07 Mind

Director/Producer: Tom COZENS
Music: Tom COZENS
Script: Tom COZENS and Professor Chris WEBSTER

Executive Producers: Professor Chris WEBSTER and Dr Eric SCHULDENFREI
Assistant Producer: Alex TAIT
Production Assistant: Winnie YEUNG
Editor: Nick BRIER

Academic Contributors: Fengyu BAO, Dr Bin JIANG, Mathew PRYOR and Huaqing WANG
Executive Support: Weifeng TANG and Lunjing WU
Actors: Daniel CHAN, Professor Shenjing HE and Yi SUN

Green spaces have always been important in cities. As the new urban classes of Bronze-age Egypt developed new cultures, gardens were planted amongst the dense clusters of buildings that provided homes away from the fields and spaces for commercial and cultural exchange. Five thousand years later, we now know scientifically, that cities lacking in green are damaging to health. To calibrate the greening of cities, what new discoveries can be made about the psycho-physiological and behavioural interactions of humans with nature? Can ‘dose response curves’ be measured for ‘nature’? Is it the absolute quantity, or the frequency or texture, of green that matters most? Should green space all be allocated in one big central park or distributed in multiple ‘pocket parks’ or somewhere in between? What size distribution of parks within a city yields optimal happiness and mental health and induces more walking, active commuting and external recreation? If we can discover exactly how the human sensing of nature converts into neuro-transmissions in the brain and thence to mental and physical health, can we replicate the effects artificially in virtual green experiences? Might future cities have pop-in nature booths? Might urban spaces be designed physically and virtually to give the same experience as being in the Alps?

Chris Webster, HKU, 2021

Featured Location: School of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Featured HKUrbanLabs:

Virtual Reality Lab of Urban Environments & Human Health (experimental on the impacts of real and virtual green spaces on the brain)
Healthy High Density Cities Lab (the underlying science of planning for mental health)
Centre of Urban Studies and Urban Planning (mental health, elderly and urban housing)


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Jiang, B., Schmillen, R., & Sullivan, W. C. (2019). How to waste a break: Using portable electronic devices substantially counteracts attention enhancement effects of green spaces. Environment and Behavior, 51(9-10), 1133-1160.

Sarkar, C., Webster, C., & Gallacher, J. (2018). Residential greenness and prevalence of major depressive disorders: a cross-sectional, observational, associational study of 94 879 adult UK Biobank participants. The Lancet Planetary Health, 2(4), e162-e173.

Xiao, Y., Miao, S., & Sarkar, C. (2021). Social ties, spatial migration paradigm, and mental health among two generations of migrants in China. Population, Space and Place, 27(2), e2389.

Yang, L., Ho, J. Y. S., Wong, F. K. Y., Chang, K. K. P., Chan, K. L., Wong, M. S., Ho, H. C., Yuen, J. W. M., Huang, J., & Siu, J. Y. M. (2020). Neighbourhood green space, perceived stress and sleep quality in an urban population. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 54, 126763.