paths but starting from the edges of the forest and walking into the forest in a straight line minding and making notes of the deviations – moments when, where and why they were inclined to stop or leave the referential straight line to research the particularities of the forest, coming back to the line after the recognition of a certain particularity continuing their journey along the line till the next moment of deviation happened.

By introducing this linear movement a qualitative recognition of the site was established; obstacles were encountered during the walk; the perception and ‘view’ of the students were drawn by events, objects, atmospheres along the way introducing serendipity into this mapping phase. The experiential dynamic of walking and the sensorial relationship with the site made the students much more aware of the particularities they encounter and the deviations they were inclined to make.

By noting this particularities and encounters a first map of capacities of the site were made. This exercise that was not meant, in principle, to collect hints for the project but be a recognition of what was there, has generated an unexpected affluence of material, perceptions, experiences and is still informing the project in its end phase. Not only the experiences and deviations on site are been inspiring but also the very exercise of walking as a research method, what confirms the importance of been conscious about the ‘steps’ taken during all phases of the design process.

The second step directly related to the walking a straight line exercise was to compare and discuss the experiences in the group trying to find out the way to match them. This phase revealed on one hand the tendency to describe tactile aspects of the site and on the other hand talk about feelings, remembrances, stories related to certain spots along the way, ending in a map overlapping different ephemeral encounters.

The most important conclusion of this brainstorm section, along with that of mapping the individual opinions or making lists of emotions, is the realization that each of us has a personal perception of the landscape. In this sense you could make as many maps and lists as visitors are of the same forest.

What remote back to understandings about place and perception the students had studied in the introductory phase like the Richard Muir’s book Approaches to Landscape where he also refers to another important researcher on subjects related to Place and Perception, Yi Fu Tuan; “In experiencing places, we simultaneously encounter two closely related but different landscapes. The real landscape, the objective one made by soil, vegetation and water. The other is the perceived landscape, consisting of senses and remembrances, a selective impression of what the real landscape is like… When the one departs, the landscape enduring in the memory to be recalled and recounted will be the one founded on perceptions, not the real landscape”(Muir, 1999).

Curation or the many authors approach / participatory research

Following up the above mention conclusion the design process stepped into two main directions; one searching for ways to give the visitor pre-defined experiences by introducing a narrative, or tools to enlarge existing features of the site. This projects refer to installations with a certain degree of interaction aiming to focus the perception of the visitor into specific aspects of the forest playing with the senses or giving to the visitors a different role than the one they are used to. A few examples of this approach are; marking the relief and high differences of the old dunes, or by amplifying sounds and views present in the forest, or using natural material available, or reporting the visitors to former ages of the same landscape.

The other direction searches for a more interactive approach where the user/visitor of the forest is a co-author and an integrative part of a research like project. This approach relates to more recently ‘bottom-up’ investigative strategies emerging as an attempt to offer a different form of analyses than the factual or theoretical one. In this sense the project has not one author but is a result of an overlapping of uncountable authors. In a curatorial way of doing research, the intention is to build a database of perceptions together with the visitors of the project stepping aside of the role as dominant creators and establishing a framework wherein the interaction can happen.

The above mentioned is a result of a process which took about three weeks of intensive search for a concept. In this design phase the students were shift several time under the different ideas. In principle the ideas remained, what changed were the students working on them, depending on their own interest. In such way some ideas were developed further, others were revaluated creating a groups cohesion where everyone can now identified with the end result. This way of work helps to reach high level concepts generating a massive amount of ideas, all of them somehow being part of the final project.

Final Project

PIN(K) A PLACE – Disclosing Landscape

Pin(k) a place is the final project, still in development, which will be built during the Oerol Festival, from 09 till 19 June.

Pin(k) a Place is a project that operates on the surface of the forest, overlapping the existing landscape without deleting or modifying it substantially. It is a project which has as premise to be reversible, impermanent but at the same time tries to provoke reactions, tries to choreograph a relationship in between the visitor and the landscape they are in. Its intention is the creation of a meaningful place by introducing icons to the landscape and engaging the user physically and emotionally. Its intention is also to be an interactive research of people’s perception of this landscape, to understand and document what is in there people feel the most attach to. Therefore the project opens a conversation with the visitor, stimulate their participation, mapping it and build a collectively authored archive of perceptions.

