I in-person NeuroLandscape Workshop | Korthi-Greece | 7-9 May 2022

Natural and Cultural Heritage for Healthier and More Sustainable Urban Realms

The first, in-person scientific meeting of NeuroLandscape Team, titled "Natural and Cultural Heritage for Healthier and More Sustainable Urban Realms" took place among beautiful landscapes of the Greek island of Andros, hosted at the local Korthi Town Hall. 

The program of a 3-day event included:

SATURDAY (7.05.2022)

Time Presentation title - Speaker (Affiliation) Language
11:15 - 11:30 Welcome & Opening with Coffee GR/ENG
11:30 - 12:00 Contemplative Landscapes for Sustainable Tourism -  Dr. Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo (NeuroLandscape) ENG
12:00 - 12:30 Nature-Based Solutions for More Inclusive and Resilient Communities - Dr. Weronika Gasior (NeuroLandscape) ENG
12:30 - 13:00 A.I. Tools for Cultural Heritage and Tourism - Dr. Theofrastos Mantadelis (NeuroLandscape) ENG

SUNDAY (8.05.2022)

10:00 - 10:30 Impact in Post-pandemic Times: Neuroscience to the Rescue - Dr. Nicolas Escoffier (NeuroLandscape) ENG
10:30 - 11:15 Gender Equality Plan as a necessary tool for Horizon Europe Applications - Dr. Weronika Gasior (NeuroLandscape) ENG
11:15 - 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:00 Korthian Artists 1850-1950 - Mr. Aristeidis Mantadelis (Civil Engineer) GR/ENG
12:00 - 13:00 Can you  see what you’re looking at?: Contemplative Landscape Features Recognition and Assessment - outdoor workshop - Dr. Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo (NeuroLandscape) ENG

MONDAY (9.05.2022)

10:00 - 10:30 Dimetra - Predicting vulnerable goods disease before transportation - Dr. Theofrastos Mantadelis (NeuroLandscape) ENG
10:30 - 11:15 Sustainable food systems in the EU legal framework - Ms. Aleksandra Zaborowska (Neurolandscape and EP) ENG
11:15 - 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:00 Climate Change and Water Management - case study of Khulna, Bangladesh - Ms. Nazwa Tahsin (NeuroLandscape) ENG
12:00 - 12:30 VinhoLandscape - An Introduction to the Wines of Northern Portugal - Mr. Raul J.Guizzo (Symington Family Estates) ENG
12:30 - 13:00 Wine Tasting - workshop - Mr. Raul J.Guizzo (Symington Family Estates) ENG


EASCAPE VR – our first Virtual Healthy Environment

EASCAPE VR – our first Virtual Healthy Environment launching soon!

Thanks to Virtual Reality technology, our mission of providing science-based mental health tools through bringing people closer to nature, and specifically Contemplative Landscapes, has taken life in the form of EASCAPE.

It’s our free VR app that enables you to enjoy Contemplative Landscapes from the comfort of your home.


Because it lets you escape from everyday stress to immerse yourself in the healing power of nature, to ease the mind and enjoy beautiful Contemplative Landscapes carefully curated by scientists, whenever and wherever you decide to – all you need is a pair of VR goggles. After an intensive season of work and scientific testing with our partners, EPIC VR and Brainstorm, we are ready to share this exciting news with you - our app is becoming available very soon!

Best part? It’s completely free!

To make sure you don’t miss the grand release, you can subscribe to our newsletter (, like and follow our Facebook page (, and if you’re already a VR user, you can add EASCAPE to your Steam wish list (
Ready to ease your mind with a virtual journey?

We are!
#mentalhealth #eascape #eascapevr #virtualreality

BBC Worls Service, My perfect City

NeuroLandscape featured in BBC “My Perfect City”

NeuroLandscape featured in BBC "My Perfect City" Series episode which was released on: 30 Dec 2020

New episode of the BBC World Service "My perfect city" features Dr Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo among other experts.  They discuss Singapore as a city which attempts to improve residents' mental wellbeing through urban design.

