Mischer’traxler Studio’s Floating Gardens Bring Peace and Healing

Understanding nature as a form of healing is perhaps as old as humans’ understanding of ourselves. Over centuries and millennia that implicit trust has ebbed and waned, but in the past decade or two, the trend towards seeking out nature as a source of health has steadily grown in mainstream Western thought. Today, there is a flourishing body of research amassing information on how compounds in plants and the earth itself can be used to create medicine, while more abstract processes like meditation gain traction as viable avenues of healing.

Photo: mischer’traxler studio

Across the world, different projects have and are continuing to take advantage of nature’s latent curative power, from City of Hope‘s carefully kept gardens in California to the stress-relieving benefits of forest bathing in Japan.

One project we came across recently was the collaboration between designers mischer’traxler studio and Martin Robitsch, curated by “think-and-do tank” Liquid Frontiers. The trio of innovators came together to build two installations (the fern yard, in the video below, and the water yard) for two courtyards at a residential care facility in Vienna.

The 20 sieves in the water yard and the 20 plants in the fern yard are suspended and move vertically through the space, passing the windows along different floors so that those with limited mobility can still appreciate the outdoors. Both the fern yard and the water yard have a cosmic calm about them, moving in a timed choreography whose scale seems to vastly outweigh our own. There is a sense of peace to be found in watching their smooth flow, a kind of meditative release.

Projects like the fern and water yards are an interesting, viable means of bringing natural healing to unexpected spaces, ones that enhance pre-existing architecture. Nature– and how and what is heals– doesn’t look one specific way; nature can heal through precisely isolated scientific compounds and through leisurely walks in the park. Often it is not just the body that must be treated, but the mind (and the soul) as well.

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