Therapeutic Garden Design in Chile

by Kat Shiffler, Student ASLA

Watercolor sketch of a hospital's therapeutic garden
The Jacarandá Garden at San Borja Arriarán, a public hospital in Santiago. / image: Kat Shiffler

I was drawn to landscape architecture out of a specific desire to create healthcare environments that help people heal. As I finish my second year of graduate school at the University of Michigan, I find myself working from an improvised home office instead of the design studio. My desk looks out upon a modest park, where I see record numbers of people walking, running, and sitting—absorbing the benefits of urban greenspace in these anxious times. Today, the universal importance of therapeutic design is thrown into high relief as the whole world is transformed into one big waiting room.

In December, I traveled to Chile to check out some inspirational healthcare gardens and meet with staff from Fundación Cosmos, a Santiago-based NGO that focuses on the ecological and socially sustainable development of parks. I interviewed the foundation’s principals on their work, philosophy, and the state of the landscape architecture profession in Chile, and am sharing the conversation, with my translation into English, here on The Field.

What inspires you to do this work?

We are inspired to live in harmony with the environment, conscious of our interdependence with all living beings and our responsibility for the protection of ecological integrity which sustains life on earth. This is our vision as a foundation.

Continue reading