Week 09: Topiary Therapy

Recently I stumbled upon an article by Dr. Mark Rowe, an author and speaker on Wellness and Happiness. He was describing a beautiful new Greenway in Ireland, and expanded on the importance of “Green Exercise” and “Forest Bathing.”

At the end of a long work day, many of us lace up our sneakers and hit the treadmill or indoor gym. We could be getting so much more out of our exercise if we stepped outdoors to sweat.

So what on earth is Forest Bathing?? Japan coined the term Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku, in 1982 as part of a national public health program. This concept is so simple and yet so underrated. In order to practice forest bathing, all you need to do is wander along forest trails and surround yourself with nature.

This practice has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing. Doctor Rowe goes as far as to encourage practices such as these over prescription medication and modern medicine.

Case Study: A Forest Bath Retreat

Location: Nagano, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Architects: Kyoko Ikuta Architecture Laboratory

Japanese architecture is often beautifully simple, and understated. It is often this way so that the built environment does not compete or take away from the surrounding environment.

This Summer home by Kyoko Ikuta Architecture Laboratory acts as a canvas for the surrounding layers of woods to “paint” on. The triangular roof allows the residents to gaze up into the forest canopy, and windows are placed to capture the ever changing light and shadows from above. The clients for this project wanted a home where they could literally do nothing…and just be with the trees all day. I wish I had that level of patience.

Images courtesy of ArchDaily 

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