News, events and research updates

‘Deiner emotionale Stadt’ / ‘Your Emotional City’ - New Study Launched

"Your Emotional City" is a joint project of Interdisciplinary Forum Neurourbanistik e.V., Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Futurium Berlin, House of the Future, and is funded under the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder by the Berlin University Alliance.

With the help of Berlin citizens and the Urban Mind App the project will investigate stress and well-being in the city. The aim is to create an emotional heat map of Berlin in order to explore how cities can be made more liveable in the future.

What is the study about? It is known that stress-related mental illnesses occur more frequently among city residents. With this project, we therefore want to explore when and where the city causes stress. With this citizen science project we would like together with you to identify risk factors for mental health, but also the positive resources of the city. In the long term, this can lead to an improvement in the mental health, well-being and quality of life of city residents. Our common goal is to create an emotional map of Berlin. Furthermore, one goal of this study is to evaluate and establish new citizen science methods that actively involve citizens in research processes.

“Deine emotionale Stadt” ist ein gemeinsames Projekt vom Interdisziplinären Forum Neurourbanistik e.V., der Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin und dem Futurium Berlin, Haus der Zukünfte und wird gefördert im Rahmen der Exzellenzstrategie von Bund und Ländern durch die Berlin University Alliance.

Mit Hilfe von Berliner Bürger*innen und der Urban Mind App möchte “Deine emotionale Stadt” Stress und Wohlbefinden in der Stadt untersuchen und eine emotionale Heat Map Berlins erzeugen um herauszufinden, wie Städte in Zukunft lebenswerter gestaltet werden können.

Was ist das Ziel der Studie? Es ist bekannt, dass stressabhängige psychische Erkrankungen bei Stadtbewohnerinnen gehäuft auftreten. Wir wollen mit diesem Projekt daher erforschen, wann und wo die Stadt Stress verursacht. Mit diesem bürgerwissenschaftlichen Projekt möchten wir gemeinsam mit Ihnen einen Beitrag dazu leisten, Risikofaktoren für die psychische Gesundheit, aber auch die positiven Ressourcen der Stadt zu identifizieren. Dies kann langfristig gesehen zu einer Verbesserung der psychischen Gesundheit, des Wohlbefindens und der Lebensqualität von Stadtbewohnerinnen führen. Unser gemeinsames Ziel ist es, eine emotionale Stadtkarte Berlins zu schaffen. Weiterhin ist ein Ziel dieser Studie, neue bürgerwissenschafltiche Methoden (Citizen Science) zu bewerten und zu etablieren, die Bürger*innen bei Forschungsprozessen aktiv beteiligen.

You can download the ‘Deiner emotionale Stadt’ / ‘Your Emotional City’ app here: Google Play / App Store.

'Plan the Planet', Architectural Association, London

Session 3: What is a state of nature? Green is not a colour.

Series: Open Seminar - Plan the Planet

Date: Monday 21 October 2019

Time: 18:30

Venue: Architectural Association Lecture Hall

Green is not a colour will look at the moment where art and the natural world come together, asking how it is that the artist can provide an alternative view and mode of engaging with the environment. As a starting point of discussion, we will ask the speakers to respond to the provocation that the ubiquity of environmental concern has lead to an often flippant quality of discussion, whereby ‘being green’ becomes a political tool aimed almost exclusively at garnishing support. In this session of Plan the Planet, we will discuss the downsides of mainstream environmentalism, with artists who have helped humankind reconceive of nature and our relationship to it.

Organised by Silvana Taher & Matilde Cassani; Michael Smythe (Urban Mind) and Thomas Thwaites.

'Lonely in a crowd: investigating the association between overcrowding and loneliness using smartphone technologies'

"Loneliness is significant mental health concern and can raise risk of death by 45%, say scientists.” The Guardian - Damian Carrington

Over the past couple of years we have been exploring how contact with nature, especially in cities, can help reduce loneliness.

Loneliness - the feeling of distress resulting from a discrepancy between one’s desired and actual social relationships, is a universal experience, found irrespective of age, gender, socioeconomic status and culture. Prospective studies suggest that the degree of loneliness predicts subsequent mental health symptoms, including depression, alcoholism, suicidal behaviour and cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s disease, and physical health issues, including immune and cardiovascular disease.

To put things into perspective, while air pollution, obesity, and excessive alcohol use have been found to increase a person's mortality risk by 6%, 23%, and 37% respectively, loneliness increases the risk of death by 45%.