Literature and studies used to develop the mentioned exercises and phases are, for example: studies and experiments e.g. made by Ellen Braae trying to capture site-specific qualities of a site (Braae et al., 2013), Cosgrove considerations about maps and mapping in Mapping (Cosgrove, 1999), Land Art projects in which the act of walk becomes an artwork in Walkscapes (Careri, 2002), Richard Muir’s definition of a Place in Approaches to Landscape (Muir, 1999), Yi-Fu Tuan seminal books – Place and Space (19077) and Topophilia(1972), Ed Wall essay on an method how to create an interactive cartography (Wall, 2017).

Students Oerol 2017 – Bella Bluemink, Eva Ventura, Eva Willemsen, Federica Sanchez, Ge Hong, Ilya Tasioula, Jan Gerk de Boer, Joey Liang, Lukas Kropp, Maël Vanhelsuwé, Maximilian Einert, Michelle Siemerink, Qingyun Lin, Timothy Radhitya Djagiri, Yao Lu. Coordination and tutoring Oerol 2017 – Denise Piccinini and Rene van der Velde

 More information about our project?

Visit our website (still under construction) https://iopm2017.wordpress.com/

 

 

Many people know the overwhelming feeling of peace and admiration one experiences overlooking a canyon, snow capped mountains, sunset at the beach or tumbling waterfalls. Our relationship with nature is of all times and ranges from worshiping the gods of nature to overcoming or ‘taming’ it. The relation with nature has been the subject of many great thinkers such as the 18th century philosopher Rousseau who, with his admiration for nature, has had a big influence on our current way of thinking. Our desire for unspoiled nature is today perhaps greater than ever. Every year, millions of people have their holidays (to some indeed ‘holy’ days) in the mountains, which seem to have an enormous appeal to us.

Moraine lake, Banff National Park, Canada

Special ecosystems and lots of variety

The variety of (plant)species in the mountains is very big as a lot of different conditions can be found on a relatively small surface. In a North West European lowland forest one can find particularly forest plants due to different conditions. In the mountains these different conditions and gradients are more extreme, think of: altitude, temperature regimes, PH, moisture, soil types, snow coverage, nutrients sunlight etc. The result is a great balanced ecosystem with many different habitats and species.

It is not rare, to experience the grandeur of the mountain scenery during a walk when suddenly a little further, you hear a splashing waterfall and find yourself in front of a vertical cliff filled with rare flowers of Saxifraga, Sempervivum and Ferns; the most beautiful garden on a few square meter! Can we have some of this experience in our Gardens? Let’s have a look at the how we have dealt with this till now?

History of the Rock Garden

Although rocks were already used in Chinese gardens it was in the English landscape gardens that the grotto (rock cave) was introduced. As a reminder to pristine nature, which in those days was right in the spotlight. It was the time of exploring the remote corners of the world, exploring exotic places, but also, for example the Alps. There were also special plants and animals that were brought back to zoos and botanical gardens. Since the late 18th century, rock gardens were laid out and were on display (first one 1772 in London). This was mainly to create an artificial habitat for the plant collections brought back from the mountains, not to experience the feeling of the mountains! Later, local large angular limestone blocks were used to build these gardens and slowly the ‘English Rock Garden’ came into existence as can still be found in Kew Gardens. Around 1900 rock gardens were very popular, especially because Reginald Farrer brought back new species from the Himalayas and China. During an international plant exhibition of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in 1912 Farrer showed a natural rock garden he built himself. This was actually the start of the continuing interest in rock gardens today by enthusiasts worldwide.

English Rock Garden in Kew Gardens built in 1882

Alpine flowers in our gardens

Over the years, a variety of possibilities were created to grow Alpine plants in our gardens. This varies from the English rock garden, alpine houses, Czech crevice gardens, tufa gardens, using troughs, rubble gardens (rubble instead of rock), artificial and natural stone walls, raised beds and even refrigerated benches. Often this is mainly for genera, which are more difficult to grow as they often need moisture but good drainage, cool root systems but sun! Interestingly many of our perennials, shrubs and bulbs used in our gardens right now, grow naturally in mountain regions of the world think of plants like Bergenia, Buxus and Tulips

Garden secrets

So there are ways to make artificial habitats for a collection of alpine plants. The question now is, can we create the experience of the mountains in our garden. The total effect of plants, rocks and water together! In fact this is not an easy question to answer as I think it touches the core of what garden design & landscape architecture is about. In this respect, a Japanese garden is very interesting! Rocks as islands in the sea (gravel), smoothly pruned Azaleas as rolling hills in the Japanese landscape and so on. The Japanese garden is actually a translation of the local landscape! Which reminds me of William Blake’s poem ‘To see the world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wildflower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour!