Generally, people in cities are likely to experience mental health problems.  This counts for about 38% more than people living outside of big cities. Urban greening and creating therapeutic gardens with contemplative features can really help. But also, promoting high amenity public spaces,  physical exercise, housing security and social services are important too! These solutions can make a city more liveable but also reduce rates of disorders such as OCD, anxiety and depression.

But are these community-based, non-medical approaches enough to improve mental health among the population of the highly urbanized Singapore? Let's find out!


Listen to the end to find out if Singapore receives 3 ticks -  a perfect city mark.  This means that Singapore should be an example to follow by other cities!

Taking part in the podcast like this one was a great experience. Thanks to endeavours like this one we can share the knowledge from the scientists and inform the public!

Here are some other blog posts related to Singapore:

  1. Singapore Urban Sustainability MND Congress.
  2. IFLA Conference, Singapore
  3. Neuroscience data collection outdoors
  4. NeuroLandscape featured in BBC "My Perfect City"
Conscious Cities Festival

Healthy Cities – Cities for Humans, Conscious Warsaw 2020 (VIDEO)

A speech presented during the "Conscious Warsaw - Sensing our City" webinar organized by the Center for Conscious Design, which took place on October 22, 2020, in Polish (English subtitles available in this video!).

Dr. Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo presented a new concept of designing mentally healthy cities based on contact with salutogenic natural landscapes (Contemplative Landscapes) and introduced the scientific background and activities of her NGO.

The entire webinar is available on

Centre for Conscious Design:


Designing & Using School Grounds to Support Mental Health (Video Available!)

The video from the webinar is already available on! The webinar organized by the International School Grounds Alliance and the Children &Nature Network on how school grounds can be designed and used to support took place on June 23rd 2020, and featured research and design insights on how to design mentally healthy outdoor spaces for children.

Everyone interested in design for children will find a lot of inspiration in this video, in other words it's a must-see! We are very proud and grateful that NeuroLandscape could be a part of this insightful panel!

The program featured:

  1. an introduction to the ISGA activity by Kerry Logan;
  2. showcasing international best-practice examples, by Kathrin Schmiele;
  3. research and design lessons from neuroscience by Dr Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo;
  4. strategies for the design of schoolyards for students Claire Latané.

Related post


Elizabeth & Nona Evans Restorative Garden, a Garden for Contemplation

I have recently found a great piece of literature about designing urban gardens for well-being. “Restorative commons: Creating health and well-being through urban landscapes” by Campbell, Lindsay; Wiesen, Anne published in 2009 under USDA – Forest Service.

Here is the link to the online resource – available free pdf version!

What specifically caught my attention there is the description of the case example of the Elizabeth & Nona Evans Restorative Garden in Cleveland, a winner of a design charrette. Part of this design is a Garden for Contemplation, inviting specifically the elderly and persons with disabilities

The space is easy to comprehend and inviting to first-time visitors who discover smaller
more private spaces within. This verdant, quiet garden is gracious and
welcoming. It is lush; its colors calm and serene. The design reflects
the proportion, scale, and fine detailing of the adjacent handsome
modern limestone library

It is beautifully designed with consideration of all aspects of a contemplative model. One interesting aspect is that it contains poems in Braille’s language

The height of the pool in relation to the adjacent path was carefully considered to allow visitors to see
reflections of trees and sky whether sitting or standing. Behind it a fountain flows from the top of the low wall into a basin.

I encourage everyone to have a look at this chapter, and others, that bring the best available knowledge about the landscape design for Health and Well-being!