Our research found that feelings of overcrowding increased loneliness by an average of 39%. But when people were able to see trees or hear birds, feelings of loneliness fell by 28%.

Urban Mind is a collaboration between King’s College London, landscape architects J&L Gibbons, Nomad Projects and hundreds of Citizen Scientist who contributed to this research.

Our new research has been published in Scientific Reports and The Guardian .

Canal & River Trust - Citizen Science Research

Urban Mind & the Canal & River Trust are collaborating on an ambitious nation-wide citizen science project exploring the mental health benefits of spending time beside water. The study ran between spring 2020 & summer 2021, involving hundreds of independent Citizen Science researchers across England and Wales.

This is the largest citizen science project the Canal & River Trust has ever undertaken to record the benefits of spending time beside water.

The Urban Mind team are currently analysing the research data. We will share our findings here and on the Canal & River Trust website in the spring of 2022. Please get in touch if you have any questions or queries on this specific study.

Covid-19 Research

The Covid-19 outbreak, and the physical distancing measures put in place to contain it, have changed the way we live our day-to-day life and interact with one another.

King’s College London, the University of Bergen and Universidad del País Vasco are currently inviting individuals to participate in the Urban Mind Covid-19 project. This research aims to help us better understand how this unprecedented situation is impacting our behaviours and wellbeing.

To take part in the project, please download our free Urban Mind app via the Apple Store or Google Play, select “join private study” option and enter the password “c19”.

Participation is completely anonymous. We do not ask for your name, address or any other identifying information, and we don’t require your phone number or email address. While geolocation, audio recordings and photos meet the definition of personal identifiable information, we will not link this data to you as an individual. For further information, please see our Privacy Policy.

'How To Measure Baukultur' - Swiss Federal Office of Culture, Geneva

Date: 4th November 2019

Time: 16:20

Venue: The Pavillon Sicli, Geneva

Neil Davidson (Urban Mind / J & L Gibbons) will present recent research on how we can improve the built environment.

In January 2018 the European Ministers of Culture adopted the Davos Declaration calling for a high-quality Baukultur to improve the well-being of all. To understand how we can improve the built environment, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the International Union of Architects, and the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects will hold a conference on “How to measure Baukultur”.

But how exactly do we define high-quality Baukultur? How can it be achieved? How can Baukultur be assessed? These are the questions the conference aims to address. The conference is intended to serve as an international high-level event linking areas of expertise that are not directly associated with Baukultur with Baukultur stakeholders.

NATURE AND WELL-BEING in the Design of Contemporary Public Space

Date: 28th January, 2019

Time: 9am - 7pm

Location: Architecture Department University of Naples Federico II

Urban Mind research, Neil Davisons, will be presenting on nature & wellbeing in the design of contemporary public space. LANDSCAPE AS PUBLIC NATURE in the city: Speakers include

Introduction: Isotta Cortesi Federico II University of Naples

  • Erlijn Mulder - Policy and strategy maker for city and well-being, City of Utrecht
  • Miriam Weber - Senior policy advisor, Healthy City Coordinator, City of Utrecht
  • Sue Evans - Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT), WHO
  • Jonathan Stenvall - Photographer, Stockholm
  • Håkan Johnsson - Topia landskapsarkitekter, Stockholm
  • Gianni Celestini - Sapienza University of Rome
  • Neil Davidson - Urban Mind / J+L Gibbons, London
  • Naziha Mestaoui - Artist, Paris
  • Tessa Matteini - University of Florence
  • Gullivar Shepard - Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, New York

'Using Smartphone Technologies to Investigate the Impact of the Urban Environment on Mental Health in Real Time'

Date: 17th January, 2019

Time: 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Location: Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong

Michael Smythe (Nomad Projects) & Andrea Mechelli (King's College London) will discuss the Urban Mind project, specifically exploring how the results could inform the development and roll-out of scalable clinical interventions aimed at promoting mental health in large urban populations. From the perspective of urban planning and design, the results could provide a much-needed evidence-base to inform future policies aimed at planning and designing healthier cities.

All welcome. For enquiry, please email

Urban Environment & Mental Health - University of New South Wales

People & Place Research Cluster + High Performance Architecture Cluster host a public lecture by Urban Mind.

