This project is a healing center that incorporates earth and plants into its form and structure in order to create a completely sustainable space for wellness and healing. This is where farming and architecture meet. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through the process of photosynthesis into building interiors. In addition, horticultural techniques such as pleaching (interweaving living and dead branches) can aid in the treatment of mental illness and is employed as a healing strategy.
The United States is the second highest greenhouse gas emitting country globally, with 44.6% of energy usage; agriculture and building materials are the primary reasons for the high level of emissions. The built environment is the major contributing factor due to high energy use and high emissions, with a negative effect on climate. There is a huge impact on human physical and mental health due to climate change. The urban heat island effect, air pollution, water borne diseases, and threats to water resources and the food supply are causes of heat stress, heart attacks, respiratory diseases, malnutrition, forced migration, mental health problems, environmental refugees, over-crowding, and worldwide human conflicts.
More than 792 million people worldwide are suffering from mental disorders and unhealthy lifestyles. California’s wildfires destroy millions of homes and cause the evacuation of neighborhoods every year. These adverse effects of environmental problems become main reasons for anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress issues for Californians. Healing people and the environment with the aid of sustainable and biophilic design needs to be implemented in today’s architecture.
The site is located in Bakersfield, near Oil City in Kern county, California. Bakersfield is the highest polluted city in the United States with a hot climate, good natural resources, and thus a large amount of agricultural land that can help in healing the polluted environment. This is an ideal place for a healing center because the local people and environment are in need. The Kern River passes through the site, adding a benefit to the site condition. Healing is achieved through the connection of landscape and architecture for better living.
The design includes one of the nature’s most perfect organisms, trees, in buildings to let them breathe, create air flow, and cross-ventilate. The project integrates key sustainable strategies such as providing renewable energy using available resources like the sun, connecting to surrounding land with agriculture programs, and using biodegradable materials.