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VirtuLab - research on virtual nature

VirtuLab is a virtual nature space located in Viikki, Helsinki, which allows the natural environment to be brought indoors using high-quality audiovisual means. The space allows you to experience nature when it is not easily accessible. The transformative space can be used for interdisciplinary environmental research.

Photo: Noora Moilanen

The health benefits of nature indoors

Studies have shown that virtual nature has very similar effects to real nature visits. A study published in December 2022 found that breaks in virtual nature reduced negative emotions and anxiety in computer workers and increased parasympathetic nervous system activity, which indicates relaxation.

”Designing natural spaces is a new way to create restorative environments in offices or even as part of everyday life in educational institutions, hospitals and care homes. They can bring the feel of the forest and the effects of well-being to where people are," says Professor Liisa Tyrväinen.


High-quality audiovisual images and soundscapes

VirtuLab is a unique and adaptable space that can be used for multidisciplinary environmental research. It has been designed in collaboration with experts in research, audiovisual technologies, construction and interior design.

VirtuLab includes:

  • An immersive 360 space, where the viewer is surrounded by 8k ultra high definition video and natural soundscapes.
  • A smaller exploration space where you can immerse yourself in virtual nature using VR glasses.
  • A single, larger space for meetings or teaching, for example.
Photo: Tuomas Kari

Extensive research opportunities

VirtuLab explores the potential of virtual nature, including the impact of virtual environments, technological solutions and different types of content. VirtuLab is also suitable for studying the acceptability of environmental change and resource use and the welfare effects of virtual nature. Future opportunities include gamification of nature experiences and exploring new digital nature solutions.