Green Is Not Just Green : human colour perception in urban green contexts

Abstract: The thesis is intended to be part of a larger process and field, by helping to increase understanding of how changed colour characteristics in urban green spaces can influence human experiences. More specifically, the thesis explores whether human colour perception is influenced by factors such as viewing distance, seasons, species mixture, or colourful artefacts incorporated in urban green spaces. In situ studies were performed in southern Sweden, using public parks and welldefined forest stands as experimental areas. Three empirical studies were conducted in the form of quasi-experiments and combined studies involving colour perception and environmental assessment methods. The main findings are structured around Johannes Itten’s colour contrast concepts from the 1960s (Itten, 2002), Berlyne’s arousal model (1971) and the concept of hedonic values. The main results are discussed in terms of the effect of viewing distances on colour perception and the effect of colour contrast on visitor experience. In addition, the findings are related to methodological considerations and constraints, with a discussion of a quantitative approach concerning determination of colours and the use of expert respondents. In today’s urban green spaces, bright and intense colourful artefacts are increasingly playing a role as visual contributors. According to the results, the coloured additions in green-dominated areas seem to affect human colour perception when viewed from both a short distance (3 metres) and a longer distance (15 metres) in a public park. These findings might also apply to colourful plantations in park environments like perennialand annual borders. The results also indicate that human experiences relate to perceived colour characteristics, which in turn relate to surrounding environmental colours and viewing distance. The findings emphasise that awareness of colour aspects, such as perceived colour contrasts and the effect of viewing distance on perceived colours and related human experiences, should be addressed in the planning and design of urban environment processes. The knowledge from this thesis could support landscape and garden designers in their work to develop outdoor environments that are attractive for humans.

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