Nature, Healing, and Creativity

by Siyi He, Associate ASLA

The 2018 ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN Meeting
The 2018 ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN Meeting / image: Siyi He

Therapeutic Landscape Design Practice in the United States and Overseas: A Recap of the 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting’s Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN Meeting

Landscape architects and designers know that nature has powerful potential to heal people’s bodies, minds, and spirits. Therapeutic garden design in healthcare facilities is creating functional spaces where people can access the healing power of nature in hospitals. The 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting’s Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) Meeting was held in Philadelphia on October 20 to discuss the topic of nature, healing, and creativity in healing garden design. The meeting was hosted by PPN Co-Chair Siyi He, Associate ASLA, and began with a description of PPN’s mission and the introduction of two invited landscape architect speakers, Geoff Anderson, ASLA, and Adam E. Anderson, ASLA. PPN Officer and Past Co-Chair Melody Tapia, Student ASLA, made the closing statement for the meeting. Melody and Siyi enthusiastically introduced the PPN leadership team and encouraged attendees to join our PPN. (Four of the attendees signed up for the leadership team right there! All ASLA members are welcome to get involved.)

The panelists, along with 40 attendees, discussed landscape design and features in healing gardens and the different restrictions for therapeutic design in the United States and overseas.

Our panelists were:

Geoff Anderson and Adam E. Anderson answer questions / image: Siyi He

With years of practice in therapeutic garden design for hospitals, Geoff Anderson, RLA, introduced two completed healing landscape projects he designed. The first is the Christiana Care Health System – Wilmington Hospital Atrium & Healing Courtyard. The 13,400-square-foot healing courtyard improves the views from surrounding patient rooms, and provides a new outdoor garden for patients, staff, and family members. The atrium connects the hospital addition and café to a new courtyard, and there is also a new interior healing garden. There are water features in both the atrium interior garden and the outdoor courtyard healing garden.

Illustrative plan for atrium and healing garden / image: Geoff Anderson
Constructing the interior garden in the atrium / image: Geoff Anderson
Interior garden with water feature / image: Geoff Anderson
Constructing the healing courtyard garden / image: Geoff Anderson
Healing courtyard garden / image: Geoff Anderson
Patients and staff use the healing courtyard garden / image: Geoff Anderson

The second project Geoff shared is the second-floor roof healing garden at the Nemours / Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. The garden creates new healing space for patients who, due to restricted mobility or other health issues, have limited outdoor access. Each patient room has a view of the garden, accentuating its healing effect. Natural light and other natural elements, such as water, improve healing for patients and staff. Geoff shared a touching story about a patient in that hospital, a child who loved the garden, especially the fountain. He could not go to the garden or play with the water because of his sickness, but it was healing for him to watch the garden through his window.

Roof Terrace Healing Garden plan / image: Geoff Anderson
Constructing the Roof Healing Garden / image: Geoff Anderson
Seating area of the Roof Healing Garden / image: Geoff Anderson
Fountain in the Roof Healing Garden / image: Geoff Anderson

Adam E. Anderson is a registered landscape architect who runs the landscape architecture department at Payette Architects. His projects vary in scale and include hospital healing gardens and commissioned public artworks. He introduced two projects: Beth Israel Deaconess Healing Garden in Boston and the 43-acre site of 5th Xiangya Hospital in China. Comparing healing garden design in hospitals reveals many differences between the U.S. and China.

Plant concept diagram for Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Healing Garden / image: Adam E. Anderson
Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Healing Garden plan / image: Adam E. Anderson
Bird’s-eye view of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Healing Garden / image: Adam E. Anderson
Selected plants for Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Healing Garden / image: Adam E. Anderson
Selected plants for Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Healing Garden / image: Adam E. Anderson

The 5th Xiangya Hospital in China has a huge volume of patients, visitors, and clinical staff. The healing garden is large. Confined by fewer legal restrictions than healing gardens in the U.S., the 5th Xiangya Hospital healing garden features plant terraces with multiple water features to enhance healing. Rooted in Chinese traditional culture, the healing garden designers also collaborated with a Fengshui master on the garden’s conceptual design and layout. They believe Fengshui could affect the healing process, especially in hospitals.

Fengshui conceptual diagram for Xiangya Hospital Healing Garden / image: Adam E. Anderson
The 5th Xiangya Hospital Healing Garden plan / image: Adam E. Anderson
Perspective drawing for the 5th Xiangya Hospital Healing Garden plan / image: Adam E. Anderson

Siyi He, Associate ASLA, is Chair of the ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN).

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