Time: 2pm - 3:30pm

Date: 15th January, 2019

Location: Room 4035, Red Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Join Andrea Mechelli (King's College London) & Michael Smythe (Nomad Projects) as they discuss Urban Mind, a cross-disciplinary research project exploring smartphone technoligies, social architecture and mental health. Andrea & Michael will present the results of their pilot study and discuss how the project will lead multiple translational applications.

Living Closer: The Many Faces of co-housing.

Date: 22nd November, 2018

Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Location: Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place W1B 1AD

Studio Weave Director Je Ahn will be joined by co-author Olivia Tusinski and a panel of speakers to discuss how people are living within a variety of co-housing schemes, the potential impact on our happiness and why housing diversity matters in a context of housing shortages and the growing evidence on the pressures of living in cities.


Je Ahn, Studio Weave (Chair): Je is a director of architectural practice Studio Weave & strategic design practice 00, designing and delivering a range of projects in the built environment for a variety of clients including schools, charities, hospitals, museums, local authorities and housing associations. He is a co-author of Living Closer: The Many Faces of co-housing.

Olivia Tusinski, 00: Olivia is a lead researcher at 00, where she has contributed policy research and qualitative evidence to a number of high-level strategies and strategic briefs for 'new' institutions in development. She also works part-time within the Greater London Authority’s Regeneration and Economic Development team, convening high-level partnerships and strengthening socio-economic, culture and skills related angles of projects receiving Mayoral investment. She is a co-author of Living Closer: The Many Faces of co-housing.

Professor Andrea Mechelli, Urban Mind: Based in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, Andrea is the lead of a cross-disciplinary project which brings together clinicians, neuroscientists, urban planners, designers and artists around a shared interest in urban mental health.

Jamie Perera, Composer/Artist: Jamie is a composer and artist, who is also a resident at Grand Union Housing Coop in East London. He was one of eight interviewed for the research, Living Closer: The Many Faces of co-housing.

Professor Sue Heath, School of Social Sciences, Manchester University: Sue is a Deputy Associate Dean for Postgraduate Research, and co-director of the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives. She co-authored Shared housing, shared lives: Everyday experiences across the lifecourse.

Nick Taylor, Head of Area, Housing and Land Directorate, Greater London Authority: Nick is a leader of delivering new investment proposals within the Mayor’s Housing Covenant and developing the delivery strategies for Housing Zones. He is currently developing proposals for the new Innovation Fund in the Homes for Londoners AHP 16 -21. Prior to the GLA he was ‘Head of Investment’ in London at the Housing Corporation and HCA.

Health, wellbeing and place – how landscape practitioners can deliver positive change

Date: 29th November, 2018

Time: 9:00am - 5:00pm

Location: Future Inn Cardiff Hotel, Hemingway Road, Cardiff CF10 4AU

Explore the link between place, health and wellbeing.

Neil Davidson will introduce the international cross-disciplinary research project Urban Mind. During the session Neil will explain the role that participants play as citizen scientists during the research and the techniques used to capture data.

He will explain how this data helps us understand better the factors in the environment that impact mental health and wellbeing and will explore how these results will be used to inform new approaches to clinical intervention and inform the planning and design of healthier cities.

Neil's talk will explore the following;

  1. An introduction to mental wellbeing as a design consideration for cities and rural landscapes
  2. Insights into the process of digital data analysis combining real-time data capture and geotagged spatial data
  3. Opportunities to connect research and practice across the fields of wellbeing and landscape architecture
  4. Opportunities to influence policy and project implementation

Book here.

Neil Davidson is a landscape architect and partner of J & L Gibbons and director of Landscape Learn. He trained at Edinburgh College of Art. He has lead on projects that include sub-regional strategic plans for London, public parks and higher education projects. He is particularly experienced in the assessment, design, conservation and management of a wide range of historic and statutorily protected landscapes, parks and gardens. Neil is interested in a collaborative design approach that reveals synergies between the natural, built, social and cultural environment, using thorough research to explore the use of historic narratives in a contemporary context.

He is a founder of Urban Mind a cross-disciplinary project investigating how the urban environment affects mental wellbeing. Neil maintains strong links with education. He led a diploma unit at the Architectural Association and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Cambridge, CASS and Edinburgh College of Art. Neil is a Built Environment Expert for CABE at the Design Council and a trustee of the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust.

