Biophilic urbanism: how rooftop gardening soothes souls

What do an engineer, a building surveyor and a mental health nurse have in common? The answer is a retrofitted rooftop garden. This was a project developed to evaluate the impact of horticultural therapy on the health and wellbeing of people recovering from mental illness.When engineer Rob Casilick contacted building surveyor and academic Sara Wilkinson with the news that he had funding to evaluate the GROW horticultural therapy program on the rooftop garden at St Canice’s, an inner-city church in Sydney’s Kings Cross, she knew this was a great opportunity. She also knew she couldn’t evaluate the health effects, so turned to UTS academic and mental health nurse Fiona Orr.They understood just how broad the potential benefits could be. Approximately one in every five Australians experiences a mental illness. Mental health may be affected by individual or societal factors, including economic disadvantage, poor housing, lack of social support and the level of access to, and use of, health services.

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