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A Landscape A Day…

November 14, 2009

'Rolling Woods Near Salmon Lake', 30x36 inches, oil on canvas. By Jamie Kapitain

In his book Building for Life: Designing and Understanding The Human-Nature Connection, Stephen Kellert, Professor of Social Ecology at Yale University, contends that the design of buildings cuts us off from natural systems reducing our quality of life. Kellert looks to biophilia, defined as humans’ inherent affinity for the natural world, as the foundation to many of his ideas and sites two studies that suggest having images of nature on your walls is good for you.

The first study, by Roger Ulrich, Professor of Architecture at Texas A&M University, put patients recovering from heart surgery into either a room with pictures of water and trees, abstract art or no art on the walls. Ulrich found that the patients with landscapes on their walls had significantly less anxiety and demands for strong pain medication. Patients with abstract art on their walls had the highest level of stress. The second study was by NASA and found that employees with images of nature on the wall had greater “cognitive tranquility” than those with no images. Kellert concludes:

…workers who have greater contact with nature – be it natural lighting, natural ventilation, natural materials, outdoor views, or pictorial depictions – generally have better physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being.

We’ve all looked at a painting of a landscape and felt calmed or longed to walk right into the scene. Whether our attraction is biophilic or the result of the image conjuring up a good memory, there is little doubt that it feels good. My advice is hang a landscape painting on your wall. Look at it everyday and the painting just might keep the doctor away.

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