Unformatted text preview: mans (Stigsdotter, 1999; 1998). My thoughts wandered to heavenly
heights, and the topic and title of my Master’s thesis was Längtan efter Paradiset (Longing
for Paradise, Stigsdotter, 1998). My questions – how the longing for Paradise was
manifested in medieval monastic gardens and in the renaissance gardens of popes and
cardinals – and my background in art history brought me to Italy, the Swedish Institute in
Rome and its surrounding landscape. With great fervor, I studied, compared and
experienced the monastic gardens and the hortus conclusus of the renaissance gardens. My
question may seem pretentious and I did not find a straightforward answer, other than that
the longing for a secure, innocent and sheltered garden appears to be a universal
(Stigsdotter, 1999; 1998). Moreover, I was struck by how remarkably similar the designs of
these different religious doctrines’ gardens were, with their enclosing walls, geometrical
form, just a few symbolic trees and a centrally located water theme (see Figure 1, ibid.). Figure 1. A sketch of an ancient Egyptian model of a small garden. Models of this kind were placed
in graves and followed the deceased into the afterlife. Drawing by Ulrika A. Stigsdotter. 7 My thoughts concerned how landscape architects might design gardens that correspond to
this longing in modern humans. According to the Christian doctrine, what is waiting for the
faithful after death is eternity in a garden, where they will live in peace with other animals
and humans and where there is no shame, pain, illness or hard labor (Stigsdotter, 1999;
1998; Prest, 1988). But is it really a garden in paradise we are longing for today? My
thoughts continued toward connecting the idea of a good place to that of a healthful place.
The subject of health is always topical, as health is something we all strive for and hope to
achieve. In Swedish, the word häsla (health) is etymologically tied to the words hel (whole)
and lycka (happiness) (Hellqvist, 1999; see also Paper V). Thus, health is a positive state
encompassing the individual’s entire life situation, not least concerning his/her environment
(see Paper V). How do we, as landscape architects, create healthy and happy environments?
We did not learn how to do this in our training.
My interest in the relation between people and good and healthful garden environments
caused me to contact Associate Professor Patrik Grahn. He immediately presented for me
the phenomenon of healing gardens and enabled me to gain practical experience of them in
a pilot project prior to my postgraduate studies. Pilot project – Solberga Park in Älvsjö
In comparison to heavenly gardens, the pilot project constituted an abrupt step into reality.
The pilot project was a research and training project run by Älvsjö, a city district just south
of Stockholm, and Movium, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences’ secretariat for
urban outdoor environments. The overall goal of the project was to develop...
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