Patrik Grahn

Patrik Grahn
Professor in landscape architecture, Agr Dr in landscape architecture, landscape architect MSc, biologist MSc. Research in the interface between landscape architecture and environmental psychology, and how it can be applied in evidence-based health-promoting landscape architecture and nature-based therapy.


Started teaching in the subject "environmental psychology in landscape architecture" in 1992. In the early 2000s, a one-year master’s degree was developed. After a few years, this master's degree was extended to two years, to be in English and cover the entire area 'The importance of nature experiences and companion animals for human health and well-being'. The master program "Outdoor Environments for Health and Well-being - Master's Programme" is now run by researchers and teachers at several faculties within SLU.

Main new publications in teaching are as follows:

1.  Grahn, P.; Stoltz, J.; Skärbäck, E.; Bengtsson, A. (2023). Health-Promoting Nature-Based Paradigms in Urban Planning. Encyclopedia 3 (4), 1419-1438

2. Grahn, P.; Stoltz, J.; Bengtsson, A. (2022). The Alnarp Method: An interdisciplinary-based design of holistic healing gardens derived from research and development in Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden, pp. 299-317 in:  Routledge Handbook of Urban Landscape Research; K. Bishop, L. Corkery, (Eds.); Routledge: London, UK; New York, NY, USA.

3. Nilsson, K.; Grahn, P. (2024). The scientific evidence for nature’s positive influence on human health and well-being, pp 22-35 in: Green and healthy Nordic cities: How to plan, design, and manage health-promoting urban green space. L.A. Borges, L. Rohrer, K. Nilsson (Eds.); Nordregio: Stockholm. 

4. Bengtsson, A.; Åshage, A.; Andersson, M.; Dybkjaer, E.; Grahn, P. 2024. Improving green space design based on health design theory and environmental psychology, pp. 79-105 in: Green and healthy Nordic cities: How to plan, design, and manage health-promoting urban green space. L.A. Borges, L. Rohrer, K. Nilsson (Eds.) Nordregio, Stockholm. 

5. Borges, L.A.; Rohrer, L.; Aamodt, G.; Andersson, M.; Bengtsson, A.; Dybkjaer, E.; Grahn, P.; Kajosaari, A.; Kyttä, M.; Nilsson, K.; Nordbö, E.C.A.; Nordh, H.; Randrup, T.B.; Rossi, S.; Sunding, A.; Åshage, A. (2024). Methods, models, and guidelines for practitioners to deliver health-promoting green space, pp 106-153 in: Green and healthy Nordic cities: How to plan, design, and manage health-promoting urban green space. L.A. Borges, L. Rohrer, K. Nilsson (Eds.) Nordregio, Stockholm.

6. Mini Review: Stoltz, J.; Grahn, P. (2021). Perceived Sensory Dimensions: Key aesthetic qualities for health-promoting urban green spaces. Journal of Biomed Research 2, (1):22-29.

7. Mini Review: Grahn, P.; Palsdottir, A.M. (2021). Does More Time in a Therapeutic Garden Lead to a Faster Return to Work? A Prospective Cohort Study of Nature-Based Therapy, Exploring the Relationship between Dose and Response in the Rehabilitation of Long-Term Patients Suffering from Stress-Related Mental Illness. International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 9, (06):614 


My research began in the mid-1980s. Together with colleagues, mainly at SLU and Lund University, four theories have been developed at the interface of landscape architecture, environmental psychology, and health sciences/medicine.

1. The overarching theory is The Scope of Meaning Theory: The theory deals with how perceived relationships to properties in the physical environment can change meaning and significance depending on the person's physical and psychological condition. Scope of Meaning is defined as a function that supports the human internal working model, i.e. how people routinely relate to the demands of the environment and their own needs (Grahn, et al 2022).

2. The Calm and Connection Theory explains how perceived relationships to features in the physical and social environment can instill security, belonging, attachment and also promote healing (Grahn et al 2021).

