Translating Therapeutic Garden Research to Healing Landscape Design
A special project of the ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN, funded by a PPN Initiatives grant from ASLA.
The connection between landscapes and healthcare has been steadily gaining in validity and acceptance throughout both the design and medical communities. Landscape architects have called for a more rigorous connection between research related to therapeutic garden benefits and the application of this research to the planning and design of therapeutic landscapes. The TLRI is a resource base and forum for review that is vital to the continuing integration of the research–design connections for a range of healing environments.
Landscape architects have been creating a range of therapeutic landscapes that engage users and facilitate the healing process in a number of ways. These projects have myriad benefits, the majority of which have not been studied at all. Some projects have been studied using qualitative methodologies including interviews, user surveys, and post-occupancy evaluations. This research is a vital component in the overall research spectrum, and is very useful for increasing our general understanding as designers and for fundraising purposes. While more broadly useful in determine design strategies, qualitative research is less widely accepted in the medical research community.
The overall body of therapeutic landscape research can be more widely accepted in the medical community with the addition of studies which have been conducted using more quantitative scientific methods. While gaining credibility in providing verification of evidence-based design strategies, this research is, due to the limits of quantitative methods, more focused on specific concepts and more difficult to directly translate to the design of spaces.
From the design perspective, professionals are using the available information and extrapolating this to the creation of vibrant, integrated, and beautiful spaces that have the capacity to create a restorative environment. Researchers are focusing on specific health benefits, creating an evidence-based design agenda that has the ability to be grounded in peer-reviewed, hard science that truly shows the benefits. The connection between these designers and researchers has proven more difficult to realize due to different methods, language, and goals. The aim of this project is provide a stronger bond of design and research within the therapeutic design community, raising the bar for what is considered a healing environment.
Susan Erickson, ASLA
PLaCE Program Coordinator
326 College of Design
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa 50011
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Links to Additional Resources
Therapeutic Landscapes Database
The Center for Health Design Research