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Forest Therapy. Design of a center for people struggling with depression

17 of August '23
w skrócie
  1. The design of the Responsive Therapeutic Center by Karolina Richter is based on the use of nature and architecture to support the treatment of depression.
  2. The center consists of two buildings on a circular plan - a hotel and a therapy building.
  3. The author introduced natural materials - wood and moss, with which she covered the facade.
  4. As an additional element to support therapy, the student used an interactive façade made of glass spheres filled with natural fragrance oils.
  5. For more interesting information, visit the home page of the A&B portal

How can nature and architecture help treat depression? That was the question posed by {tag:studenci} from the Opole University of Technology when designing the Responsive Therapeutic Center. The center, located surrounded by mountains and forests in Sobieszów, Jelenia Góra, is designed for people struggling with depression. With a location full of greenery, stimulation of the senses and "forest therapy," the facility is expected to facilitate recovery.

The work presented here is an engineering diploma done under the direction of Dr. Anna Grajper-Dobiesz.

While working on the diploma, I looked at methods of treating depression related to architecture and nature, which can help fight the symptoms of the disease faster or at least minimize them, as well as improve the mood and well-being of patients. In my design, one of the primary forms of therapy, influencing the design of the facility and the rules for its use, is „forest therapy.” I have also designed an interactive installation for aromatherapy—stimulating the sense of smell," says Karolina Richter.

Centrum terapii, plan sytuacyjny

therapy center, site plan

© Karolina Richter

stimulating the senses

The author's main idea is to stimulate the patients senses through the philosophy of wandering, according to the values used in „forest therapy.” The beginning of the hike begins at the foot of the slope, while the hotel building that the visitors reach is a „transitional moment” according to the author. All rooms of the facility have been located so that there is an unobstructed view of the forest and mountains, facilitating relaxation and tranquility. At these points in the hike, the sense of sight is mainly used.

Ścieżka terapeutyczna prowadzi przez las

The therapeutic path leads through the forest

© Karolina Richter

A further hike leads along a forest path connecting the hotel facility with the therapeutic facility. Here the sense of hearing is stimulated through the sounds of nature, birdsong and the sound of the wind. The route also allows activating the sense of touch—tree bark, moss, and smell—the smell of the forest. The hike ends with a fragrant therapeutic building covered with moss.

The hotel was designed in the form of a circle, from which the author cut out the center, making it a therapeutic building where meetings, classes and workshops are held.

Aksonometria hotelu

© Karolina Richter

moss facade

The surroundings of the mountains and forests, as well as the illness faced by the facility's users, influenced the decision to use local materials such as moss and wood. While making a site visit and hiking the nearby trails of the Karkonosze National Park, the author noticed a large amount of moss growing in the forests and on the surface of boulders. Inspired, she decided to apply it to the facade and roof of the therapy building.

Budynek terapeutyczny z elewacją z mchu

Therapy building with moss facade

© Karolina Richter

Moss has very good properties related to water absorption and retention, does not require any special care, and is pleasant to the touch and supports the respiratory system. In addition, the smell of moss, as a natural element of the building's covering, creates a coherent context with the existing flora and fauna, allowing the architecture to blend visually and aromatically into the world of plants and animals, thus creating a skin—camouflage, the designer adds.

Rzut hotelu

© Karolina Richter

therapy in the forest

The stay at the center lasts about 2 to 3 weeks, and the Center is designed to accommodate a maximum of 36 people. Each person receives a private room with a bathroom during his or her turn. In the residential building, patients have a library, a yoga room, a living room and a cafeteria at their disposal.

Rzut budynku terapeutycznego

© Karolina Richter

During their stay, patients can benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy, which takes place in a therapy building 1.5 kilometers away. Psychological therapy offers individual and group meetings in specially adapted rooms. Users of the therapy building, while waiting for an appointment with a therapist, can also use a common room, designed for relaxing or drinking coffee or tea.

Przekrój i elewacja budynku terapeutycznego

cross-section and elevation of the therapy building

© Karolina Richter

The designed buildings, and the path connecting them, provide accessibility for people with disabilities. The author leveled the faults and provided longitudinal slopes, less than 5%. She also assumed the possibility of transportation by a vehicle specially adapted for those willing to enjoy a forest hike, but who may have difficulties with mobility.

Interaktywna instalacja na elewacji budynku terapeutycznego

An interactive installation on the facade of the therapy building

© Karolina Richter

interactive scent facade

As an additional therapy aid, the student introduced a facade made of glass spheres filled with natural fragrance oils.

The design of this installation was inspired by the philosophy of creating forest micro-worlds in the form of forests enclosed in a jar with personalized microflora. Based on this idea, I created an interactive installation in the form of a wall of moss with hidden glass spheres with fragrant properties. The spheres, on the other hand, were inspired by, scented fireplaces, which, as a result of heat, evaporate the water they contain and emit the scent of the added oil," Karolina Richter explains.

Schemat interakcji z budynkiem terapeutycznym

© Karolina Richter

Upon arrival at the hotel, each person is given a smartwatch with a bluetooth module. Upon reaching the therapy building, the corresponding scent path in the form of interactive spheres is activated.

As the user approaches the respective sphere, light is emitted, which engages the user to follow the further interactive path and experience the therapeutic scents. The scents are activated by the heat given off by human hands. An additional element is a system involving the retention of rainwater, which, when reused, is not only used to water the moss, but is also distributed to the glass spheres, the author adds.

At night the installation is not active, so as not to disturb the natural biological clock of the animals.

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