Click this image for an interesting Prezi by Michaela:
What comes to mind when you think of therapeutic landscapes today? Perhaps images of the Olson Family Garden, St. Louis or the Nacadia Healing Forest Garden, Copenhagen. ‘Therapeutic’ landscapes in American history are an elusive topic. Penitentiaries, asylums, hospitals and cemeteries as physical environments have produced division and tension between their idealistic origins and their undesirable outcomes.
The Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians opened in 1902 in Canton, South Dakota as the second federal institution for the mentally insane. The intent was for it to be a therapeutic landscape like its counterpart, St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington D.C. The asylum provided the ideal setting outlined by the Kirkbride Plan but failed to provide the treatment and rehabilitation.
Without consideration for culture and alternative goals as a solution to the “Indian Problem” the asylum was a miserable failure in direct contrast to St. Elizabeths which has adapted with time and is still in operation. We can learn from history. If we follow design principles without consideration for culture, we will achieve the same result.