Therapeutic Uses of Place (2007)

Hoey B A (2007) Therapeutic uses of place in the intentional space of community. In A. Williams ed. Therapeutic Landscapes. Hampshire, England, Ashgate. 297-314.

This chapter will explore the therapeutic uses of place within the intentional space of purposively created community. By tracing the history of the Northern Michigan Asylum from mental hospital, to its closing and recent adaptive-reuse as neo-traditional community, the chapter will present a detailed case of the intentional use of place for therapeutic purposes in community settings. Built during a period of sweeping social, cultural and structural changes in late 19th century America, the Asylum was founded on the reformist “moral” or “milieu” treatment approach of Thomas Kirkbride. Kirkbride espoused creating self-sustaining communities where the built environment together with a cultivated countryside became not only a sanctuary but also a healing instrument, a therapeutic landscape used to holistically restore health in persons believed to be psychically and physically unmoored by the chaos of modern life. Now, during another period of tremendous change, the intentional space of place-based community created for therapeutic purposes is mirrored in a New urbanist redevelopment project. By approaching this history from the perspective of cultural anthropology, this chapter offers a context for evaluating the potential experiential effects on everyday life of planning proposals to create “healthy places.” At the same time, it suggests opportunity for extending application of the therapeutic landscape concept.

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