What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “hospital”? A lush, sun-dappled garden buzzing with hummingbirds, or a cold, institutional interior? For those of us who thought of the latter, the therapeutic landscapingmovement is aiming for a change—and it’s finding more and more synergies with medical science, sustainable design, and the budgetary realities of the healthcare industry.
What makes a garden “therapeutic”?
Both controlled experiments and observational studies have proven that access to nature can relieve stress and pain and speed recovery (see “Biophilia in Practice,” EBN July 2006). Even a landscape painting or a view out a window can contribute to well-being and measurably improve outcomes—but newer experiments show that healing and biophilia are much more strongly correlated when patients inhabit natural outdoor spaces, leading designers to look increasingly to “healing gardens.” As healing gardens become more popular and hospitals begin marketing them as amenities, there is an important distinction to be made between conventional landscaping and a therapeutic garden, explains Robin Guenther, FAIA, sustainable healthcare design leader at Perkins+Will…
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