Green care

Large outdoor vertical gardens as well as smaller projects with plenty of plants indoors are changing the way we design our urban environment and interior designs. Plants and flowers do contribute to our well being in easily measurable ways, as well as in more psychosocial regard, which are areas of contemporary research. Hospitals and eldercare are obvious areas where green surroundings can boost rehab activities as well as give what researchers call soft fascination in nature.

Petra Thorpert, who teaches at SLU, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, is keenly interested in the aesthetics of green walls in the cityscape.

“Both green roofs and walls reduce sounds, light, and temperature in the city. My focus is on how our color perception and our emotional life is affected by green additions in the city.”

A two-hectare specially designed rehabilitation garden was laid out at the campus of SLU in Alnarp almost 20 years ago. The garden has been used as a living laboratory for Petra and colleagues studying the effects of nature as a means for rehabilitation of individuals with stress related disorders. Divided into separated distinct environments, participants would engage in garden activities that also gave refuge and comfort during the rehab process.

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Greenworks is busy designing living walls for hospitals and assisted living facilities . Hanna Malmström, in charge of Norlandia’s elderly care facility in Boden in northern Sweden, is truly satisfied with their new addition to a greener interior.

“Everybody has embraced our green walls, both our residents and their relatives,’ says Hanna Malmström. You can see how the plants and flowers change continuously, it’s all alive and it’s a big difference compared to the stylish and somewhat cold interiors we were used to.”

Hanna Malmström explains that the custodian in charge is a former gardener.
“He will bring our residents along. Some will help him out in his tending of the green walls, others are content just looking at the work being done. They have probably already done their share of gardening in their life.”

Greenworks was chosen by the construction company NCC to install a 125 sqm living wall on an old facade which was moved indoors to the entrance hall in a new wing of Universitetssjukhuset in Örebro. About 40 plants now cover the wall in a pattern of long irregular stripes that goes from the roof to the floor. The conditions are good with much natural light and with plenty of complementary light sources so there are great conditions for the plants to grow and be a true vertical garden over time.

Greenworks’ recent project, the hospital in Örebro, is described by Isak Birgersson, architect at AART:
“In the entrance hall of the H-huset, the plant wall is placed on a large wall surface that is in the spotlight in all directions of this part of the hospital. There, it serves as a soothing motif both for those who move through the entrance hall and for those who sit and wait. The actual design of the plant wall was done by Greenworks with a good sensitivity for the surrounding space and in dialogue with clients and all other involved parties.

Jens Öqvist, landscape engineer and designer of green walls at Greenworks, is well aware that vertical gardens can contribute to an increased health in both hospitals and eldercare.
“Other than adding oxygen and reducing pollutants, I do believe that a green surrounding contributes to a soothing and relaxing milieu that is beneficial for all ages. There are a lot of retired folks who admire our green walls when out on their daily walks, sometimes they even applaud when they discover what we have come up with.“
“I believe this way of adding lush green to a formerly concrete and very grey cityscape is a real change in how we build and live in our cities. This is the future!”