Designing Healing Environments: A Literature Review on the Benefits of Healing Gardens for Children in Healthcare Facilities and the Urgent Need for Policy Implementation

1. Introduction

Healing gardens can be traced back to the Greeks at the end of the sixth century B.C. when they used “healing centres” in temples [1,2] with the specific usage of natural spring water. This trend was followed by monasteries in Egypt before spreading to Western Europe in the 5th century A.D. [3]. In the Middle Ages, cloisters were used as primary settings for patients to be treated by monks within monasteries [4]. They contained herbaceous planting which was thought to be medicinal. There was an emphasis on provisions of fresh air, accessing areas of sunlight, and daily walks around the gardens. Through plagues, migration, and harvest failure, monasteries were forced to cap their medical resources [5]. As monasticism declined in the 16th century, their methodologies in using healing gardens became a distant memory [6]. In the mid-eighteenth century, industrialisation, migration, and overpopulation accounted for countless deaths due to lack of hygiene and increasing levels of pollution [7]. This triggered a movement of building hospitals within towns rather than in the countryside which, at the time, were seen as more salutary [8]. In the mid-nineteenth century, the concept of pavilion design hospitals in England became popular through John Roberton and George Godwin [9]. The modified style allowed garden views from patient rooms, increased segregation to prevent disease spreading, and enhanced ventilation [9].

This was supported by Florence Nightingale: “quite perceptible in promoting recovery, the being able to see out of a window” [10]. She further demonstrated this through her findings of a lower mortality rate in pavilion-style hospitals than others [9]. Sanitisation, natural sunlight, and clean air became a normality for patients to expect from hospitals [8]. Before pavilion-style hospitals, “open spaces attached to hospitals became accidents of local architectural tradition” [6] (p. 11), but now they were gaining importance.

Healing gardens reached the Victorian period where it became normalised in upper class society to be whisked away to one’s country home when sick for a “change of air” [11]. Doctors prescribed patients to …


Leave a Reply