This Office philosophy is part of my thesis for Master degree in Landscape Architecture that took place in the TECHNION – ISRAEL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning
How can the design of outdoor spaces most benefit the wellbeing of mental health patients?
The Office philosophy, based on the paradigm of the restorative benefits of nature,
While the belief that nature or nature-like settings are beneficial to the sick dates back centuries, the first empirical study containing unequivocal scientific evidence was published only in 1984 (Ulrich 1984).
The philosophy based on three theoretical frameworks: ‘The Healing Garden’, ‘Therapeutic Gardening’, and ‘the Cognitive Approach’. Varied and distinct theories were introduced within these frameworks to explain the connections between the clinical, physiological and mental state of humans and their environment. Some suggest the connection is based on ‘evolutionary memory’ (or ‘adaptive memory’), while other psychological theories propose that gardens are inclusive environments or stress the importance of the actual physical activity done in the garden.
Several design principles were identified as having an actual impact on the wellbeing of mental patients and assisting in restoring their mental health.
-Expanding green spaces, encouraging patients to stay outdoors preferably in natural environments and using water elements will provide access to nature.
-Transferring some activities outdoor and offering a wide range of sensory stimuli reinforces a connection to nature.
-Various clinical needs are addressed by offering many options for use of the outdoor spaces. Meeting places suitable for family visits provide both safety and privacy. Encouraging rewarding outdoor activities and occupation as well as providing supervised niches for retreat and outdoor spaces that can assist diagnosis, while separating the recreational spaces of staff members from those of the patients.
-The use of plants will promote a sense of vitality, reality and time. Spaces arranged in a clear and hierarchical way, using vegetation to distinctly define spaces, create spaces that encourage personal interactions as a way to prepare the patients’ reintegration into the community. The personal identity of patients is strengthened through therapeutic gardening, ‘private’ gardening and hobby spaces, defined tasks and responsibilities, such as feeding the animals, watering the lawn.
-A sense of safety and security is provided by addressing the different needs of staff, family members and patients. Accessibility to all facilities is ensured by a simple and clear traffic system, which facilitate orientation and spatial configuration.
As a landscape architect, the encounter with designed environments in mental health institutes led me to the realization that the outdoor planning and design of these environments is far from being satisfactory, and is in need of a research-based plan, a systematic understanding of the needs of its target audience, and a vision that connects between landscape architecture and physical and mental health restoration.
As a citizen and a human being, these encounters led me to the jolting realization that mentally heal people, despite the fact they are first and foremost human beings like the rest of us, were relegated to the margins of society, out of sight, out of mind, and that we, as a society, do not try hard enough to improve their wellbeing.
courtyard garden in the protected unit in the Abarbanel mental hospital in the city of Bat-yam has been designed as a therapeutic garden. The 400 m2 garden was envisioned to become a refuge from the daily indoor hospitalization. The paved area is divided into two rectangles, one containing tall trees and plants that have large leaves to maximize the plant mass in front of the five-story, cold, metal hospital building. A small spring (included in the design but not built!) was to lead the water throw a flat pebble path to anther spring in the other space (second rectangle). The flat pebble path functions as a reflexology path for relaxation and self-monitoring. There are shade membranes that contain a fog system to improve the microclimate and to act as a meditative functional facility. The planting is subdivided by several groups of plants: herbs, fruit trees, perennial’s, end cold coolers flowers. Climbers were planted on metal fences to screen both the fence and visitors.
Patio budget $80.,000; completion of design 2012, construction and opening 2014
The holocaust memorial park is located in the town of BINYAMINA and spreads over 3000 m2. The garden is part of the main green area of the town center.
The garden planning rational is a public gathering area for ceremonies, in particular on Holocaust Memorial Day.
The intermediacy of the space was one of the basic design principles and arises from two sources: 1. The GHETTO, an enclosed area that the Jewish people were forced to live in and were not allowed to leave!
2. This intimate situation makes the event of remembering an act of prayer.
The pine trees were preserve for the sake of evoking scenes of classic European vegetation. The wall made out of Cota bricks symbolizes the pain out of the material`! The sculpture artist Mrs. FISER brought the narrative to the pic, a flame that no matter what will not to be extinguished. The Jewish people will survive and warm the universe with their vitality and cultural flame.
Park budget $ 0.5 million; completion of design 2011; construction and opening 2012
The extreme sport park KLARIN is located in the city of HADERA in ISRAEL. It contains several sport & extreme facilities on an area of 2.5 hectares (6.18 acres).
The main facility is a 1500 m2 skate plaza that has a 50 m long 4-6 m high sliding wall that represents a swell. The wall also functions as an acoustic barrier between the neighborhood and the park.
Park budget $1.5 million; completion of design 2013; construction and opening 2015
This roundabout is located in a strategic spot in the town of PARDES-HANA on road Nos. 651& 652, connecting several towns in the region. The main idea is to create a land mark that combines three major elements: interactive social event, geographical & cultural.
The roundabout became a stage for emotional expression or protest against affairs that are of interest to the public and individuals. Marking a grandfather’s birthday or protesting against the location of the gas portal on the coast near residences, the roundabout was designed as a geographic, thematic land mark write elements that can rice to all inhabitants. The sculpture represents three generations that are living together in the town of PARDES HANA. and welcomes the ones entering the town.
Roundabout budget $200,000; completion of design 2010; construction & opening 2013
“We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are”
The senses subject is an a fascinating and diverse and undoubting promises interest and experience in a subject like garden. The proposed garden is aimed mainly to kids and youth and thus turn to them in their own language, a language of a developed imagination., original thinking, dynamic and a vision to a distance beyond to the reveled and to the obvious. In the garden we will be exposed to the five senses known as touch, smell, taste, sight and voice but above all we will get into an existing experience of senses illusions, and imagination inspiring, inspiration, thinking and nonetheless caressing and relaxing-we don’t see things as they are but as we are, all in the viewer eyes.
The planning principles:
Access to the garden – The garden is a closed garden with one main entrance from the kids department building which acquire the visitor in the garden a feeling of privacy and belonging, and initial experiences and excitement each time he will enter the garden and gradually find out his contents. This inaction is partly reflected in the physical condition of some of these institutes, both at the aesthetic and functional levels. I still remember clearly the felled trees and the weathered trunks that marked the main entrance to one of these facilities.