Posted by on Oct 5, 2015 in Product Reviews

Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens | Book Review

Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens, by Daniel Winterbottom and Amy Wagenfeld. 

Modern societies grow further and further away from nature. People tend to interact less and less with each other, instead spending their time locked in safe apartments and houses in front of their computer screens. At the same time, our old problems — sickness, disability, trauma, and loneliness — persist, while others, such as obesity, seem to become more common.

We need to try to help the less fortunate among us – the sick, the lonely, the outcasts … the list goes on. Nature — particularly gardens — is a wonderful therapeutic tool for helping a variety of different people with a whole array of problems. Working, playing, or just spending time among plants has been proven to help adults and children alike. “Design for Healing Spaces.

Design for Healing Spaces

Front cover of Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens. Photo credit: Marta Ratajszczak

Therapeutic Gardens.” by Daniel Winterbottom and Amy Wagenfeld, helps us to use this amazing tool — in a form available literally at our fingertips — in the most professional and efficient manner.

Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens

Overview

The book is divided into eight informative chapters, each devoted to a separate problem. The first two parts deal with the ideology of healing spaces and the way the design process should be approached. The middle five chapters extensively describe five different types of therapeutic gardens, while the final chapter deals with maintenance issues. Each of the chapters is based on real-life examples, which help the reader to achieve deeper understanding of the problem at hand and relate to it in a more meaningful manner.

MULTIPLE DRAWINGS, SKETCHES, AND PICTURES (242 color photos and 34 drawings!) add greatly to the value of the book. Numerous designs on various stages of the process can serve as a source of knowledge and inspiration for the reader. Every chapter is accompanied by several interesting and relevant case studies. Each of the chapters from 2 to 7 also includes essential information on the group of users, design considerations, and a personal statement from a garden’s user.

Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens

Inside Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens. Photo credit: Marta Ratajszczak

A Practical Guide to Designing Healing Gardens

After briefly outlining the history and theory behind healing gardens, the authors move on to more practical issues. The second chapter of the book deals with the design process, from the understanding of goals through site assessment to paths, plants, lighting, and other materials. The authors stress the value of participatory design – designing the garden in cooperation with its future users.

The consecutive chapters describe a variety of therapeutic spaces for different groups of users and multiple purposes. The authors detail how to design healing spaces for people with restricted mobility; people experiencing loss, trauma, or marginalization; the homeless; the sick; prison inmates; people with dementia, AIDS, and cancer; post traumatic stress disorder sufferers; and many more.

Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens

Inside Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens. Photo credit: Marta Ratajszczak

THEY WRITE ABOUT LEARNING and sensory garden,s as well as community green spaces. They mention gardens for health care facilities, schools – both ordinary and special needs — private residences, refugee centers, and prisons.

Imaginative and original ideas for each type of garden are suggested, possible problems are mentioned, and solutions are proposed. Every healing space is as different as its users, and an individual approach is necessary. But certain rules and examples can be followed while others may inspire the designers.

THE FINAL CHAPTER IS NO LESS IMPORTANT. The authors stress the significance of good maintenance, established right from the very beginning of the project. The community’s help is invaluable; therefore, it’s a priority to ensure community support and involvement at the design stage, through the garden’s construction, and into its existence.

Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens.

Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens. Photo credit: Marta Ratajszczak

The authors outline the areas that the whole team needs to take under consideration, such as available staff, prospective volunteers, possible patient or user involvement, and, last but not least, budget. Keeping those issues in mind will ensure that the garden doesn’t fall into disuse.

Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens.

Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens. Photo credit: Marta Ratajszczak

Is it for Me?

The book offers a unique blend of views and attitudes, thanks to it being written by a landscape architect, Daniel Winterbottom, and an occupational therapist, Amy Wagenfeld. The book’s layout, variety of illustrations, and case studies make it an interesting and informative handbook, a comprehensive guide for designers, landscape architects, and health-care providers.

Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens.

Image from the book Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens. Photo credit: Marta Ratajszczak

IT’S A MUST HAVE for everyone involved in planning therapeutic gardens, as well as for those who have only started to discover this particular type of design or those who want to broaden their existing knowledge. It is also beautifully published, which makes it a real gem in every landscape architect’s library.

If you love this book, check out these other book reviews:

Pick up your copy of Design for Healing Spaces. Therapeutic Gardens today!

Review by Marta Ratajszczak

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Marta Ratajszczak, Writer

Marta is an ambitious garden designer based inPoland, always trying to think outside of the box and express new ideas to encourage people to open their mind to the beautiful world of design and imagination.
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