Ph.D. student’s new book offers healing garden design resource

   Naomi Sachs

A new comprehensive evidence-based guide for designing healing gardens and therapeutic landscapes for healthcare facilities, from planning to post-occupancy evaluation, was co-authored by Naomi Sachs, a Ph.D. architecture student at Texas A&M, at a time when healthcare facilities are increasingly embracing access to nature as a means of improving patient outcomes.

Sachs and co-author Clare Cooper Marcus, Professor Emerita in Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, teamed to pen “Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces,” scheduled for an October 2013 release.

Many designers are incorporating, and many healthcare providers are demanding, evidence-based design in new construction and facility renovation because contact with nature, a number of studies has found, reduces stress, improves patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes.

The book offers a comprehensive resource on access to nature for healthcare environments to aid designers, healthcare providers and others wanting to provide spaces promoting the health and well-being of patients, visitors and staff.

The book’s chapters cover:

  • The history of outdoor space in healthcare design, the types and locations of therapeutic landscapes, and theory and research informing design decisions and participatory design;
  • Healing garden design guidelines that apply to all outdoor spaces, programming and site considerations and specific physical design qualities such as pathways, seating, planting and lighting;
  • Outdoor spaces for facilities serving specific populations, such as children, cancer or Alzheimer’s patients, mental and behavioral in- and out-patients, and
  • Sustainability, financial considerations, and evaluation.

Praise for the book came from Roger Ulrich, a former Texas A&M professor whose 1984 landmark research paper coined the phrase “evidence-based design.”

“Reading this book will be critically important for increasing the quality and success of any healthcare project that provides gardens and other forms of access to nature,” said Ulrich in the book’s foreword.

“More than any other previous book,” continued Ulrich, “‘Therapeutic Landscapes provides research-grounded yet user-friendly information that will enable readers to successfully design, fund, and build healthcare facilities that provide beneficial access to nature for patients, visitors, and staff.”

As a 2012-2014 William W. Caudill Research Fellowship recipient, Sachs has been working with researchers at Texas A&M’s Center for Health Systems and Design to identify and remove obstacles to providing access to nature in healthcare.

She’s the founder of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, a multidisciplinary knowledge base and virtual gathering place for information about landscapes that promotes health and well being.

Sachs earned a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of California-Berkeley in 1999.

posted June 7, 2013