Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World

June 2nd, 2015

Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World

Wait. Take a deep breath. Before you throw your hands up in hopeless despair that the world is coming to a quick and ugly end, I have a book for you to read. Jared Green, author of Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World (Princeton Architectural Press) asked 80 global leaders who shape our built environment (architects, urban planners, landscape architects, journalists, artists, and environmental leaders) the question, “What gives you hope that a sustainable future is possible?” Each one-page answer, illustrated with an image on the opposite page, is thought-provoking, informative, and inspiring.

In the introduction, Green says his book “represents the collective wisdom of a hive mind.” And it really does. With my particular interest in landscapes for health and healthcare, I especially enjoyed John Cary’s “Butaro Hospital” and Tim Beatley’s “Koo Teck Puat Hospital.” (Full disclosure, I also have an excerpt in the book, about Central Park as an ideal example of “nearby nature”). While all of the essays resonated with me in one way or another, a few stand out: Janine Benyus’ “Termite Mounds,” Jeff Stein’s “City Repair,” John Peterson’s “Holding Pattern,” Janet Echelman’s “Park(ing) Day,” and J. Meejin Yoon’s “The Lightning Field.”

Designed for the FutureGreen tell us that “We can’t give up yet.” He also says,

And reading through all the answers, I thought again that hope is perhaps the most valuable currency we have, as it motivates all our actions–from creating a world-changing new technology to preserving a beloved old building or town or square to protecting a threatened community or ecosystem. We have the answers.

The book is a really good read, and designers will appreciate it for the aesthetics as well–not what you’d usually think of for the beach, but pack it along, you won’t be disappointed.

 

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Labyrinths for Healthcare: Approach with Caution

May 29th, 2015
Labyrinth at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital. Photo by Clare Cooper Marcus

St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, Santa Rosa, CA. This labyrinth is appropriate for a healthcare setting since the walking route is relatively short (7-circuit); there are no overlooking windows, and vegetative screening ensures privacy; it is shaded; and a simple explanatory sign explains its use. Photo by Clare Cooper Marcus

This post might invite more invective or controversy than usual (which is usually none, so we’ll see), but it’s something important to discuss: Labyrinths are not always appropriate for healthcare gardens. When they are used, they need to be sited and designed to best benefit garden users. Clare Cooper Marcus and I discuss this issue in our book Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces and some of the text below is excerpted from Chapter 6 (p. 78).

Please understand: I have nothing against labyrinths per se. In fact, in the right place and context, I think they are wonderful and I very much enjoy walking them. The TLN has a page on labyrinths. In our chapter on Gardens for Veterans and Active Duty Personnel, we discuss how labyrinths are used in the therapeutic process (p. 210-211).

First, what is a labyrinth?
The classical labyrinth consists of a continuous path that winds in circles into a center and out again. This basic form dates from antiquity and is intended for contemplative walking. A labyrinth is sometimes erroneously referred to as a maze, which consists of a complex system of pathways between tall hedges, with the purpose of getting people lost. The aim of a maze is playful diversion, whereas the aim of the labyrinth was, and is, to offer the user a walking path of quiet reflection. See this earlier TLN Blog post for more on the distinction between labyrinths and mazes.

Metropolitan State University Library’s Labyrinth Garden.

Metropolitan State University Library’s Labyrinth Garden

The labyrinth trend
L
abyrinths have become increasingly popular in healthcare settings (hospitals, outpatient clinics, hospices, elder care facilities, etc.). Designers often include them in their plans, sometimes encouraged by the client or the funding donor.

I’m not sure what led to this trend, but here are some guesses:

1. Labyrinths are immediately recognizable as contemplative spaces that encourage silent walking and meditation. Like “Zen gardens,” they symbolize peace and relaxation.

2. They are usually easy to install and, unlike planting beds, require very little maintenance. However, most labyrinths are paved and according to many research studies, people prefer less paving and more plants in healing gardens. So, hmmmmm….

Here is why labyrinths are often not the right choice for healthcare gardens:

1. They take up a lot of space. Space that could be used for plants or a covered gathering area or a more flexible activity space. Because people view labyrinths as somewhat sacred, they are reluctant to walk across them to get from Point A to Point B. Unless the garden is quite large, a labyrinth is probably not the best use of space.

2. Labyrinths are usually not sheltered (by trees or another shade structure). People in hospitals – especially patients – are extremely vulnerable to sun and glare.

3. They take a long time to walk, which may not be good or even possible for some patients. See guidelines, below.

4. They are usually not wheelchair accessible. So people who have limited mobility (anyone in a wheelchair, scooter, walker, or even with a large stroller) can’t use them. Which, especially in a hospital environment, is rather sad.

Labyrinth at Burford Priory, courtesy of St. James's Piccadilly

Labyrinth at Burford Priory, courtesy of St. James’s Piccadilly

Design guidelines
If you do plan to include a labyrinth in a healthcare garden, consider the following design guidelines from Therapeutic Landscapes:

1. The classical labyrinth consists of 11, 7, or 5 concentric circles. The path of the 11-circuit labyrinth is 860 feet long and thus should not be considered for a healthcare garden. Walking that far would likely tax the energy of patients or the time of visitors or staff. The 7- or 5-circuit labyrinth is more appropriate, both in terms of the length of the path and in terms of the space it claims.