3. The Supportive Environment Theory deals with people's need for supportive social, physical and cultural environments. The three types of supportive environments form a mutual context. The theory is above all useful in nature-based therapy, but can also be used in, for example, architecture, landscape architecture and nursing science. The supportive environments, which are perceived through situated embodied cognition, contribute to people's health and well-being (Grahn et al 2010; Grahn et al 2022).

4. Perceived Sensory Dimensions (PSDs). Research has shown that the perceived qualities in outdoor green areas can be divided into eight perceived sensory dimensions, PSDs. The eight PSDs contain different facets of how green areas can function as health-promoting (Grahn & Stigsdotter, 2010). A weighting of all studies, conducted in Sweden and internationally, shows how the eight PSDs are related to each other and how they are associated with, for example, the size of green areas (Stoltz & Grahn, 2021). The PSDs define a holistic spatial and structural scope of action, and can function as indicators of cultural ecosystem services.

In addition to the eight PSDs, there are Nature Archetypes (Ottosson & Grahn, 2021). Unlike the PSDs, these are symbolic, existential and momentary in nature, and also include movement, season, time of day, animals, etc. The nature archetypes contain movement perception as an essential part, which is linked to vitality (Bystöm et al 2022). They are suggested to be used in nature-based therapy and can also be used to give an extra dimension to the design of environments.

Evidence-based health design and planning: In recent years, research has focused on guidelines and strategies for the design and planning of health-promoting green spaces. It is about further developing knowledge about health-promoting qualities in green areas, such as how to increase perceived safety (Sezavar et al 2023), possibility of stress reduction, especially in dense cities (Hajibeigi et al 2023; Memari et al 2021; Stoltz et al 2016; Stigsdotter et al 2017a 2017b;) rehabilitation capacity (Palsdottir et al 2018), or generally about what increases people's preference for a park (Shayestefar et al 2022). The knowledge is used to develop strategies and guidelines for how to plan and design health-promoting green areas (Bengtsson & Grahn, 2014; Grahn & Stoltz, 2022; Grahn et al 2022).

Research on the health-promoting urban green structure: Epidemiologically oriented population studies show that access to green areas is an important factor for public health (Grahn & Stigsdotter 2003). The studies have been deepened with a focus on how access to the eight PSDs affects public health (Björk et al. 2008; de Jong et al. 2012; Weimann et al. 2017; Gefenaite et al 2023).

Research on the health-promoting design of places: Research projects have investigated the health-promoting importance of green areas in preschools (Grahn et al 1997; Mårtensson et al 2009), nursing homes (Ottosson & Grahn, 2005; 2006; Bengtsson et al 2015) and workplaces (Lottrup et al 2013).

From 2002, some of the research has been conducted at a special Living Lab; Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden, where the first participants were offered rehabilitation in the summer of 2002 (Grahn, et al 2022). The research has partly focused on examining the effect of nature-based interventions, partly on increasing knowledge of how interventions should be designed. The latter deals with both the content and design of environments and the content of therapy (Währborg et al 2014; Palsdottir et al 2014; Grahn et al 2017). A similar nature based therapy has been investigated in Gothenburg (Sahlin et al 2015) and Germany (Joschko et al 2023).

Forests for recreation and stress-reducing activities. Research projects focusing on how forests can be designed to function for recreation (Stigsdotter et al 2017a; 2017b); how forests can produce forest raw materials, such as timber, and at the same time can function for recreation (Nordström et al 2015; Stoltz et al 2016); and nature-based interventions in forests (Nordh et al 2009; Høegmark et al 2021).

Animal Assisted Therapy: In 2012, a project with care farming started in Skåne. Ten so-called NUR farms, half of them with horses, were procured by Region Skåne (Palsdottir et al 2015). The intention is to make longitudinal studies on how rehabilitation of stress-related ill health works with this type of care farming. In addition to this project, a number of other animal-assisted projects have been implemented. Horse-assisted therapy (Byström et al 2019; 2022; Palsdottir et al 2020) as well as Zoo-assisted intervention (Sahlin et al 2019).


Works with projects within the program for built environment. It is about developing indicators regarding the green structure of the built environment, in cities and their surroundings. The indicators are intended to be used for survey and analysis with the intention that the built environment can achieve Sweden's environmental quality goal "Good Built Environment" and Sweden's international commitments on urban and peri-urban environments.