Also very telling is the quest of the renowned landscape architect John Ormsbee Simonds. With fellow students he had spent years looking for the essentials of the world’s famous gardens in Japan, China, Tuscany, France, England and so on. What are the secrets of all these gardens? Was it just the lay out, the geometry, order, unity and intricacy or is there more? Somehow they felt the essence of what it was seemed to escape them. Many years later when he sat in a woodland, as he describes it; sunlit trees, motionless air fragrant with Hay fern, purple foliage, squirrels searching for acorns….’an old familiar tingling went through me, a sense of supreme well being, and an indefinable something more’…. It gave him the same feeling as he had felt in some of the gardens, years earlier. It was not the design of the gardens but rather what one experiences there what was the secret! A special garden is not merely ‘an exercise in geometric acrobatics’ but, like in the mountains, an experience or feeling that the garden evokes.

Rotstuin Rock Garden Ber Slangen Maastricht

Experience the mountains in your garden

It is precisely this experience of the mountains that Ber Slangen in Maastricht tried to take home in 1950 when he cycled to the Alps http://www.berslangen.nl. Without a preconceived design he tried to create some of experiences of the Alps in his garden. A small magical landscape was created with rocks, plants and water. Several species of evergreen give depth of field and make it a special and harmonious place. Streamlets and waterfalls come from little gorges and water tumbles over rocks finding it’s way to the central pond in the garden. Vertical cliffs are covered with ferns, Epimediums, Solomon’s Seal and other interesting plants like Ramonda, and Haberlea. Large groups of one genus are used which gives some unity but also provides a background for a few solitary gems! The overall effect of the garden has always been a priority to the plants used. It didn’t matter if this effect was achieved by planting local easy growing ferns or endemic choice species, as long as the overall effect, which is the feeling of the mountains, was there. Vertical green cliffs are great to help to reach this effect. French botanist Patrick Blanc’s green walls are fine examples of this and have added new possibilities in the urban landscape to experience nature in our urban areas or at least try to plan for it. As Simonds describes it: ‘A garden, perhaps the highest most difficult art form, is best conceived as a series of planned relationships of human to human, human to structure, and human to some facet or facets of nature, such as the lichen-encrusted tree bole of an ancient ginkgo tree, a sprightly sun flecked magnolia clump, a trickle of water, a foaming cascade, a pool, a collection of rare tree peonies, or a New Hamshire upland meadow view’.

One of Patrick Blanc’s Green Walls

Although I love travelling and experience the beauty of pristine nature I still would like to end with Ber Slangen’s favourite quote by Italian writer Alberto Moravia. “And those nature lovers should not only decide to travel to Italy or remote areas to refresh their minds with it’s natural beauty. Those who have an eye for beauty can be endlessly happy in their back yard gardens” (Alberto Moravia, De Tijd, May 25, 1984)

References

Simonds O. John, Landscape Architecture: The shaping of man’s natural environment, New York, Toronto, London, 1961

Facebook page Rock Garden Ber Slangen

http://www.flickr.com/photos/91778959@N00

http://www.berslangen.nl

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHVeGQHFyBs)

iopm_logoThe Institute of Place Making finds out and makes visible what the notion of place is about and how it evolves. It will do this by mapping, categorising and analysing feedback of visitors and inhabitants on their experience with  Terschellings’ landscape and places. The results will be returned through a website with a map of the island indicating the values visitors and inhabitants endow to a variety of places they know on the island.  An interactive classification and exhibition of the results will take place at the Institutes’  laboratory during Oerol at ‘Duinmeertje Hee’.

Collecting

People will be all around the island during the festival. Therefore the staff of the Institute will go out of the office to meet them in the field, and hand out test tubes with the request to put the ‘essence of Terschelling’ in the test tube and return it to the Institute. The test tube is used as a symbol  and medium to activate thinking about place. A small label is attached to the test tube, with instructions and space to fill in personal information: age, gender and place of residence, a space to fill in data about the place: a small map to mark the location, what the weather was like and the time of the day, and a small space to note the experience in a few keywords, or draw something. This information will help us to categorize the places. In addition to this, conversations with visitors on their place will be collected as audio and video fragments. The visitors may keep the test tube a couple of days with them to find and experience their place before returning it to us.

