Memory Care Gardens

| April 27, 2016

by Rachel Sunnell


Rachel Sunnell

Landscape architects create spaces for all types of clientele to add greenery, stone, structure, walkways, and much more. At Gawron Turgeon Architects (GTA) in Scarborough, Maine, their landscape architects are experts in memory care gardens and exterior spaces for their healthcare and senior living clients.

Providing secured spaces that are welcoming, offering seasonal colors, easy way-finding, and accessible walking surfaces are some of the details that are of the utmost importance. Pathways and patio areas are circular in form for ease with soft angles and are designed with ample green space since access to nature has proven to reduce stress and anxiety among residents as well as staff.

Currently, Gawron Turgeon Architects is focused on multiple memory care projects throughout New England, and their landscape architects are engrossed in creating beautiful, detailed memory care gardens. The initial phase in any space is making sure the clients’ goals are thoroughly understood regarding the site layout and the resident experience. At the heart of these goals is always the residents’ healing and, sometimes, therapeutic experience in the designed spaces.

Private sitting area

Private sitting area

Transition, changing from one space to another, is taken into careful consideration when it comes to memory care gardens. The progression of spaces from a porch to a site or shade structure and then on to an open, park-like setting is an important consideration for landscape architects to ensure residents comfortably adjust to changing light levels and feelings of safety and security. Each scenario and transition is carefully woven into each and every garden design. Connectivity of exterior spaces is accomplished through diverse sitting areas, patios, and walkways. The configuration considers flexibility in use, separate circulation from activity areas, and site amenities for sun or protection from the weather.

Exterior wellness opportunities for residents are a priority for senior living homes and healthcare facilities. Research has found that both physical and visual connections to the outdoor environment and nature provide for a sense of wellbeing and a healing experience. For a healing garden to be successful, it is critical that there is easy access and that the view is lush with greenery and just the right amount of structure.

Rachel Sunnell, RLA, is the Landscape Architect Director at  Gawron Turgeon Architects.

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