Tranquil spaces can help people feel calm and relaxed in cities
If you live in a busy city, finding tranquillity in your daily life can be a challenge. Research shows that green spaces on side roads, which are often hidden from view, tend to have high levels of tranquillity due to the screening effects of buildings from the noise of busy streets. Pedestrianised squares in towns and cities were also shown to be acceptably tranquil because of the distance from traffic - some of these squares also featured grass and trees.
Similarly, well-maintained side streets - especially with avenues of trees - or heritage buildings can also score highly due to good visual attributes combined with low traffic noise. Close proximity to water was also shown to be good for tranquillity because it is naturally nice to look at and is relaxing to listen to. To boost the tranquillity of an area, the first step is to reduce man-made noise. Obviously on a city scale this could be done by things like rerouting traffic, lorry bans and low-noise road surfacing, as well as noise barriers. But in terms of your own surroundings, anything you can do to reduce unnatural noise the better. Higher and longer fences and walls next to the road can help here. As can creating a small quiet area with perhaps a natural-sounding water feature close by.
Increasing the percentage of natural features through "greening" can also help to boost the tranquillity of an area. Introducing more trees, shrubs, or trellising to "hide" building facades, makes people feel less stressed and calmer in their surroundings - so go wild with the greenery. Having "natural" sounds can also help to make a place feel more tranquil. This could be done by installing a water feature or pond. This which will not only help in terms of relaxation but it will also encourage water fowl and birds. What all this shows is that creating a refuge from the din of city life doesn't have to be a huge task. And it is often neglected green spaces that can be re-imagined as havens of tranquillity.
I think this goes without saying. This article does however remind us to seek the green spaces (however small or unassuming) around us, particularly in our working days, and to embrace some calm time in them. Maybe eat lunch out is a small square, or take a brisk walk. We can't change the world around us overnight but we can change the way we see the world around us.