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Doctoral thesis, 2011

On the use and experience of a health garden

Tenngart Ivarsson Carina


During the last decades an increasing amount of research suggests that a stay in a natural environment could reduce stress and help people restore. Furthermore, several decades of horticultural therapy have shown good outcomes in treating for example post-traumatic stress symptoms. Aiming at developing a new kind of therapy that combined the use of restorative natural areas, with therapies such as horticultural therapy and traditional occupational therapy, the Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden was designed and built in 2001. The intention is that the garden, with its combination of possibilities for experiences and the different activities conducted within the therapy, should be considered a supportive environment and a health promoting part of the therapy. The main objective of this thesis is to contribute to the knowledge of health garden design, which can be used by, for example, landscape architects commissioned to design gardens with the intention of being used to promote health. The aim is to explore how the Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden is used and experienced in order to develop a deeper understanding about this kind of mixed built and natural environment. The theoretical framework in the thesis is presented with a focus on the relation between health and the surrounding natural or built environment as well as gardens and their relation to health promotion. A multidisciplinary approach is used, where case study methodology is the overarching methodology, and the Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden is a single-case. Within the case study other methods, for example interviews and participant observation, have been used as sub-methods. The mixed built scene type of gardens is perceived as restorative, and the findings about the experience are discussed in relation to preference, safety, refuge, compatibility and rootedness. Regarding the use, the results are discussed in relation to the findings of introvert and extrovert walks and also in relation to the mechanisms behind a restorative experience. When comparing the results, refuge, safety and walking are notions that stand out as important. This case study broadens the discussion on the significance of this scene type and how designers can work with health design. Keywords: case study, environmental psychology, healing garden, landscape architecture, nature, restorative, scene type, supportive environment, walking.


gardens; healing; therapy; health care; psychological factors; case studies; landscaping; site factors

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2011, number: 2011:89
ISBN: 978-91-576-7633-7
Publisher: Department of Work Science, Business Economics and Environmental Psychology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Tenngart, Carina

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Health and Occupational Health

URI (permanent link to this page)