Grahn P, Stoltz J. 2021. Urbana grönområden - indikatorer för hälsa och välbefinnande. Movium Fakta, SLU Alnarp

Grahn, P., Stoltz, J. (2022). Indikatorer för hälsopromoverande urbana grönområden: Kunskapssammanställning. Naturvårdsverket, Stockholm.

Publikationer i urval

Bengtsson, A.; Grahn, P. (2014). Outdoor environments in healthcare settings: A quality evaluation tool for use in designing healthcare gardens. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 13 (4): 878-891

Bengtsson, A.; Hägerhäll, C.; Englund, J.E.; Grahn, P. (2015). Outdoor environments at three nursing homes. Journal of Housing for the Elderly 29 (1-2), 53-76

Björk, J.; Albin, M.; Grahn, P.; Jacobsson, H.; Ardö, J.; Wadbro, J.; Östergren, P-O.; Skärbäck, E. (2008). Recreational values of the natural environment in relation to neighbourhood satisfaction, physical activity, obesity and wellbeing. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 62 (4): e2-e2

Byström, K.; Grahn, P.; Hägerhäll, C. (2019). Vitality from Experiences in Nature and Contact with Animals—A Way to Develop Joint Attention and Social Engagement in Children with Autism? International journal of environmental research and public health 16 (23), 4673

Byström, K., Wrangsjö, B., Grahn, P. (2022). COMSI®—A Form of Treatment That Offers an Opportunity to Play, Communicate and Become Socially Engaged through the Lens of Nature—A Single Case Study. International journal of environmental research and public health 19 (24), 16399

De Jong, K.; Albin, M.; Skärbäck, E.; Grahn, P.; Björk. J. (2012). Perceived green qualities were associated with neighborhood satisfaction, physical activity, and general health: Results from a cross-sectional study in suburban and rural Scania, southern Sweden. Health & Place 18 (6): 1374-138

Gefenaite, G., Mattisson, K., Grahn, P., Östergren, P.O., Björk, J. (2023). Scania outdoor environment database (ScOut): A data source to study health effects of perceived neighborhood characteristics. Environmental Research 218, 115008

Grahn, P., Stoltz, J., Bengtsson, A. (2022). The Alnarp Method: An Interdisciplinary-Based Design of Holistic Healing Gardens Derived From Research and Development in Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden, pp 299-317 in: Routledge Handbook of Urban Landscape Research. K Bishop, L Corkery (Eds). Routledge: London, New York.  

Grahn, P.; Mårtensson, F.; Lindblad, B.; Nilsson, P.; Ekman, A. (1997). Ute på dagis: hur använder barn daghemsgården? Utformningen av daghemsgården och dess betydelse för lek, motorik och koncentrationsförmåga. SLU Alnarp.

Grahn, P.; Ottosson, J.; Uvnäs Moberg, K. (2021). The oxytocinergic system as a mediator of anti-stress and instorative effects induced by nature. The Calm and Connection theory. Frontiers in Psychology 12, 2425

Grahn, P.; Pálsdóttir, A.M.; Ottosson, J.; Jonsdottir, I.H. (2017). Longer nature-based rehabilitation may contribute to a faster return to work in patients with reactions to severe stress and/or depression. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14 (11), 1310

Grahn, P.; Stigsdotter, U.A. (2003). Landscape planning and stress. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 2 (1): 1-18

Grahn, P.; Stigsdotter, U.K. (2010). The relation between perceived sensory dimensions of urban green space and stress restoration. Landscape and Urban Planning 94 (3-4): 264-27.

Grahn, P., Tenngart Ivarsson, C., Stigsdotter, U.K., and Bengtsson, I-L. (2010). Using affordances as a health promoting tool in a therapeutic garden, pp 116-154 in: Innovative Approaches to Researching Landscape and Health. C. Ward Thompson, P. Aspinal, S. Bell (Eds). Routledge: London.