2. People walking a labyrinth are in a contemplative, introspective mood and do not want to be stared at. Site the labyrinth in a secluded location out of sight of other garden users and nearby windows.

3. Since some people view the process of walking a labyrinth to be a spiritual experience, site it where others will not be forced to walk across to get from one destination to another.

4. Since many people may be unfamiliar with the purpose of a labyrinth, provide information nearby indicating how to walk the path.

5. Consider a “finger labyrinth” – they take up far less room and can still provide people with a meditative practice.

Finger labyrinth at the American Psychological Association. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Finger labyrinth at the American Psychological Association. Photo by Naomi Sachs

I’d love to hear your comments, and would also love to hear about examples of labyrinths in healthcare gardens that are really appropriate for the place and the people.

Some of the text for this post was excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces by Clare Cooper Marcus and Naomi A. Sachs. Copyright 2014.

 

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Happy Earth Day!

April 22nd, 2015
From http://happydayquote.com/earth-day-quotes-tumblr/

From http://happydayquote.com/earth-day-quotes-tumblr/

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The Chicago Botanic Garden Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program – Register now!

April 11th, 2015
One of the many beautiful flowers seen last year during the CBG Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program

One of the many beautiful flowers seen last year during the CBG Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program

Registration is now open for the Chicago Botanic Garden Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program, and for the seminar, “Gardens That Heal: A Prescription for Wellness.”

Eight-day professional development certificate
May 13 – 20, 2015

Gardens That Heal: A Prescription for Wellness
One-Day Seminar
May 13, 2014
Wednesday
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Online registration is unavailable 24 hours prior to the class start date. You may still register by calling (847) 835-8261.

The eight-day Certificate Program includes case studies, group projects, field trips, lectures, and instruction from experts from healthcare garden-related professions. Working in multidisciplinary teams that reflect the real world of healthcare garden design, your learning will be reinforced through tours of healthcare facilities in greater Chicago.

The program begins with a special full-day seminar on “Gardens That Heal: A Prescription for Wellness,” designed as a starting point for those participating in the full program, and as an introduction for professionals not requiring full certification.

The tulips, at the end of their bloom, were still stunning.

The tulips, at the end of their bloom, were still stunning.

Program overview
Healthcare garden design is an emerging area of specialization in which several professions converge to create environments of care. In this professional development program, attendees will discover the many ways gardens provide verifiable health benefits for their patients, staff, and visitors. The multidisciplinary program introduces the latest research in healthcare garden design, demonstrating the benefits of healthcare gardens while providing participants with the expertise, knowledge, and tools to effectively design, manage, and evaluate such gardens. These garden environments of care maximize the effectiveness of clinical treatments for illness and disabilities, and create passive garden experiences that significantly reduce staff stress and absenteeism, improve patient health, increase client satisfaction, and strengthen the bottom line.

Who should participate?
Landscape architects, garden designers, architects, and interior designers; healthcare executives, program administrators, development and marketing directors, and consultants; nurses, therapists, extended care providers, and activity and recreation directors; graduate students in related fields.

Specific Content Elements

  • Types of healthcare gardens and their defining characteristics
  • Research, evidence-based design, and post-occupancy evaluation
  • Passive and active garden experiences for positive health outcomes
  • Characteristics of user groups (patients, family, visitors, and staff) and how they benefit
  • How to reduce staff stress and increase satisfaction, retention, and recruitment
  • Universal design, ADA, barrier-free design, regulations, codes, and specifications
  • Integration of gardens into new and existing healthcare campus landscapes
  • Connection of outdoor gardens to indoor spaces and therapeutic activities
  • Plant selection and use, equipment, materials, safety, security, and privacy
  • Construction and maintenance of new projects; performing renovations and redirecting uses of indoor and outdoor spaces, including rooftops
  • How to build winning healthcare garden design teams
  • How to succeed in the client-centered marketplace
  • Marketing, project proposals, and management; funding and resources

Visit the website for more information, including the list of stellar instructors.

Here are just a few of the many great comments the course has received over the years:

“This course renewed my spirit! Content was incredible. No repetition. Each speaker was valuable.”

“Exceeded my expectations. Excellent management. Excellent location. Excellent instruction.”

“This program reminded me of my zeal for designing…”

And the hops was making its way up the trellis...

And the hops was making its way up the trellis…

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(Almost) Wordless Wednesday – March 4, 2015

March 4th, 2015
Chicksaw plum (Prunus angustifolia). Photo by Naomi Sachs

Chicksaw plum (Prunus angustifolia). Photo by Naomi Sachs

In Central Texas, things are already blooming, including the Chicksaw plum. The scent is gorgeous – sweet and a little bit spicy. I can always tell when I’m about to see one of these shrubby trees (tree-e shrubs?) in blossom because I smell it first.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' blooming in January. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ blooming in January. Photo by Naomi Sachs

If you are in colder climates and are feeling frozenly jealous right now, stop! Once spring comes, go out and get a witch hazel; you will not be disappointed, especially when she blooms – a fragrance that is also quite spicy – in the darkest days of winter. My favorite type is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ (which in my NY garden usually bloomed in late December and kept on going for over a month) but there are many to choose from. Amazing fall foliage, too. If you want a winter blooming witch hazel, make sure you get one; Hamamelis virginica and some others bloom in the late fall. Or if you’re a plantaholic like me, ignore the fact that there’s no room in your garden for both…and then get both.

 

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