CATIO - THERAPEUTIC GARDEN

 
COMPONENTS OF SENSORY DESIGN:
biophilic
design
environmental
interior design
evidence
based design

Evidence-based design,

or EBD, emphasizes
researching credible evidence to influence design. This approach is most popular in healthcare to improve health, safety, and well-being, however
it is now making inroads in all areas of design, including residential.

This is an educational site dedicated to raising awareness of trends, advancements, projects, and research in Sensory Design. Our goal is to assist designers, students, and caregivers in gaining insight on “the why” and “the how” of connecting sensory elements such as taste, touch, movement, smell, and sight with the principles of Biophilic and Environmental Design. Our hope is that this information will encourage "placemaking", creating a sense of community, and enriching the lives of seniors and those with special needs and emotional challenges so that daily activities become more enjoyable, functional, and sometimes even bearable.

Along with function
and beauty, the designer addresses such
environmental considerations as Indoor

Air Quality, Daylighting Principles, Lighting and other Comfort Controls,

and Acoustical Needs. Particular importance in the conscious decision
specification of sustainable
materials that encompass
accepted guidelines. 

In architecture, biophillic design is a strategy
that reconnects people
with the natural
environment. The term Biophilia means the love
of life or living systems that humans
subconsciously seek
and the possibility that
these connections are rooted in our biology.

The challenges of providing healing environments in institutional settings has been very rewarding but over the past several years it has become apparent that there is a real void in addressing design needs for those living at home with physical or mental challenges due to a disability, an injury, or simply due to aging. I believe this is because many healthcare designers, like myself, do not feel that residential design is our area of expertise while residential designers do not feel qualified to address healthcare challenges in the home. My passion is to bridge the gap by educating designers and caregivers so that they can confidently address these daily challenges through evidence and research based design in the home setting.

 

When my grandson, Knox, was born with Down syndrome and my brother, Butch, was released from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center with the orders to receive hospice care at home, I had a sudden awakening that my years of healthcare experience was of no use if I did not "bring it home". It was clear that my grandson and my brother were not going to get the help that I knew was out there to design a caring and healing space on a personal level if I did not step in and try. It was then that I took a sabbatical from my teaching and design practice to dedicate my time to the "Meet Knox" and "The Healing Garden” projects. These projects were designed to customize a space for my grandson to bring his therapy home and to create a place for my brother to have peace in his last days. I now know that through a collaborative effort between designers, therapists, and caregivers, amazing results can occur. After seeing such positive results with my own family members, I was convinced of the power of collaborative design and the therapeutic benefits of combining nature and tapping into the senses using evidence supported research.

 

For the past three years I have spent a great amount of time taking courses and attending seminars and conferences in order to educate myself more on Biophillic and Sensory Design principles and creating healing environments as to feel qualified to pass this information along with confidence. 

For 30+ years I have been a licensed designer and professor specializing in the design of interior and outdoor environments in healthcare and wellness settings and for those with special needs. Having obtained the advanced environmental design certification (LEED AP +ID) and the Evidenced Based Design Certification (EDAC), my designs solutions are always environmentally conscious and research based. I grew up with a physician and a creative writer so I have to thank my father for instilling in me the passion for healing and my mother for her creative spirit.

 

My bachelor's degree was in Art and Master's degree in Interior Design with an emphasis on healing environments.  My design firm, The Healthcare Pavilion, was located in the Design Center in Houston with a talented staff, medical design showroom, and product library dedicated to the medical center and architectural firm needs for the latest in healthcare products and design. For three years I had monthly programs for the healthcare and architectural community designed to bring experts in the medical field together with practicing professionals in the architectural and design fields to discuss design needs and trends in medicine. We had high monthly attendance to these informational programs. For the past 13 years, I have been a professor at the Art Institute of Houston while continuing my private design practice. 

 

Service Learning plays a critical role in the development of my design courses taught at The Art Institute.  Through service learning, design students are challenged with real projects from non-profits or groups that may not be able to afford to hire a design firm. This collaborative effort has created a true win-win situation and has received much good press and critical acclaim.  Service Projects has also been a passion of mine pairing qualified volunteer designers with non-profits such as The Ronald MacDonald House to fill a design need.

Diane Alexander, ASID, LEED AP+ID, EDAC

Practicing and Teaching Evidence Based Sensory Integrated Design Solutions that enrich lives and are kind to the environment

 
 

My workshops are created for specific purposes so participants get hands on experience. These work well with the current trend in schools to provide students the opportunity to delve into non academic topics and into groups and organizations wanting to gather for a shared learning opportunity.  Most workshops I write for others to administer and some I conduct.   

Continuing Education for Interior Designers and the general raising of awareness for students on topics related to the health and welfare of people and the planet.

I have been designing and contracting my own projects for years and now want to devote my time to seminars, workshops, and consulting on specific areas of my specialization. Consulting can be done by the hour or by the job, depending on the need. Collaboration on interesting projects such as grant research, therapeutic gardens, biophillic, and sensory integration for special needs and seniors is where my interest lies and environmental concerns are always at the core of my thinking. Send me a request and I will be estimate the time required. If I do not believe I will add value to your project or if I feel I can not be of service, I will be upfront.

therapeutic gardens

evidence based design

service

learning

biophilic design

environmental interior design

special

needs