Hajibeigi, P., Pazhouhanfar, M., Grahn, P., Nazif, H. (2023). Enhancing Citizens’ Perceived Restoration Potential of Green Facades through Specific Architectural Attributes. Buildings 13 (9), 2356

Høegmark, S.; Andersen, T.E.; Grahn, P.; Mejldal, A., Roessler, K.K. (2020). The wildman programme—rehabilitation and reconnection with nature for men with mental or physical health problems—a matched-control study. International journal of environmental research and public health 18 (21), 11465

Joschko, L., Palsdottir, A.M., Grahn, P., Hinse, M. (2023). Nature-Based Therapy in Individuals with Mental Health Disorders, with a Focus on Mental Well-Being and Connectedness to Nature. International journal of environmental research and public health 20 (3), 2167

Lottrup, L.; Grahn, P.; Stigsdotter, U.K. (2013). Workplace greenery and perceived level of stress: Benefits of access to a green outdoor environment at the workplace. Landscape and Urban Planning 110: 5-11

Memari, S., Pazhouhanfar, M., Grahn, P., (2021). Perceived sensory dimensions of green areas: An experimental study on stress recovery. Sustainability 13 (10), 5419

Mårtensson, F.; Boldemann, C.; Söderström, M.; Blennow, M.; Englund, J.E.; Grahn, P. (2009). Outdoor environmental assessment of attention promoting settings for preschool children. Health & Place 15 (4): 1149-1157            

Nordh, H., Grahn, P., Währborg, P. (2009). Meaningful activities in the forest, a way back from exhaustion and long-term sick leave. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 8 (3), 207-219

Nordström, E.M.; Dolling, A.; Skärbäck, E.; Stoltz, J.; Grahn, P.; Lundell, Y. (2015). Forests for wood production and stress recovery: trade-offs in long-term forest management planning. European Journal of Forest Research 134 (5), 755-767

Ottosson, J.; Grahn, P. (2005). A comparison of leisure time spent in a garden with leisure time spent indoors: On measures of restoration in residents in geriatric care. Landscape Research 30 (1): 23-55

Ottosson, J.; Grahn, P. (2006). Measures of restoration in geriatric care residences: the influence of nature on elderly people's power of concentration, blood pressure and pulse rate. Journal of Housing for the Elderly 19 (3-4): 227-256

Ottosson, J.; Grahn, P. (2021). Nature Archetypes – Concepts Related to Objects and Phenomena in Natural Environments. A Swedish Case. Frontiers in Psychology. 11: 612672

Pálsdóttir, A.M.; Gudmundsson, M.; Grahn, P. (2020). Equine-assisted intervention to improve perceived value of everyday occupations and quality of life in people with lifelong neurological disorders: A prospective controlled study. International journal of environmental research and public health 17 (7), 2431

Pálsdóttir, A.M.; Persson, D.; Persson, B.; Grahn, P. (2014). The journey of recovery and empowerment embraced by nature—Clients’ perspectives on nature-based rehabilitation in relation to the role of the natural environment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 11 (7): 7094-7115

Pálsdóttir, A.M.; Stigsdotter, U.K.; Persson, D.; Thorpert, P.; Grahn, P. (2018). The qualities of natural environments that support the rehabilitation process of individuals with stress-related mental disorder in nature-based rehabilitation. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 29:312–321

Pálsdóttir, A.M., Wissler, S.K., Nilsson, K., Petersson, I.F. and Grahn, P. (2015). Nature-based rehabilitation in peri-urban areas for people with stress-related illnesses – a controlled prospective study. Acta Horticulturae 1093, 31-35. 

Sahlin, E., Ahlborg Jr, G., Tenenbaum, A., Grahn, P. (2015). Using nature-based rehabilitation to restart a stalled process of rehabilitation in individuals with stress-related mental illness. International journal of environmental research and public health 12 (2): 1928-1951

Sahlin, E.; Johansson, B.; Karlsson, P.O.; Loberg, J.; Niklasson, M.; Grahn, P. (2019). Improved Wellbeing for Both Caretakers and Users from A Zoo-Related Nature Based Intervention—A Study at Nordens Ark Zoo, Sweden. International journal of environmental research and public health 16 (24), 4929

Sezavar, N., Pazhouhanfar, M., Van Dongen, R.P., Grahn, P. (2023). The importance of designing the spatial distribution and density of vegetation in urban parks for increased experience of safety. Journal of Cleaner Production 403, 136768

Shayestefar, M., Pazhouhanfar, M., van Oel, C., Grahn, P. (2022). Exploring the Influence of the Visual Attributes of Kaplan’s Preference Matrix in the Assessment of Urban Parks: A Discrete Choice Analysis. Sustainability 14 (12), 7357

Stigsdotter, U.K.; Corazon, S.S.; Sidenius, U.; Kristiansen, J.; Grahn, P. (2017a). It is not all bad for the grey city–A crossover study on physiological and psychological restoration in a forest and an urban environment. Health & Place 46, 145-154

Stigsdotter, U.K.; Corazon, S.S.; Sidenius, U.; Refshauge, A.D.; Grahn, P. (2017b). Forest design for mental health promotion—Using perceived sensory dimensions to elicit restorative responses. Landscape and Urban Planning 160, 1-15

Stoltz, J.; Grahn, P. (2021). Perceived Sensory Dimensions: An Evidence-based Approach to Greenspace Aesthetics. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 126989       

Stoltz, J.; Lundell, Y.; Skärbäck, E.; van den Bosch, M.A.; Grahn, P.; Nordström, E-M.; Dolling, A. (2016). Planning for restorative forests: describing stress-reducing qualities of forest stands. European Journal of Forest Research 135 (5), 803-813    

Weimann, H.; Rylander, L.; van den Bosch, M.A.; Albin, M.; Skärbäck, E.; Grahn, P.; Björk, J. (2017). Perception of safety is a prerequisite for the association between neighbourhood green qualities and physical activity: Results from a cross-sectional study in Sweden. Health & Place 45: 124-130

Währborg, P.; Petersson, I.F.; Grahn, P. (2014). Nature-assisted rehabilitation for reactions to severe stress and/or depression in a rehabilitation garden: Long-term follow-up including comparisons with a matched population cohort. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 46 (3), 271-276


I am currently working on the following projects:

1. How to design dementia-friendly outdoor areas in cities? Formas project. The project will end in the summer of 2025. Collaborators in the project are PhD student Nina Oher, Anna Bengtsson and Patrik Grahn.

2. BioESSHealth  - Financing: EU/Biodiversa and Formas. The project will end in 2024. Collaborators in our department's part of project are Jonathan Stoltz, Mats Gyllin and Patrik Grahn. Link:

3. Sustainable living outdoor environments  -  Financing: Formas. The project will end in 2024. Collaborators in our department's part of the project are Jonathan Stoltz and Patrik Grahn. Link:

4. NORDGREEN - Smart Planning for Healthy and Green Nordic Cities. Financing: Nordforsk. The project will end in 2024. Collaborators in our department's part of the project are Anna Bengtsson, Anna Åshage and Patrik Grahn. Link:

5. ERiCi: Existential resilience. A thematic collaboration initiative at Lund University . The project will end in December 2025. Collaborators in our department's part of the project are Jonathan Stoltz and Patrik Grahn. Link: 

6. De-stressing outdoor environmental qualities in work areas for increased well-being, cooperation and productivity. Financing: Vinnova. The project has ended. Collaborators in our department's part of the project are Anna Bengtsson, Jonathan Stoltz and Patrik Grahn. Link:

7. Estimating the Role of Exposure and Access to Natural Environments for Wellbeing, Mental & Cognitive Health. Financing, Formas. The project will end in December 2024. Collaborators in our department's part of the project are Jonathan Stoltz and Patrik Grahn.

8. Method development of indicators for monitoring environmental quality goals regarding urban green areas and people's health and well-being. FOMA Bebyggd miljö. The project will end in December 2024. Collaborators are Jonathan Stoltz and Patrik Grahn.

Links to my publications:




Professor vid Institutionen för människa och samhälle
Telefon: +4640415425, +46702585512
Box 190
234 22 Lomma
Besöksadress: Slottsvägen 5, Alnarp