Processing

One can visit the Institute at ‘Duinmeertje Hee’ to have the results, test tube and completed label, processed. Here, the visitor is brought into a pseudo-scientific world of staff in white lab coats who receive the visitor and extract the data with them in a couple of steps: making a photograph of the test tube, measuring and weighing the contents, pinning the place as accurate as possible on a large wall map, asking some additional questions to categorize the data like wet or dry, hot or cold, dead or alive, and then bringing the data form the label into a digital interactive map on the website.

The visitor is then asked to go into the forest and put their test tube in one of the white cabinets in the ‘open air laboratory’. These cabinets have poetic names like  ‘the cabinet of overwhelming nature’, ‘the cabinet of immeasurable colours’ or ‘the cabinet of eternal elements’. In every cabinet, a more detailed classification is made within the theme of it. After some days a collection of experiences builds up in the cabinets in the form of a cabinet of curiosities that other visitors can watch and study. The cabinets will be installed in the forest in accordance with the shape of the old dunes’ topography the raster of trees and the patterns on the forest floor, forming a group of ‘objets trouvés’.

Analysing

The results of the project will be heavily coloured by the fact that there is a festival taking place, but the principle could be repeated on a different moment or at a different location. It certainly will give us an overview of places and landscapes that people on Terschelling appreciate most. For a more elaborate investigation the fairly subjective data of the visitors will be supplemented with more objective characteristics derived from GIS-data like landscape type, field of view, percentages green, open sky, water, weather, etc. A comparison could then be made between perception of a person and what the landscape actually looks like. Each day of Oerol the results will be analysed and some striking outcome will be the motive for a daily manifestation in the afternoon, elaborating on that specific result.

general strategyBut the investigation could also be placed in a broader context .The next step could comprise of making the results operable for landscape architectonic design. The landscape in the Netherlands is changing rapidly, and will continue to change even more in the future. The ‘old’ is replaced for the ‘new’, usually to the chagrin of those familiar with these places. How can we use their views to guide transition in a more sensible way? The Institute of Place Making also wants to find an answer to that question.

Curious what the project looks like? Visit us at Oerol, June 14 – 23, 2013, at ‘Duinmeertje Hee’

http://www. iopm.nl/ (under construction)

http://www.oerol.nl/

Michiel Pouderoijen and Denise Piccinini, assignment coordinators and tutors of Landscape Architecture ON site, being part of Oerol 2013 (Elective MSc2 – Chair Landscape Architecture at the TU Delft) Students: Kaegh Allen, Ilse van den Berg, Erik van der Gaag, Charlotte Grace, Bart de Hartog, Rogier Hendriks, Doris van Hooijdonk, Marleen Klompenhouwer, Emiel Meijerink, Eva Nicolai, Pépé Niemeijer, Sarah Roberts

Mongolian Buffalo

The magnificent steppes always seem to be framed by mountain chains; wherever you move you experience a 360°of both space and enclosure. The gently flowing rivers cross carpet-like grass lands, on which cows, horses, sheep’s and buffalo’s are running freely and peacefully. Once in a while a group of two or three white round tents called gers shine in the sunlight. As you move through the steppe you are free to choose any path you desire, there are almost no preconceived roads. This is Mongolia. It’s landscape is one of the most breath-taking and well-preserved landscapes on earth. While traveling through Mongolia you are sure that what you see today is also what Chinggis Khaan has seen too. Well, almost.

As we stop on the way, a Mongolian shepherd invites us over for suutei tsai (milk with tea and salt) and something else. What this ‘else’ is, is not really clear, our Mongolian is far beneath the required level, but as we enter the ger we discover that they just have slaughtered and cleaned a goat. The guts and other intestines lie on one side, the best meat on the other. And on the side of this bloody scene we spot a memory stick. A what? Yes, and close to the home altar there is the I Mac. When taking a tour outside the ger we bypass children blue torching the head of the goat and see a boy jumping on his horse, while sending an sms. Then we stop and stare at the solar panel attached on the south side of the ger. It looks like the Mongols have skipped the exploitative and wired phase of industrialization and are now plugging into green energy and wireless communication instead. How come? Could it be really true?

