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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Evaluation of the effect of landscape distance seen in window views on visual satisfaction


Daylighting standards dictate that the view seen through a window can be evaluated using several criteria. Among one of them is the distance at which the visual content can be seen. However, not enough guidance is given on how this criterion can be applied in practice. We used two approaches to address this problem: online surveys and human subject assessment in a controlled experiment using an artificial window. Images were used in both cases to represent window views. Two independent groups of participants took part in either study and both gave subjective satisfaction ratings to three parameters, namely, connection to the outside, visual content and visual privacy. Eighteen images were evaluated in the online surveys by a total of 91 participants while eight images were rated by 50 participants that took part in the controlled experiment. We developed a calculation method, named the Observer Landscape Distance (OLD), to quantify the distance of the window view landscape from the occupant. Our initial results showed that people are more satisfied when features are far away. However, we also showed that when the landscape contained nature, the effect of distance was smaller. If far away views cannot be provided due to site constrains, nature (e.g. trees) should be integrated nearby to increase satisfaction. Current daylighting standards promote distant views regardless of its visual content (nature or urban). We found that visual content matters and occupants prefer urban features to be viewed from a distance, whereas this same recommendation does not apply for nature.

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