[simple author]
watson hockerdesign

Maintenance of green in the city and health

Different initiatives undertaken by the urban authorities can contribute to the improvement of urban dweller’s contact with nature and the nature exposure

These include:

  1. Leaving unmowed areas in the urban green spaces, for developing a small ecosystems for flora & fauna, (urban meadows)
  2. Promoting the spontaneous habitat creation
  3. Leaving the fallen leaves on the ground for the winter (improves conditions of the soil)

These actions, (or rather withdrawing from action) not only improve the urban ecosystems functioning, but also can save some money in the local budget. Most importantly however from our point of view, they improve the sense of connectedness of people with urban nature, by making the changing seasons noticeable, and more pronounced, enabling the observation of the life phases of the plant and ultimately contemplation of the continuous life cycles.

These three postulate  were included in an open letter to the Major of Warsaw, Poland by the local community and proffessionals, and will contribute to the  Greenery Council (Zarzad Zieleni) activities, (see the campaign here ).  Because of the postulates are strongly aligned with the NeuroLandscape’s vision of the city, we support this action, and look forward to positive changes on city lawns!


A Place for Yourself Everywhere.

Research has proven that time alone in outdoor nature is beneficial for our mental and physical health.  One of the Contemplative Landscape characteristics is the “sense of solitude” that one can experience when immersed in the landscape.

Yet, the urban high stress pace of life “enjoyed” by many across the globe makes finding such a spot difficult. While it is common for cities to increase their foliage, it is often hard to measure how effective their efforts are.

However, here at NeuroLandscape, our research allows up to strive further in incorporate nature into our own everyday surroundings. Creating a seamless experience that can be enjoyed by all who inhabit the same space.

You can also assess the link from here:


Hidden in Plain Sight

Urban landscape surrounding most of us nowadays, offers more than just the face value that we see. Urban ecosystem services are presenting terrific potentials for the growing communities. Landscape design for health and well-being goes hand in hand with the design for fresh produce and urban farming opportunities. 

There is plenty evidence to show this dynamics. In this TED talk, we show an example from Detroit,  Devita Davison from FOODLAB Detroit brings viewers on a 12 min tour on how the city's weakness can become its future. We are so into discovering such transformative opportunities!

Landform – Contemplative Landscape Features Series

One of the core questions in our quest for making landscapes more contemplative have been identifying what actually makes a space contemplative or not. Having discussed the importance of long-distance views in an earlier post (click here), today, we turn to a characteristic under the label ‘landform’ in defining a contemplativeness of landscape. So what hides under this category? 

In a way, we can say we continue looking out into the distance, as was true in the first category we introduced. The landform category is based on contemplative features such as smoothness of the ground and manipulation of the skyline (through opening and closings of views, as well as through introducing some specific elements of the skyline) to stimulate looking up to the sky. This suggests that the subtle hills and mounds and diversified skyline would be the most desired for contemplation, thus flat or rugged landforms are expected to be weaker in the classification of their contemplativeness. 

Since there are no sharp edges or geometric figures in the natural world, smooth shapes remind us of the structures created by nature. Not only does mimicking nature in designed landscapes satisfy our need to reconnect with nature, but it is also considered the highest masterpiece of design:

[…] Growth of the vision and contemplation of nature enables him [a designer] to rise towards a metaphysical view of the world and to form free abstract structures which surpass schematic intention and achieve a new naturalness of the work. Then he creates a work … that is the image of God’s work (Klee, 1923, p. 17). 

Forms inspired by nature are very familiar to us psychologically as we all come from nature, and are marked with bio-preference, namely biophilia. In other words, we all love nature on a deep psychological level. Environments rich in natural views and imagery reduce our stress, enhance focus and concentration, and have restorative benefits as proven in research by environmental psychologists (James, 1892, 1984; Kaplan & Kaplan, 1982). Not only does actual contact with nature count, but even contact with different types of representations of it, such as posters, window views or nature-like sculptures, are sufficient to induce the biophilia effect (Kaplan & Kaplan, 1995). 

