Art and green spaces in urban environments make people happier, social and more trustingSiobhan Treacy | March 07, 2019
A new study from the University of Waterloo’s Urban Realties Lab in Ontario, Canada found that green urban spaces and art increase people’s happiness, well-being and social connections. The researchers’ goal is to spread awareness about the impact art-filled and green spaces have on well-being to help jumpstart more urban enrichment projects.
When people are in a green, open, colorful space, they are happier, more likely to trust people and inspired to live more eco-conscious lives than people living in urban spaces, according to the study.
During the study, participants walked around Vancouver’s West End. Participants were prompted to complete a survey on a smartphone app while stopped at six checkpoints. These stops included one green laneway, one concrete laneway, a crosswalk painted with a rainbow, a crosswalk painted with zebra stripes, a wild community garden and a manicured landscape. All of these colorful and green spaces were inexpensive to build and maintain.
The survey results showed that the participants were much happier and more social when they were in a green or colorful space. Conversely, an unadorned space, like the concrete laneway, didn’t inspire participants to socialize with strangers or affect their happiness positively. When the participants were stopped at green or colorful spaces, they reported feeling happier, more social and more trusting of the people around them, even though they were strangers.
This research supports the trend of green spaces in urban environments that have been growing significantly over the past few years. In November 2017, Denver passed a green roof ordinance that requires buildings larger than 25,000 sq ft to have a certain percentage of its roof outfitted with either solar panels, green space or a garden. With the rise of unusual architecture for the sake of eco-friendly living, it is likely that green living isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Instead, it is likely that more green and colorful spaces will be popping up in urban environments every year.
The paper on the University of Waterloo’s study was published in Cities and Health.