Journal of Design and Built Environment Vol. 5, December 2009, pp. 77–95
Sensory Garden in Special Schools: The issues, design anduse
Postgraduate Student at the Edinburgh College of ArtSenior Lecturer, Dept. of Architecture, Faculty of Built Environment, University of Malayareenalambina@um.edu.my
This study investigates the design and use of sensory gardens in two special schools by evaluatingtheir zones and how they are utilised, especially by children with special needs, and the staff who carefor them. Preliminary site studies were undertaken in fourteen sensory gardens around the UK, followed by more detailed data collection at two case-study sites. The aim was to find out the features andissues that are common in sensory gardens. The data collection included interviews, behaviouralobservation, which was used in conjunction with affordance theory. Drawing on Moore and Cosco’sapproach (2007), the findings from the data analysis discuss the researcher’s main findings: Thelayout of the circulation network enables user behaviour and use of area, have the highest number of users; and users spent a longer time in zones where sensory, rather than aesthetic values wereemphasised. A subset of design recommendations had been produced that will be applicable to acrossall (or most) sensory gardens.Keywords:
Aesthetics, affordance, design, pathway, sensory, sensory garden, use.
The term ‘sensory garden’
in atherapeutic context usually refers to asmall garden that has been speciallydesigned to fulfil the needs of a group of people who want to be involved in activegardening and who also enjoy the passive pleasures of being outdoors amongst plants (Gaskell, 1994). Shoemaker (2002:195) stated that
‘sensory gardenscannot be designed without considering the human element. Unlike traditional display gardens that are meant to beobserved from a distance, sensory gardens draw the visitor into touch, smell and actively experience the garden withall senses’.
Lambe (1995:114) alsodifferentiated sensory gardens from anyother garden by her statement,
‘The onlydifference in a sensory garden is that all these components, (hand landscaping, soft landscaping, colours, textures and wildlife) must be carefully chosen and designed to appeal to the senses in sucha way that they provide maximum sensory stimulation’.
The attitude of having sensory gardenfor people with mobility or impairmentissues was reflected in the early design
Design and Built Environment