Mongolia is locked between Russia and China with no access to the sea, being therefore somehow dependent on the policies of the two giants. With a density of population that used to be 1000x (0.41 p/ km2 in 1918) and now 300x less than nowadays in the Netherlands (404.5 p/km2), it was simply not profitable to make roads and wires. This lack of infrastructure was not very inviting for the big industry. And Russia, being the boss there between 1924 and 1989, didn’t want to make it interesting either. So the Mongolian existence kept on being based on its life stock, which provides milk, skins for clothes, transport and meat. As the cuddle needs fresh grass, the Mongols move their gers along with it, not bothering a lot about land ownership. (Every group of gers claims a circle of occupancy proportional to the size of the life stock, with the maximum size of the distance that a shepherd can do on a horse in half a day. If you are new in an area you search for your own circle where you don’t disturb the others). It has been like this during Chinggis Khaan and it still is. But the times are changing. Since the ‘90’s Mongolia is ‘on the market’ with its untouched natural resources like copper, coal, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, and gold. At this moment around 3000 mining licenses have been issues by mostly Chinese, Russian and Canadian companies. How many of them will provide solar panels in return?

Traditional ger + solar panelOld print of Mongolian landcape

Landscape can be defined as “an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors” [1].This definition clearly emphasises the sensory relationship between the observer and the landscape. The major question here is: how do we know and understand the landscape through perception?

Although ‘perceived by people’ refers to a holistic experience with all senses, very often it is reduced to the visual aspects. This has to do with the fact that 80% of our impression of our surroundings comes from sight [2]. Also the ‘range’ of our senses plays an important role. Granö (1929) already made the distinction between the ‘Nahsicht’ and ‘Fernsicht’. The Nahsicht or proximity is the environment we can experience with all our senses, the Fernsicht he called also landscape and is the part of our environment we mainly experience by vision [3]. Hence the identifying character of landscapes in the rural and urban realm is, to a large extent, built upon visual perception. Since visual perception is a key factor in behaviour and preference, it is crucial for landscape planning, design, and management, as well as for monitoring and protection of landscapes. But how can we comprehend the ‘face of the landscape’ and its perception? And how can we make this applicable to landscape planning, design and management?

Can you see the face? [4]

We believe that the long tradition and current advances in the field of visual landscape research offer interesting clues for theory, methodology and applications in this direction [5]. Visual landscape research is an interdisciplinary approach that combines (a) landscape planning, design and management concepts, (b) landscape perception approaches, and (c) Geographic Information Science (GISc)-based methods and techniques. While integrating psychological knowledge of landscape perception, the technical considerations of geomatics, and methodology of landscape architecture and urban planning, it provides a solid basis for visual landscape assessment in cities, parks and rural areas. It offers great potential for the acquisition of design knowledge by exploring landscape architectonic compositions from the ‘inside out’, as well as possibilities to enrich landscape character assessment with visual landscape indicators. Since they are crucial elements in landscape perception and preference it is important for landscape planning, policy and monitoring to get a grip on visual landscape attributes like spaciousness and related indicators (e.g. degree of openness, visual dominance, building density and the nature of spatial boundaries).

The field of visual landscape research is expanding every day. Influenced by national and international initiatives it is likely to continue developing in three ways. In the first place by scientific development of theory, methods and techniques. Secondly by implementation in education, and thirdly by knowledge transfer and applications in academia and society (valorisation). In order to facilitate this development a dialogue is needed between the scientific community and society through high quality publications and platforms for knowledge dissemination and discussion. We like to contribute to this dialogue via our platform Exploring the Visual Landscape (EVL), an initiative of Delft University of Technology, Landscape Architecture andWageningenUniversity, Centre for Geo-Information.

Colloquium: Exploring the Visual Landscape, March 22nd 2012, TU Delft. More information: visuallandscape-bk@tudelft.nl

Book: Exploring the Visual Landscape. Advances in Physiognomic Landscape Research in the Netherlands. S. Nijhuis, R. Van Lammeren and F.D. Van Der Hoeven (eds.). Research in Urbanism Series, Volume 2. September 2011, Amsterdam, IOS press

Download from Repository TU Delft: [http://repository.tudelft.nl/view/ir/uuid%3Afe6698ae-045c-436b-945b-c61c4b0437e4/]

Online purchase: [http://www.iospress.nl/html/9781607508328.php]

Notes:

[1]  Council of Europe(2000) European Landscape Convention.Florence. European Treaty Series 176. p3

[2]  Seiderman, A., Marcus, S. (1989/1991) 20/20 is not enough. The new world of vision.New York. Alfred a. Knopf. p6

[3]  Granö, J.G. (1929) Reine Geographie. Eine methodologische Studie beleuchtet mit Beispielen aus Finnland und Estland. Acta Geographica 2 (2); 202. Recently republished in: O Granö and A. Paasi (eds.) (1997) Pure Geography.Baltimore andLondon, TheJohnHopkinsUniversity Press.

