I recently had the pleasure of meeting Naomi Sacks, who runs the Therapeutic Landscape Network. She is currently working on a PhD in Architecture here at TAMU. But her accomplishments exceed that of many who have long had such academic di…stinction. Her book, Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces, is available on Amazon. Though Naomi’s focus is on landscape design in institutional settings, I look forward to learning as much as I can about her approach and applying it to the residential setting.Landscaping tends to be the unwanted stepchild of residential design. Tract builders want to put as little cost into landscape as possible to keep their essential benchmark, cost per square foot of heated space, as low as possible. And it is also overlooked in custom design. Even if there is landscaping in the package, it is usually not designed and it is usually the fund that is drawn from for upgrades inside the house. This is a shame because good landscape design that is integrated with the design of the home can have more impact than almost any other aspect of a custom home. A well landscaped home invites you outside and provides dramatic views out of every window.
When design is not contained by the footprint of the house, expanded living spaces are created. This can be a strategy to reduce the overall size of the house, thus lowering, not increasing, costs. But more importantly it can provide natural connection that cannot be achieved when design is restricted to inside spaces. The affect of this connection is why our tag line is “We Design and Build Happiness.” Our claim is supported by quite a lot of science.
Landscaping is also an essential part of green building. Shading canopies on the western exposure of a home can have a surprisingly dramatic impact on cooling costs and allow for day lighting that would otherwise be unwise. If you are inclined to fresh air in the home, the landscape can help funnel prevailing breezes to open windows. The default, no design, yards of turf is not only uninspiring it is also a great consumer of water. While good landscape design is not inexpensive, it is usually a great value over time.
Landscape design is an integral part of our Transitions theory of design. We seek to design a naturally connected, healthy, experiential home, which is what Naomi’s work is all about. I am looking forward to a deep learning experience.