Singapore Botanic Garden

Having said that, though, “too much of nature” is not preferred. Places that are too wild or without identity will not make us feel safe. We have evolved in such a way that we don’t feel comfortable in wilderness untouched by human hands. Our evolution made us adapt to spaces where the wilderness is under control, moderated and maintained, similar to natural reserves, parks, and urban gardens. Research on landscape preference has shown that people prefer scenes with ‘tamed nature’ over ‘wild nature’’, where human intervention such as mown grass, boardwalks, and bridges are present (Kaplan et al., 1998). We also have a preference for “smooth ground” with an undulating, moundy form. Hermann, in his description of the Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm (see image below) as the example of the most contemplative landscape design, seems to confirm this statement. He describes the soothing and peaceful character provided by leveling and smoothing over the ground, creating a large clearing with an elevated heart of the cemetery called Meditation Grove:

The ground here is a continuous blanket of surprisingly lush green lawn (Hermann, 2005, p. 56). 

Another interesting design strategy that purportedly triggers the contemplative response is connected with looking at the sky and its vastness, due to its “coolness and distant serenity” (Zelanski & Fisher, 1996, p. 236). In every outdoor space, the sky is the ceiling and the atmosphere of Earth is the huge dome of every landscape. Looking towards the sky delivers the longest view and a feeling of vastness. This is why looking up to the sky, watching the sunset or moving clouds, and observation of stars at night has been connected to contemplation. 

While the sky itself is not an element that can be designed, the designer can certainly use some particular tricks to stimulate the visitor to look up at the skyline (Hermann, 2005). The viewer can be stimulated to look up at the sky by managing the level of the point of view. If focal-designed elements are located above the head of the viewer, they will usually look up automatically. The easiest way to change the point of view is to sit down, then while looking around we see much less sky, and much more ground, and if the designed elements and structure is leading our attention up, we will then look up (such as benches). Also, manipulating the skyline by inserting towering elements as opposed to a flat skyline is one strategy to make us look up. The design does not have to necessarily make us raise our heads in a large or small motion, what matters is managing the attention. It can be achieved by designing a mirror of still water in which the sky reflects (Hermann, 2005; Hou, 2015). This strategy is also connected to a strong archetype of water, and can be achieved in the designed landscape by implementing equipment that makes us sit back or lay with our eyes up towards the sky. Another trick is introducing hills, mounds and a viewpoint to achieve this particular effect. 

To show a clear example of how this works in practice, let us leave you with the final image straight from the Teletubbies. The landscape with smooth undulating landform and mounds has a ‘safe haven’ sort of air about it, with calming effects for children… and adults alike.

Based on Olszewska, A. (2016) “Contemplative Values of Urban Parks and Gardens Applying Neuroscience to Landscape Architecture”, PhD thesis, University of Porto, Portugal, with some parts quoted verbatim.

Other references:

Hermann, H. (2005). On the transcendent in landscapes of contemplation. In Contemporary Landscapes of Contemplation. Krinke, R. (Ed). 36-72.

Hou, R. (2015, January). From Beijing to Washington—A Contemplation in the Concept of Municipal Planning. In Symposium on Chinese Historical Geography (pp. 61- 82). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

James, W. (1892). A plea for psychology as a'natural science'. The Philosophical Review, 1(2), 146-153.

Kaplan, S., & Kaplan, R. (1982). Cognition and Environment: Functioning in an Uncertain World.

Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: T oward an integrative framework. Journal of environmental psychology, 15(3), 169-182.

Kaplan, R., Kaplan, S., & Ryan, R. (1998).With people in mind: Design and management of everyday nature. Washington DC: Island Press.

Klee, P. (1923). Ways of Studying Nature, Lecture at the Bauhaus. New York, Roizzoli, 984, pp. 17-18

Zelanski, P. & Fisher, M. P. (1996). Design Principles & Problems. Brace College: New York. 


  • Toronto Skyline (2010),  Photo by: Nicola Betts, Source:
  • Singapore Botanic Gardens 
  • Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm (Landscape Architecture Works, Landezine)  
  • Teletubbies (source: