Founded By: POR FSE 2014-2020

Start date: 19 Sep. 2018          End date: 20 Oct. 2019

Grant: € 118.136,00

Partners: Department of Biology (University of Padova), Human Inspired Technology (HIT) Research Centre (University of Padova), Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry (University of Padova), Botanical Garden of Padova (University of Padova), WBA Project Srl, WBA Onlus, Uqido Srl, PAN Srl, GTF Onlus

HTLab Involved People: Alice Bettelli, Rosa Buson, Luciano Gamberini

The project “This is (not just) a tree” aims to provide a virtual reality (VR) experience that allows visitors to a naturalistic site to connect with the plant and animal world through engaging and immersive narrative paths never before experienced. The hosting site of the project is the Botanical Garden of Padua, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
HTLab adopted a co-design approach, involving various stakeholders from the early stages of the project. Academic experts from different disciplines (HCI, VR design, zoology and biodiversity, arboriculture) and personnel from the Botanical Garden of Padua participated in affinity diagrams and brainstorming sessions to define expectations and requirements related to the experience. In addition, visitors of the Botanical Garden (adults and children) were involved through an on-site survey to investigate design needs and preferences. Based on the results obtained, HTLab collaborated with experts in zoology, biodiversity, and arboriculture to collect educational content in the laboratory and in the field, defined digital storytelling, and developed the virtual reality prototype.

Finally, end users tested the prototype to evaluate usability and user experience aspects.
The result is an immersive and interactive VR experience that takes the user on a journey to discover a tree and its ecosystem. Moving in 360-degree space, it is possible to explore the aboveground, underground, and internal morphology of the tree, immerse oneself in macroscopic and microscopic environments, and encounter plant and animal species that are difficult for humans to access in the real world. The proposed experience enriches the traditional visit to the Botanical Garden and enhances the natural heritage, offering an engaging, fun, and educational experience that can also be enjoyed in other contexts, such as in educational field.


Bettelli, A., Orso, V., Pluchino, P., & Gamberini, L. (2019, September). An enriched visit to the botanical garden: Co-designing tools and contents. In Proceedings of the 13th Biannual Conference of the Italian SIGCHI Chapter: Designing the next interaction (pp. 1-5).

Bettelli, A., Buson, R., Orso, V., Benvegnú, G., Pluchino, P., & Gamberini, L. (2020). Using virtual reality to enrich the visit at the botanical garden. ANNUAL REVIEW OF CYBERTHERAPY AND TELEMEDICINE 2020, 57.


Best FSE Project in Creative Industries at the “Award Ceremony Best FSE Project” (November 6, 2019, Orto Botanico di Padova)

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