Green spaces offer city dwellers the chance to escape the concrete jungle and experience the benefits of nature – but only if those spaces are well designed. Researchers at North Carolina State University used virtual reality to explore different types of urban green spaces and test perceptions.

Researchers captured 360-degree, high-resolution images of a city park and downtown plaza in the city of Raleigh, and manipulated vegetation to create multiple environments.

They found that virtual visitors to the downtown plaza wanted to be surrounded by vegetation. “In an urban setting, being enclosed by vegetation feels restorative,” said doctoral student and landscape architect, Payam Tabrizian. “It can serve as a shield from the urban environment and create a kind of refuge where people can sit and relax for a while. People preferred urban environments that were very green and being enclosed in vegetation didn’t seem to bother them that much.”

Read the full article by Lacey Cooke for Inhabitat here.