Creating urban calm and resilience via habit change
20 May 2019 - Impact Hub London

This week we’re continuing to focus on Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals, Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Cities are growing rapidly. With a rise in both population and migration, it is inevitable that the systems that we have used in the past may not work in the future. To ensure that our cities and the people that live within them are able to maintain their resilience we need to start thinking differently about the spaces around us and the resources that we consume. One such enterprise that is doing this already is Tranquil City.


Tranquil City asks:

  • How can tranquillity exist in the city?
  • What helps evoke this feeling?
  • How can embracing this make our lives better, healthier and enable us to be more conscious about our environment when it comes to living in big cities?


Here’s what they had to say about what they do and how it is increasing the wellbeing, consciousness and resilience of people living in cities.


We set Tranquil City up back in 2016, initially to explore people’s perceptions of tranquillity in London via social media posts. However, it’s grown significantly since then. We’ve now created a responsive map called the Tranquil Pavement London  that allows people to see easy-to-understand information on areas of the city that are relatively low on noise and air pollution, as well as the user-generated pockets of tranquillity.


When people share their tranquil space or perspective to the map, they’re listing it there for others to find and enjoy, but they’re also showing the space’s inherent social value which says, ‘I use and value that space’.


By gathering this user-generated information we are able to demonstrate that these spaces are valued by the public, and this is important. A lot of these areas are subject to threat of development or lack of maintenance funding. We are therefore developing methods to use this data to help protect, enhance and create new tranquil spaces in large cities.



Additionally, when looking at these shared spaces from a more scientific and psychological perspective, we can demonstrate the benefits they provide in terms of improved environmental quality. This is especially true when they are compared to more typical urban environments in the city.


We have shown through our work that areas deemed ‘tranquil’ are exposed to less noise, less air pollution and are significantly higher in percentage of natural features, which can provide relief from stress and anxiety. This information can help demonstrate more effectively, why we should be protecting and nurturing these spaces within the city itself, making them available to everyone, and not just leaving them outside the city for those able to escape the city from time to time.


A key element to our work is how tranquillity can be embraced every day in order to promote healthier lives.


Simply put, spending time in tranquil spaces can be healthier than spending time in more typical urban spaces, as described above. However, we’ve working on how the concept of travelling via tranquillity could be helpful to reducing people’s exposure to noise and pollution, increasing exposure to natural features and as a result promoting walking and cycling in the city.


Our work demonstrates that by prioritising the experience of tranquillity in a journey from an A to B, we can reduce exposure to pollution by 50% (average between noise and pollution) and increase the appeal to ‘walk and cycle’, ’stop and sit down’ and notice our surroundings, such as hearing birdsong, children playing, seeing wildlife and experiencing a sense of beauty. We believe that by celebrating routes that are more positive, calmer and better for us, we are more inclined to choose them over more negative and comfortable methods of transport such as individual car travel.”


And if you’re a city dweller looking for advice on how to input more tranquillity into your life, here’s what Tranquil City would advise:


Visit a nearby tranquil space once a day for 15mins. This doesn’t have to be a large park or involve lots of walking. Try to check in with yourself about how you’re feeling, how the space is making you feel and contemplate your day. Check out our Tranquil Pavement London map to find one near your location.


Travel via tranquil spaces on your way to the office/impact hub. This could involve getting of a stop or two earlier on the bus or tube, and allowing yourself a bit of time to find your way avoiding the main roads, passing through any tagged tranquil spaces (find them on the Tranquil Pavement London) and notice your surroundings. Alternatively, if you’re a cyclist, use the Tranquil Pavement London to avoid the heavily polluted roads (the white dots) and work out a route that can avoid noise and pollution significantly.


And finally, join us on one of our free monthly tranquil events to discover an area of London you normally wouldn’t have and meet some like-minded people. This month (11th May) we’re exploring Thamesmead, south east London. Sign up for free here: