Innovation is a popular buzzword these days. I hear it all the time when I watch Shark Tank or read books about business. And this got me thinking, what is innovative about the way that we design outdoor space at Elements Studio?
Creating People Places
Elements Studio exists in order to create places that people are drawn to and where they desire to live their lives. We design spaces to inspire the people who experience them. What’s innovative about this, is that people are the primary inspiration behind our design process. The first question we ask is: How do people use this space now? The second question is: How will they use this space based on the proposed development? And the third question is: How can we make their experience memorable, positive and stress-free? These are the questions that enable us to let the user’s needs and experience inspire innovation in landscape architecture.
We use some really neat tools to achieve this – trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses – living things! By injecting life into outdoor spaces we create a more lively community. We also use hardscape materials like pavers, benches, seat walls, earthen berms, lighting and overhead elements. These items create places for people to walk, sit, and be sheltered while they enjoy the outdoor space.
What Innovative People Places Look Like
What’s really fun about this innovative approach to designing outdoor space for people is that it applies to every site that we design. Regardless of the site’s constraints or the client’s budget, when we design we think creatively on behalf of the people that will use the space.
When we were approached to develop a new landscape for a doctor’s office in West Michigan, we thought about the experience of going to the doctor. I can’t think of anyone I know that gets excited about a doctor’s appointment. If something is wrong with your body, that is a scary reality. When you transition from being a person to being a patient, your stress level automatically rises.
This knowledge inspired the landscape plan that we developed. We knew that healing doesn’t need to only happen inside the office walls. Our design could begin the restorative process as patients approach the building and interact with the healing landscape.
These particular offices have patients who come back on a regular basis. If we wanted the landscape to be effectively therapeutic, it would need to be dynamic. Something would need to change between visits so that the patients would be engaged whenever they came to the office. By staggering bloom times for the various plants and designing a unique bubbling water feature we achieved a refreshing experience.
The soothing sound of the bubbling water and the unexpected flowering plants attract patients’ attention. They often talk about the changing landscape with the office staff as they arrive for their appointment. No longer are they preoccupied with the stress of their pending doctor’s visit. Because of this innovative approach to landscape design, patients at this doctor’s office don’t mind making their next appointment. In fact, they might even look forward to coming back!
Innovation in Landscape Architecture
When we take an innovative approach to designing landscapes, we create places where people desire to live their lives. We brighten their moods, decrease their stress levels and create places that people are drawn to.