Commercial developments often hold the potential to transform projects into something more than a new piece of real estate. They hold the potential to inspire, to bring people together, to impact upon the way people live, and to make a statement about the aspirations of the people who will occupy them. Depending on the type of development, its purpose and its scale, there are a myriad of opportunities and reasons to incorporate green infrastructure into its design. The motivation may be to create hype for a new business development, drive interest in sales, improve the liveability of a space, encourage authentic and meaningful engagement with its intended users, or perhaps most importantly, to create a statement about your company’s aspirations for a sustainable future. Whatever the purpose or motive, inspired and extraordinary green infrastructures hold the potential to transform the typical into the unimaginable – creating a statement people will want to be involved in.
Schools are embracing gardening as a way of improving student health and wellbeing. Although research has long shown a clear link between school gardening programs and fostering healthy eating and nutrition, we now know students’ ability to develop resilience, deal with stress and improve their academic scores is linked to their access to greenspaces. As we reimagine what schools can look like, classrooms are being orientated to embrace backdrops in nature and give students the opportunity to engage with the benefits of doing so. Landscapes are now seen as equally important opportunities for informal and respectful interactions with teachers and a way for students to have a say in how their school looks – things we know are strong indicators of student wellbeing.
Care settings have increasingly embraced gardens as a place for patients and residents to rehabilitate and recuperate. New hospitals often include rooftop gardens, designated greenspaces and optimise views out onto gardens from patient rooms. Patients and their visitors are encouraged to go outdoors to spend time together and special attention has been given to how to make spaces accessible, inviting and therapeutic. Occupational therapists and therapeutic horticulturists are using gardening activities to improve strength and function or to encourage planning and processing skills as they undertake propagation or potting activities. To be able to connect rehabilitation with a patient’s interest and enjoyment in gardening often aids faster recovery.
The comfort of continuing to enjoy gardening is a major reason for the popularity of therapeutic gardening programs in aged care also. Access to their gardens is often at the top of the list of things people fear losing as they move out of their homes and into aged care. Opportunities for residents to have a say over what is growing, to bring plants with them from home and actively tend to the gardens creates opportunities for connection to both people and nature. Inspired landscapes allows residents to continue to enjoy something they love, but also dignifies their lived experience, wealth of knowledge and the contribution they can make to their new environment.
What if self-care, time out, connection to loved ones and an appreciation of nature simply meant seeing green in your home? As the therapeutic benefits of greenspaces are well researched in other contexts, we shouldn’t overlook the simplicity of recreating them at home. Incorporating an inspired greenspace in a home is a symbol of care, a commitment to wellbeing, and a statement about the individual contribution one home can make to growing global issues. But it’s also more intimate than that. It’s an opportunity to envelope ourselves in a private jungle and urban escape – to rejuvenate, re-energise, re-connect and re-invest in our own happiness and wellbeing. An oasis for the mind, body and the soul – for ourselves and our loved ones.