Research was based on a series of gardens at a children’s hospital
Brisbane-based Conrad Gargett received international recognition at the European Healthcare Design Awards held in London earlier this month. After being shortlisted for ‘Design Research’, the Queensland firm was highly commended for a research paper on its Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital project, for which it provided architecture, landscape and interior design.
The research paper ‘Normalcy in healthcare design: An extension of the natural and built environment’ outlines the case for biophilic and people-centred building design in healthcare settings to improve in patient experiences, treatment and wellbeing. Co-authored by Conrad Gargett principal landscape Architect Katharina Nieberler-Walker, in partnership with Griffith University and QUT, the research focuses on the healing gardens at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH) .
It explores how the inclusion and design of gardens and green spaces in healthcare facilities could reduce stress for staff, patients and their families, while helping to expedite recovery times for patients by ‘normalising’ hospital environments. The design of each garden drew extensively on emergent evidence-based findings about the therapeutic and sustainability properties of integrated gardens.
Katharina Nieberler-Walker was involved in the design process from the initial design. She believes the role of green infrastructure in hospital buildings in promoting normalising environments is a topic not yet fully investigated. ‘The definition of a healing garden is generally agreed to be a nature-oriented space designed to provide restorative, therapeutic or rehabilitative potential,’ she said. ‘In this research, we explored and expanded upon various design considerations for reducing stress and confusion, as well as providing a sense of normalcy in what can be a very challenging time for patients, patient families and staff. Preliminary evaluation of the LCCH healing gardens provides much needed evidence of design considerations for healing gardens that contribute to both their ability to improve patient experiences and wellbeing, as well as the sustainability of these spaces.’
She said that having 11 gardens throughout the children’s hospital offered various opportunities to access nature as well as natural light while allowing time away in nature to help re-establish a person’s capacity to pay attention. ‘Whilst interest in, and the inclusion of, gardens in hospitals is increasing, there still remain few examples of rigorously researched and evaluated healing gardens that contribute to patient experiences and well-being,’ Nieberler-Walker said.