Scientists from the ‘Eye Tracking Collective.landscape architecture’ at the Osnabrueck University of Applied Sciences in Germany are working with the National Trust’s Stourhead in Wiltshire to study how visitors to the world-famous garden interact with the landscape around them.
400,000 people visit Stourhead and the 18th-century gardens every year. Last week from the 20 – 25 September, visitors were offered the chance to participate in an experiment to help better understand their experience at Stourhead by wearing specially designed glasses that track eye movement.
The results will show the researchers and the National Trust team what parts of the garden attracts the most attention and how people perceive the space around them as they progress through the garden.
Leanne Clements, Visitor and Volunteer Experience Manager, said: “We’re really excited to be the first landscape garden in Britain to trial this technology.”
Professor Dirk Junker and his research team are using mobile Eye Tracking in real and unaffected environments to gain their results. With this technique, it is possible for the first time to document the uninfluenced behaviours and visual exploration of visitors in parks and gardens.
Christian Nollen, a member of the research team said: “The visit to Stourhead is another important step in the funded research project named ‘Point de Vue’ which seeks to investigate the visitor behaviour in promenade gardens using mobile Eye Tracking.”
The experiment was conducted at Stourhead due to the garden being internationally renowned and is the second location in the ‘Point de Vue’ project with the first having taken place in Hannover earlier this year. This project by the Eye Tracking Collective.landscape architecture is funded by the Sievert Foundation in Germany.
Emily Utgren a member of the Stourhead garden team said, “The garden was designed to have hidden vistas which were introduced to move and inspire visitors to continue on their journey and discover the genius of the place.”
She continues, “We have a good idea from visitors’ feedback which parts of the garden they most enjoy, but this will give us a detailed picture of how visitors interact with the garden subconsciously. It will give us vital information enabling us to focus our work on preserving the landscape garden so visitors can continue to enjoy the garden that Henry the Magnificent first designed.”
For more information, please phone Stourhead’s Estate Office on 01747 841152 or visit the website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead