WWTF ESR 20-034
Public space fulfills a crucial role for social integration and well-being in cities. Urban greenery and art are essential elements of an attractive public space. Scientifically, this project opens new perspectives on aesthetics bridging the sciences and the arts, and investigating the potential of aesthetic episodes to unify urbanization and aestheticization. Urban vegetation has seen increasing scientific attention in the light of climate change. The effects of urban art on people, however, has not been as systematically investigated. While plants are generally appreciated, the beneficial effects of art are seen much more controversially. The present project investigates the effect of art and greening interventions in public space. Artists and scientists collaboratively develop temporary installations for a systematic analysis of the specific qualities of interventions and their effects on physiology, perception, behavior, and well-being. The mobile installations are presented at different spots in Vienna, in a seasonally and demographically balanced design. This quasi-experimental approach is complemented by standardized laboratory experiments, which enable us to validate and quantify effects found in the field study. The present project is among the first, and the most systematic, attempts to quantify the effects of urban interventions. The resulting model can serve as a basis to achieve the desired effects in public space.
The Study Site
Grätzloasen – Flexible Real Life Laboratories
The art collective Burggasse 98 – namely Frank Maria Furtschegger, Martijn Straatmann and Niklas Worisch – designed and implemented a basis for our research that can be equipped with varying content. The materials were partially upcycled from used street furniture, such as bicycle stands. We are grateful for the support from MA48 of the city of Vienna.
For this large interdisciplinary project we found a unique combination of people dedicated to art, research and improving urban live.
Helmut Leder is professor holds a chair in Empirical Visual Aesthetics (of General Psychology) at the University of Vienna where in 2004 he founded the research focus in Empirical Aesthetics, in which human aesthetic experiences are studied, regarding a variety of objects, and contexts, from neurophysiological laboratory studies, to field studies in museum and outdoors. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, more than a dozen funded projects in Empirical Aesthetics, he was the president of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics, and in Vienna is also the Head of the interdisciplinary Cognitive Sciences Research Hub. He was a Founding International Member of the Global Institute of Advanced Studies (GIAS at NYU), in 2018 Fellow at the Italian Academy – of Advanced Studies in America, at Columbia University. In 2020 he received the Arnheim Award of the APA American Psychological Association, Div.10, for Outstanding Achievement in Psychology and the Arts.
Elisabeth Oberzaucher is a behavioural scientist and evolutionary psychologist at the University of Vienna. She is the scientific director of the research institute Urban Human and President of the International Society for Human Ethology. Her research interests focus on the effects of the physical and social environment on human behaviour. Insights from basic research and applied research are the foundation for the development of specific solutions, with a focus on urban design and sustainable mobility. Her book "Homo urbanus, ein evolutionsbiologischer Blick in die Zukunft der Städte" was shortlisted as science book of the year 2018. As Member of the Science Busters she is also dedicated to communicating science to a broader audience.
I am Jan Mikuni, a Post-doc for this project at the CogSciHub of Vienna. During my Ph.D., I was enrolled in a joint-degree system, cotutelle de thèse, between Keio University (Japan) and Vienna University (Austria), investigating how to facilitate the interaction between art and human in museums as well as the effects of culture on art appreciation. My particular interest as a researcher is to connect the science to the real-life setting. As such, it’s my pleasure to join this WWTF project, making cities a better place for its dwellers.
I’m Margot Dehove, a PhD candidate at the CogSciHub of Vienna. Trained as a biologist, I ended up pursuing my passion for art by studying neuroaesthetics and the psychology of the arts. My particular interest in cities and street art prompted me to jump on board with this project. I’m really excited to conduct research that aims at understanding the importance of making the cities of tomorrow healthier and more pleasurable to live in.
Pia Marlena Böhm
I am Pia, a behavioural biologist with a passion for monkeys. Being part of Dr. Elisabeth Oberzaucher‘s lab since 2018, I am happy to be part of the data collection of the “Grätzeloasen” project, hired through a FemTech internship. When I am not in Vienna, you will find me at the Affenberg Landskron or in Japan, observing the behaviour of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata).
My name is Kathi, I am a behavioural biologist and scientific assistant of Dr. Oberzaucher. My main tasks in the project are helping with data collection and supporting students with their own projects. I am especially interested in the topics of biophilia and the influence of greening on the liveability of cities.
In addition to humans, I was also able to gain experience in bioacoustics (elephants and African wild dogs), to my great delight.
I'm Nikita and a Master's student in Psychology at the University of Vienna. I’ve been interested in understanding how the environment affects people and how to use this knowledge to design urban areas in a way that promotes people's well-being and daily experiences. So I applied to this project as an intern and was immediately hooked by the diverse research and vibrant team. Now my internship has evolved into a student assistant position and I look forward to continuing research at the interesting intersection of art, urban environment and psychology.
Philipp Zelenka is a master's student finishing his degree in psychology at the University of Vienna. He found his way into the project early on, aided by the fact that he has worked with the EVALab and associated groups for close to two years already, as a teaching assistant and intern. Having already written his bachelor's thesis on urban psychology and architecture, the Grätzeloasis project offered him a welcome bridge between the urban and aesthetic fields.
My name is Mona Magloth, I am 26 years old and I am studing for a master degree in behavioral biology. As part of an exercise at the university of Vienna, I was allowed to be part of this project and helped with the data collection. The research area of interaction between people and their environment is very interesting for me. I am convinced that with this project we can make life in a city even more attractive.
Hi, my name is Irmtraut! In addition to my training to a teacher for Biology and German, I am currently doing my master's degree in 'Behavioural, Neuronal and Cognitive Biology'. I joined this project as part of a project for my master and I'm really happy to have gotten the chance to work with all this exciting equipment and learn more about human physiology and behaviour, together with such a nice team. Together with the people from the master's project, we also used the Grätzl-Oases to carry out additional behavioural research.