Exploring tranquillity experienced in landscapes based on social media

Flurina M. Wartmann*, Koen F. Tieskens, Boris T. van Zanten, Peter H. Verburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


People living in increasingly urbanised areas are seeking restorative environments for recreation. Consequently, the need arises to identify and map such tranquil spaces. However, collecting in situ data across large areas about where people experience tranquillity is usually cost-prohibitive. In this study, we use social media data from the photosharing platform Flickr to explore the experience of tranquillity in Scotland. We developed a novel methodology that combines the metadata of photographs (location and textual tags) and the content of photographs to explore where tranquillity is experienced within the landscape, and which factors influence tranquillity. Mapping locations of photographs with tags related to tranquillity reveals areas of experienced tranquillity across Scotland that are relatively easily accessible by road, for example along the West Coast, as well as near inland water bodies. Users also uploaded tranquil photographs in urban areas, but less than expected compared to the density of general Flickr uploads in these areas. Based on the content of photographs, the presence of water bodies, boats and special atmospheric conditions (e.g. sunset) were identified as significant factors influencing experienced tranquillity. Furthermore, we found no relation between potential quiet areas and the locations where people uploaded photographs with tranquil tags. This study highlights the potential of a hybrid approach to social media data analysis for exploring people's place-based experiences. By focusing on where people experience tranquillity in the landscape, our results are complementary to existing approaches modelling the potential for tranquillity and have important implications for how we conceptualise and model tranquillity as experienced by people.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102112
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Geography
Early online date15 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

This work was financially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation [grant no. 171911] and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme [grant agreement no. 689,812] (‘LandSense’).


  • Flickr
  • Geotagged social media photographs
  • Quietness
  • Restorative environments
  • Tranquillity mapping
  • User-generated content


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