Is nature making people happy?

December 13, 2018


As Sara Ahmed states in The Promise of Happiness, “happiness involves affect (to be happy is to be affected by something), intentionality (to be happy is to be happy about something), and evaluation or judgement (to be happy about something makes something good).” (2010) One could start seeing nature as being the object causing happiness for people. The authors of the essay “Green space, urbanity, and health: how strong is the relation?” state that psychological researches have shown that exposure to green spaces has a “positive effect on stress reduction and attention restoration” and that “green space is positively correlated with self perceived health, number of symptoms experienced and mortality risk”. (Maas, Verheij, Groenewegen, de Vries, Spreeuwenberg 2006) In other words, exposure to vegetation improves mental and physical health, resulting in a better quality of life. Thus we could argue that nature is affecting people positively and could influence their happiness. Parks could then make city dwellers more happy by providing more exposure to nature.

As we previously observed, Hyde park is not only composed of vegetation but also presents a lot of built elements, yet people still enjoy using the park despite an important architectural presence. One can question if the urbanisation of a park influences people’s enjoyment of it. We could argue that the facilities in the park provide a various program to the visitors. Restaurants, a souvenir shop, a museum, boat renting, the park offers restorations and recreational activities in addition to bridges, benches, and designed fountains that make the promenades more picturesque. The built design fixtures are then participating in the enjoyable multi-layered experience provided by the park.

Marie Le Rouzic


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