Terrain Work’s Ageless Design Research project explores how landscape is vital to the mental and physical health for older adults and the ability to create environments for purposeful living. It also advocates for the integration of age friendly landscape design tactics that can bring about delight and foster purpose in life for all generations.
A pioneering scientific study demonstrating some of the health benefits of landscape was undertaken by Roger Ulrich in 1983. Ulrich found that patients whose rooms faced a courtyard of trees in a Pennsylvania hospital were admitted quicker, needed fewer strong pain doses, and recorded fewer negative comments than patients that faced a brick wall. More recently, Gregory Bratman and colleagues found that people taking a ninety minute walk in nature versus a ninety minute walk in urban conditions reported lower levels of rumination and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness. Benefits are not exclusive to exposure to nature, but gardening as cognitive therapy offers the potential to learn new skills, improve memory, attention, sense of responsibility, and improve self-esteem.
Terrain Work’s Ageless Design Research project explores ways to implement evidence based design in creative ways that go beyond a series of checklists to create environments that are immersive sensory experiences. Terrain Work has explored how landscapes can promote accessibility and autonomy, improve mobility while offering a sense of discovery and reward, activate the senses, and create landscape that facilitate social interaction.