Patients with psychiatric disorders have a lower quality of life because of societal stigmatization. This social inequality can be seen in discrimination, social judgments, and local beliefs. Due to these concerns, potential patients decline mental health medical treatment. Current and recovered patients find it difficult to gain social acceptance.
The psychiatric hospital’s new positive image must be addressed to reduce negative social stigma. Encouraging this transition through improving landscape design public awareness is crucial. This change focuses on three user groups:
1. Long-term patients: Recovering in restricted spaces contributes to a low healing rate.
2. Potential patients: hesitant to enrol because of social stigma and an unwelcoming environment.
3. Public users: avoid relationships to mental health services out of social stigma fear, which results in the division between patients and the public.
The landscape design for Somdej Chao Phraya Institute of Psychiatry aims to enhance positive public attitudes toward mental illness patients and the psychiatric hospital’s image. Milieu therapy, divided into two phases: ongoing treatment and post-treatment, is integrated into the core of the design concept by providing safe and supportive therapeutic environments.
During the treatment process, natural therapeutic gardens promote green healing spaces. In the post-treatment program, Milieu therapy promotes social interaction and communication skills, preparing patients for a smooth reintegration into society after their recovery.
Emphasizing social outdoor activities is an important concept of Milieu therapy; however; the existing green spaces could not facilitate outdoor activities due to unfriendly, confined environments. The team uses the Milieu concept to generate a new language of therapeutic landscape design across the scales.
Microscale, the team opened this courtyard by removing the enclosed corridor structure while preserving an existing tree. The team maximized the opening void that offered a visual connection to outdoor spaces by changing solid walls into mirror materials. Patients can interact in outdoor social spaces surrounded by five-sensory healing environments.
Mesoscale, the design focuses on improving recovering patients and public relationships. Social community and career training spaces allow patients to work in the hospital’s shop, which prompts them back into society. The team re-arranged the architectural plan to encourage more possibilities for patients and the general public to interact socially regarding visual appeal and accessibility. Milieu’s approach promotes a variety of spaces that can facilitate small social interaction and therapeutic group activities.
Macroscale, reducing physical and emotional barriers while aiming to improve relationships between communities and patients are focused. The team erased these segregation boundaries by exposing the building and connecting it to outdoor green spaces. Ultimately, the new courtyard design will connect fragmented green spaces in the overall masterplan, which will holistically integrate Milieu therapy across the site’s landscape design and expand to the district’s green space network.
After the opening, this courtyard received positive feedback from public recognition. Restructuring public belief in the hospital’s negative image requires effort and time; however, this design will be a starting point to underpin public attention, which later will bring a positive ripple effect to society.
Somdej Chao Phraya Institute of Psychiatry
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Client: Somdej Chao Phraya Hospital Foundation under the Royal Patronage of H.R.H. Princess Sirindhorn
Landscape Architect: Redland-scape.Ltd
Engineer: Phiphitchan Co.,Ltd
Photographer: Mr.Rungkit Charoenwat by Redland-scape.Ltd