Green roofs for good health

Doctors and nurses have long been aware of the fact that poorly people who have views of green vistas, plants and living landscapes recover from their illnesses quicker than those looking out at brick walls and bare roofs.  Access to green space is also helpful for their friends and relatives who are understandably stressed at having a loved one incapacitated.  Hospitals are not nice places at the best of times.

But what of hospitals where space is limited and high-rise wards are the norm?  stepping out of a door into a healing garden is probably not possible, but in Germany’s Diakonie-Klinikum and at the Mercy Medical Centre in Baltimore green roofs have been created so that patients can at least have a green outlook, even if they’re not able to physically access a healing garden.

green roofs in german hospital

Hospital green roofs from the patient's perspective

Landscape Architecture student Kevan Busa studied for his qualification whilst in hospital receiving treatment for leukemia.  Kevan completed his final project on the healing potential of landscape design from a patient’s perspective.   Highlighted in the June 2013 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, Kevan explains the frustration of a poorly designed healing space.  “A visit to an outdoor garden is out of the question for many patients” Busa wrote “the solution may be gardens that can be experienced from indoors, through glass.  This idea may not sound terribly inviting, but it is a far preferable alternative to 100 days of brick walls.”

Healing roofs at home

Enviromat’s Angela Lambert has personal experience of the value of a green roof to poorly people.  Angela’s mother has back problems that mean she cannot always tackle the stairs in her Hertfordshire home.  Sometimes she gets stuck upstairs (there’s no downstairs loo) for hours at a time where she occupies herself by watching the comings and goings of butterflies, bees and other wildlife on the green roof of the shed that her bedroom window overlooks.  “The green roof is far more interesting to watch than daytime TV and helps Mum feel connected with her beloved garden even when she can’t get out of doors” says Angela