The Conscious Cities Festival 2018

Date: 23rd October, 2018

Time: 11:00am – 12:00pm

Location: Online @

The Conscious Cities Festival gathers those interested in the creation of human-centred environments. Research and practice using the conscious cities approach explores how architecture and urban design can better consider and respond to human needs through science informed design, data analysis and new technology.

This year’s festival looks at the key factors in creating a better built environment. The events over 5 days will focus on Architecture, Urban Design, City Tech, Behavioural Science, and Property.

Andrea Mechelli is Professor of Early Intervention in Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, and a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS.

Andrea will give a presentation on Urban Mind – using smartphone technologies to investigate the impact of the urban environment on mental wellbeing in real time.

Birmingham 2038: Social infrastructure

Date: 11th October, 2018

Time: 5:30pm - 7:00pm

Location: The Colmore Building, 20 Colmore Circus, Birmingham

Book here.

In-line with the city’s motto ‘forward', the latest series of events from Birmingham Future’s Infrastructure Committee will bring together leading experts to explore what the city might be like twenty years from now.

Neil Davidson (Urban Mind / J&L Gibbons) will discuss the current and future social infrastructure challenges and opportunities. This event explore the changing social nature of Birmingham in 2038, spanning leisure, housing, workforce and environment.

Urban Mind - Launch Event

Help us understand how city living is affecting mental health and wellbeing.

Date: 20th September, 2018

Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Location: Eastern Curve Garden, Dalston, 13 Dalston Lane, London E8 3DF

Please join us for the launch of Urban Mind, an international research project exploring how the urban environment influences mental health and wellbeing.

Over three-and-a-half billion people, more than half the world’s population, live in urban areas. This number is rising fast, and it is expected that 66% of the global population will live in cities by 2050. What are the implications of this increasing urbanisation for our mental health and wellbeing?

Urban Mind is a citizen-science project exploring the wider questions that surround urban planning, social policy, design and health, as well as historical and cultural perspectives on the city and the human mind.

The launch will see the research team and experts from the arts and sciences discuss the project from different perspectives. Guest speakers include Siobhan Davies (Artist/Choreographer), Daniel Raven-Ellison (Campaigner/Urban Geographer), Professor Gunter Schumann (Centre for Population Neuroscience & Stratified Medicine, King’s College London).

Urban Mind is a collaboration between arts foundation Nomad Projects, landscape architects J&L Gibbons and the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry & Neuroscience, King’s College London.

All welcome – book here!

'Arts in Mind Festival' - King's College London

Urban Mind – Arts in Mind Festival

Date: 5th June, 2018

Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Location: Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, Denmark Hill Campus, London.

The panellists include...

Matthew Beaumont, British novelist, author of ‘Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London’, Professor of English and Co-Director of the Urban Laboratory at UCL.

Johanna Gibbons, partner at J & L Gibbons, an award winning Landscape Architecture studio based in London.

Professor Andrea Mechelli, Professor of Early Intervention, King's College London.

Michael Smythe, Artist & Creative Director of Nomad Projects, a contemporary arts research and commissioning foundation.

This event is free but booking is essential.

Urban Mind published in BioScience

In January 2018 Urban Mind will be featured in BioScience, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Oxford University Press, on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

King’s College London, Landscape Architects J & L Gibbons and Nomad Projects have used smartphone-based technology to assess the relationship between exposure to nature and mental wellbeing.

We found that (i) being outdoors, seeing trees, hearing birdsong, seeing the sky, and feeling in contact with nature were associated with higher levels of mental wellbeing, and that (ii) the beneficial effects of nature were especially evident in those individuals with greater levels of impulsivity who are at greater risk of mental health issues.

The full article can be found here!

Urban Mind will launch a full-scale international study in March 2018. More details coming soon…

The Future Brain in the Future City

Date: 19th August, 2016

Time: 10:30am - 12:00pm

Location: The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

Today’s screen technologies create environments that could alter how we process information, take risks, empathise and view our identity. Technology can make us safer, smarter and sustainable, but the long-term impact on the human brain is unknown.

Join our panel including Professor Kevin Warwick, expert in Artificial Intelligence, cyborgs and robotics at Coventry University, Gary Walker, Future City Glasgow, Neil Davidson, landscape architect and co-investigator on Urban Mind project, Catharine Ward Thompson, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Director, OPENspace research centre, University of Edinburgh and Alessandro Vinciarelli, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at the School of Computing Science and Associate Academic of the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow to discuss how humans will adapt to a tech-laden world in 2050.

More information – here.