In 2018 Spiire was engaged by Goulburn Valley Health to bring a new therapeutic courtyard garden, for the Palliative Care Ward in Shepparton, to life.
The intent of the project was to create a beautiful, welcoming and tranquil garden for the enjoyment of palliative care and dementia patients and their families and friends alike.
The seed for a therapeutic courtyard was sown when the Dean family made a considerable donation to the ward after losing their beloved mother and wife Ros in July 2016. Ros was an avid gardener and her family’s contribution allowed the palliative care unit to upgrade patient rooms, the indoor family area and instigate some of the initial items in the garden including the site clearing, shade sail and concrete hard stand adjacent the family room.
The garden’s design was born out of a design competition offered through Spiire’s graduate program to all Spiire Graduate Landscape Architects across our metropolitan and regional offices. The competition format generated a range of different ideas, perspectives and design proposals. It provided our young and aspiring landscape architects with the chance to participate in all phases of the project’s delivery and ultimately add a meaningful and built project to their portfolio of work.
Engagement and partnerships were at the core of this project success. From the initial meeting the client team saw the value of empowering young designers and supported Spiire’s initiative of procuring the design through a competition process. The therapeutic courtyard garden is a valuable addition to the Palliative care facilities and will cater to the social, spiritual and emotional needs of all who utilise this space.
For the duration of the project Spiire offered the services of two Senior Landscape Architects based in Shepparton and the competition winning graduates Adam Gardner and Martina Mohenska from Melbourne at no cost to the client. For Martina and Adam, the opportunity provided a chance to be involved in a community based project, be exposed to the power of community coming together for a common goal and see their project develop to completion.
Upon the completion of the landscape design it very quickly became apparent that the Shepparton community wanted to be involved and as such the procurement and construction of this project was achieved through financial donations, sponsorship and in-kind donations. Local media rallied behind the project from the turning of the sod covering the project in digital and print media platforms.
The site is designed, programmed and considered in such a way that patients, staff and visitors are drawn outside into the landscape and taken on a journey of discovery. With the intention to create a calming, restorative, therapeutic and safe outdoor environment to support up to four family groups at a time as well as nursing staff and Medical professionals as required.
The therapeutic garden has familiarity and fosters a sense of attachment and place. It has a variety of enclosed and public spaces for private and open exchanges. The planting design and sight-lines have been considered so that even when it is not physically accessible, it can be viewed from within the Palliative Care Ward blurring the perception between indoor and outdoor and providing interest throughout all seasons.
A carefully considered planting palette harbor’s familiarity and fosters a sense of attachment and nostalgia. Plant species have been carefully selected based on touch, sight and smell in order to create an experience that heighten the experience of interaction with nature for users.
Environmental sustainability formed part of the projects key objectives and were of up-most importance to both the implementation of the garden and also its longevity. Recycled, upcycled and environmentally friendly materials were incorporated throughout the design through the use of recycled bricks, sustainable timber products and by upcycling furniture, work which was lovingly done by the Kensington Gardens Men’s Shed. An unexpected and welcomed addition to the garden has been the native and honey bees who have been busy putting their pollinating skills to work.
The Goulburn Valley Health Therapeutic Courtyard is still a young garden and new addition to the Palliative Care unit at the Hospital. Its contribution to the facilities are unmeasurable with respect to the benefits it provides users including how it encourages people to explore and engage with the natural world. For a patient, visitor, or member of staff, time spent in a hospital can be a stressful experience, the intent of this design is to provide a space for self-reflection, meditation and potentially improve health outcomes.