[4] Source: http://www.newopticalillusions.com/3d-optical-illusion/face-optical-illusion-2/ [accessed: February 4th, 2012]

[5]  See for an overview: Nijhuis, S., Van Lammeren, R., Antrop, M . (2011) Exploring Visual Landscapes. Introduction. In: S. Nijhuis, R. van Lammeren, F.D. van der Hoeven (eds.) Exploring the Visual Landscape. Advances in Physiognomic Landscape Research.Amsterdam, IOS Press. pp15-40

“People feel better outside than inside”. “People feel better in the park/woods/nature than in the city”. These are some of the conclusions from a project with the telling title ‘Mappiness’ Good news for landscape and Landscape Architecture on first sight. But are these only one-liners or firmly based scientific statements? Well, that depends on the quality of the empirical evidence of course. Most experience sample methods (ESM) have a hard time getting a representative group (in the end almost only colleagues) that has to struggle trough tedious interview forms (“it will take only twenty minutes”) to step-by-step end up with modest results. How about a sample group of 47.331 people (and growing by the day) who willingly support their data three times a day to the researchers that by now collected over three million forms in a few months? I stumbled upon these remarkable Experience research feats in a TedxBrighton 2011. In this “Twenty minutes lecture” George MacKerron explains why and how he and Susana Mourato (both from the Department of Geography & Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science) created ‘mappiness’. They want to better understand how people’s feelings are affected by features of their current environment. Things like air pollution, noise, and green spaces influence your well being is their hypothesis.
This is how it works. They developed an app that can be downloaded for free. It must be one of the most irritating apps around on the web because it rings you (with your approval, you can influence the settings) three times a day to ask you three simple questions. The screen looks like this:

How do you feel? You can shift a slide on the Happy-scale from ‘Not at all Happy’ to ‘Extremely Happy’ A glider on the Relaxed-scale from Not at All to Extremely and finally you can shift on a scale How Awake you are from Not at All to Extremely awake. (In my case being awake or not is rather digital, but this might be different in the UK where the research is focused). Then, if you are able to, you may take a photograph that is transferred with your answers to the Mappiness server. The tricky thing is of course that, with every response you provide, with every shot you make, your bearings are also exactly known thanks to the GPS in your phone. Furthermore Mappiness uses the microphone of your mobile to measure the ambient noise level. For you personally it gives feedback on the development of your personal happiness including when, where and with whom you’re happiest. For the research the data together show a wealth of information and a lot of conclusions that can be drawn from it are far from exhausted. The GPS data show that the whole of the UK is almost completely covered by contributors.

When these guys put it through a big regression model they can gauge the happiness as the function of habitat type, activity, companionship, weather conditions (there is of course a link between meteorological data and the GPS data), daylight conditions, location type (in, out, home, work, etc), ambient noise level, time of the day, response speed, and individual ‘fixed-effects’ (that come out of your personal Mappiness-history).
Factors can be plotted out against each other. Not only the researchers conclude that outside people feel happier than inside, they can even, thanks to the GPS, focus it to the landscape type. Marine shores and margins score best with between 2,5 and 6,5 more points then the average urban happiness. Waste land between minus 1 and + 2 points is tailing the list of the outdoors. Amazing for me is the score of broad leaved and mixed forests (between 1,5 and 2,5 above average urban) is considerable lower then coniferous forests (not my taste, but ranging between 2,5 and 6,4 above the average). One can immediately see that these observations are highly culture specific, and of course people wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about the outdoors if there wasn’t a city or a house to come home to and yes, there will be a bias because the group that owns a smart phone might not be completely representative and yes this will open up opportunities for governments to measure happiness and more important to figure it into its policy making and yes again there is the danger of the domination of the ‘gesundenes Volksempfinden’ But before we start summing up all the dangers and disadvantages chapeau for these two geographers. I think we should see it as a breakthrough in Experience research that can develop in a powerful tool for planners and landscape architects.The possibilities are almost limitless if this instrument will mature out of its growing pains. Think of an application and enter this blog! Let’s introduce it in the Netherlands (or make it global) I would say.

Mappiness website

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