Publication Date

Spring 2023

Committee Members

Patricia McGirr Theodore Eisenman Carolina Aragon


Healing landscapes have long been an important aspect of human life. Monastic communities in the Western world-maintained infirmaries based on the use of herbs and prayers, which nearly invariably included a cloistered garden. The relevance of nature in the healing process has been significantly lessened as a result of modern improvements in technology, and this has been one regrettable result of the "cure over care" phenomenon present in many parts of the healthcare field. Traditional healing gardens are frequently located in or near indoor healthcare facilities. "Why?" is the question. Why can’t therapeutic gardens work as healing landscapes blending with the existing urban context? Leveraging the urban built environment to promote good physical health and prevent injuries has been a mainstay of planning and design for years. However, it took a pandemic to bring attention to the impact of urban planning and landscape design on mental health. This research is urgent and necessary because of the resulting global understanding of the importance of this nexus (Restorative Cities 2021). While millions of people have been harmed by physical illness, the worldwide population's psychological impact has been the most significant. For the most part, Covid-19 was marked by loss – loss of loved ones, livelihoods and security, life plans, and, most importantly, the ability to interact with the outside world. Mental health problems were triggered and exacerbated with repercussions predicted to last for years. According to statistics, around 450 million people worldwide suffer from a mental illness or a neurological problem. Off the record, more than half of the world's population is unaware of their mental trauma and continues to live their lives unaffected. Psychiatric and neurological illnesses are an often-overlooked but growing problem, particularly in developing third-world countries. P a g e | 8 India is not far behind in sharing the same concerns of mental health. In less developed nations, the treatment gap ranges from 76% to 85%, as determined by the absolute difference between the prevalence of mental diseases and the proportion that is treated. The time has come to adopt a new strategy with renewed vigor to improve mental health (Srivastava, 2016). The science behind how city design can support and promote mental health and wellbeing has existed for years - and is rapidly growing. But its uptake into policy and practice has historically been patchy, marred by barriers like poor awareness, stigma, low funding and a lack of demand from influential advocates. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has helped to distill what concerns to individuals in the urban environment, to remove some of the constraints, and to push significant improvement in urban planning and design for mental health after years of stasis. Cities will undoubtedly need to be denser and more compact in order to attain those urban attributes that allow us to walk, invest in and use public spaces, and minimize energy consumption and carbon footprint. It poses difficulties integrating nature and other attributes to guarantee that all urban residents have access to the natural world they require for healing. Nature can be encountered in a variety of ways and takes on many different forms. But to some extent, nature is a societal construct. The majority of urban areas have green rooftops, green balconies, or green vertical facades, all of which have a favorable psychological impact. In contrast to the rest of the gray, asphalted urban world, they offer the aspect of healing (Beatley, 2016). For architects and urban planners, breaking through the barriers between the inside and outside worlds has been a perennial challenge. Therefore, it is consequential to address the issue and create policies and strategies for intervention to help improve mental health on a large scale in urban areas.