Lily Jencks gives a talk for the Society of Architectural Historians at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow: "Maggie's Cancer Centre Gardens: Herbs, Habitat and a Search for Deep Meaning"
Gardens have provided therapeutic use for many centuries. Early physic gardens had an area for growing medical herbs called hortus medicus. Since the 1950s ecological sciences have foreground the importance of environmental health, with Ian McHarg’s seminal book Design with Nature insisting a healthy community is designed in harmony with its ecological setting, including non-human habitat. More recently gardens have been instrumentalised for hospital environments, as the view out to a garden has been proven to help patient recovery. Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres, originally founded by Charles Jencks, provide support for anyone affected by cancer. Designed by world-renowned architects and landscape architects, Maggie's Centres provide a carefully considered environment for the provision of complimentary Cancer treatments on National Health Services hospital sites. This paper will look at the gardens and architecture of four Maggie's Centres as a new typology for therapeutic design. There is mounting evidence that a landscape is a primary driver in the health and wellbeing of communities. Beyond considering therapeutic gardens as a place for growing herbs, or the creation of habitat, this paper considers that gardens can also be therapeutic in meaning and symbolism. As opposed to other landscapes such as wild reserves, or agricultural fields, a garden’s primary purpose is to delight humans. The possibilities of therapeutic gardens are to contain meaning that connect us to or place in the Universe.