Finishing touch

Watch out

Researchers have launched a study to explore how digital nature experiences can be good for us


It’s well-documented that being in nature has a profound effect on wellbeing. Good news for destination and resort spas which have expansive grounds for guests to explore.

Now, a new study by researchers in the UK could help city spas and those with little outdoor space to tap into aspects of forest bathing too.

The research will investigate our response to digital and virtual experiences of nature and is part of a wider collaboration between the BBC and the University of Exeter called Soundscapes for Wellbeing. The purpose of the study is to find out how best to bring virtual experiences of nature to those who can’t get outside.

Led by psychologist and PhD researcher Alex Smalley, the study explores people’s responses to different digital nature environments created by composer Nainita Desai and sound recordist Chris Watson. It was originally designed with vulnerable people in long-term care or those restricted to clinical settings – most of whom can’t get outdoors and are deprived of nature’s benefits. Lockdown has since increased the number of people shut off from nature and so the urge is growing to investigate how these virtual experiences could be used as an alternative means to support wellbeing.

Speaking on BBC programme WinterWatch, Smalley called digital nature encounters “therapeutic tools in their own right” and gave two possible reasons to explain this. “Firstly, we evolved in natural environments, so we should have an innate biophilic preference for viewing them as well as spending time in them,” he said. “Secondly, there are these inherent qualities in nature – things that can capture our fascination and hold our attention – which can help those parts of our brains that might be stressed and tired to recover.”

He suggested that there may be certain aspects of nature that are more rewarding, such as images and sounds of water, but also alluded to the idea that even a brief moment could have an impact. “I’m really interested in fleeting experiences in nature, things like sunrises and sunsets, which come to define a person’s encounter.”

The study’s results could provide valuable insights and evidence for spa operators on how best to use digital nature applications to boost customer wellbeing, or confirm that they’re already on the right path. For example, offering immersive VR relaxation treatments using rich nature visuals such as Sensync, and incorporating recorded wildlife soundtracks in wet and thermal experiences. Anyone who’s attended the Global Wellness Summit can also attest to the mesmerising nature-based films of Louis Schwartzberg.

In light of COVID-19, operators could make use of digital nature in touchless experiences. Plus, spas in cities could use such offerings to enhance their attraction as calming sanctuaries from busy urban life. l

The study takes 10 minutes to complete. Click to take part.

company profile
Company profile: Polin Group
Market leader in design, manufacturing and installation of waterslides and water leisure developments.
videos
BluGalaxy a Division of Blu Spas
Blu Spas
This animation showcases the beautiful concept design of BluGalaxy Spa.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, US
José Almiñana
"We are committed to designing evocative landscapes informed by the best environmental science"

The Andropogon principal on pushing the boundaries of landscape design for the benefit of humans and nature

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards is housed in 35 Hudson Yards, a tower building designed by SOM’s David Childs
"Further hotels have been confirmed for Los Angeles, Santa Clara, CA, Seattle, Chicago and Houston"

Rockwell Group and Joyce Wang on the inspirations behind the guest rooms, public spaces, spa and gym at Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards

Interview: Olga Polizzi
Olga Polizzi is director of design for Rocco Forte Hotels and also owns two of her own hotels
"On Via Sistina, everything breathes history. At the same time I wanted to reflect the modern hunger for the fantastical - Tommaso Ziffer"

Following the highly anticipated launch of Rome’s Hotel de la Ville, Rocco Forte’s director of design reflects on a fascinating project

Scott Lee designed the family’s residence, the first LEED-H certified home in Marin County, US
Scott Lee became president of SB Architects in 2000. Tracy Lee founded TLee Spas in 2015
"We design to connect the guest to the place, positioning people at the centre of the design"

Architect Scott Lee and spa consultant Tracey Lee on marrying the worlds of design and wellness in a series of interesting projects

features
Dana Kalczak
"If we had focused entirely on high tech in the hotel, the artistry we normally strive for would have been compromised"

Four Seasons’ vice president of design speaks to CLAD about working with Norman Foster and creating magical moments

The new building forms the backbone of the masterplan developed by DCA in 1999
Alexander Schwarz
"Our aim was to create a place celebrating public space and accessibility"

The opening of the James-Simon- Galerie on Berlin’s Museum Island completes two decades of work for David Chipperfield Architects. The lead designer talks us through the building

Houston’s Memorial Park is being restored following hurricane damage
Thomas Woltz
"I am very proud of stewarding the largest public space to be built in Manhattan in a century"

The Wall Street Journal’s Design Innovator of the Year on designing the gardens at Hudson Yards and looking to the Native Americans for ideas on how to create a resilient future

cladkit product news
Siminetti unveils first glimpses of Mother of Pearl decorative surfaces inspired by the four seasons
The new winter design is finished with naturally occurring hexagonal patterns found in snowflakes
Megan Whitby
Siminetti has collaborated with British designer Chrisanna London to create a luxury Mother of Pearl decorative surface range inspired by ...
ASPA International launches handheld UV-C light disinfection lamp
The compact plug-in product can be used easily in a commercial spa or domestic setting to disinfect surfaces with UV-C light
Megan Whitby
For over 30 years, ASPA International has designed and built high-quality spas for the hotel, health and wellness sectors. During ...
Christie laser projectors power new Five Senses Bubble dome theatre
The dome aims to integrate technology with arts and culture
Magali Robathan
Christie® GS Series 1DLP® laser projectors are delivering vivid and lifelike visuals in a new dome theatre located in Xiong’an ...
cladkit product news
Painting with Light pushes boundaries to create unforgettable visual concepts
The team combines lighting, video, sound and special effects, with scenic and architectural elements, to create unforgettable visual experiences
Megan Whitby
Belgium-based light and video design studio, Painting with Light, will translate the story of your location into a visual experience, ...
Cosm unveils Experience Centre with ‘one of a kind’ LED dome
The new Experience Centre houses a 20m LED dome
Magali Robathan
Cosm, a global technology company that builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences, has unveiled its Experience Centre which houses a ...
Atelier Alain Ellouz launches handcrafted precious stone lighting collection
LYRA has a sleek, cylindrical design complete with an elegant brass dimming switch
Megan Whitby
LYRA, GAMA, MONA and ATHENA are the first pieces from designer Atelier Alain Ellouz’s new.édition collection of handcrafted stone lighting ...
cladkit product news
LianTronics’ glasses-free 3D Star Trek LED screen attracts attention
Magali Robathan
LianTronics’ giant curved LED wall with stunning glasses-less 3D spaceship display effect has attracted many on the street of Chengdu, ...
Móz Designs columns anchor the world’s largest indoor aquarium
The design of the columns was inspired by the sea
Magali Robathan
After a two-year renovation, Oakland-based metal experts Móz Designs have unveiled their inclusion in Georgia Aquarium’s new shark gallery. Located ...
Diamond balloon concept merges tourist attraction with advertising billboard
Magali Robathan
A group of Dutch engineers have presented a new attractions concept that combines a flying observation cabin with LED digital ...