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Airdate: Sep 11, 2015
Scientist: Colin Ellard

Psychogeography - Bricks, Sky and Green

Psychogeography  -  Bricks, Sky and Green
The recipe for an enlivening cityscape? A good mix of blue and green.

Transcript:
Bricks, Sky and Green

Ambience: City Traffic

Cities can sometimes seem a bit oppressive. The remedy could be liberal doses of blue and green. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Ellard: One of the properties that can vary quite a bit in city environments is something that the Japanese call oppressiveness.

Colin Ellard is a cognitive neuroscientist and the author of Places of the Heart: the Psychogeography of Everyday Life.

Ellard: It's something that happens when too much of our entire visual fields are taken up by nothing more than concrete or brick. So if you think of everything you can see in from a particular location in the city as being composed of really three things: one is built structure like concrete brick, the second is sky; the third is vegetation. The balance of those three elements has a profound impact on how we feel and what we like in city environments. When that balance shifts too much in the direction of the concrete, that's when we begin to feel hat quality of oppressiveness that we don't like.
Here what we're seeing is a grouping of trees planted in the boulevard. This is a pretty open spot; I can see lots of sky. It's not a very oppressive setting as it stands. One of the ways you can break up that feeling even in a dense setting is through plantings on the street. Because even if you're surrounded by skyscrapers, if you've got some tree plantings, or some other features on the street, then you feel less oppressed.
One thing to notice as you walk down a city street is how that balance shifts. In this location it's actually pretty good. But that can change dramatically if you think of the very central part of downtown, there's much more oppressiveness.

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