Later in life,
when we look back on difficult times past,
or perhaps while enduring current stress and personal disaster,
a simple, reflective route can be a useful tool in the therapeutic process.
And in this process, the labyrinth becomes the metaphor for the journey we have travelled or are to travel.
In a short and easy route you can begin to process the complicated past or envisage and rationalize the awkward future.
If that is too much to ask, perhaps you can at least distract yourself from the unpleasant present with reaching a recognisable and achievable goal.
Yes, the labyrinth is a stress buster whichever way you look at it!
No surprise therefore that labyrinths are increasingly being installed in hospices. For here people are facing the journey of all journeys.
The first labyrinth we designed was a pavement labyrinth for Weston Hospice:
An open surface of resin bonded gravel on which you could as easily hold a fund raising summer bash, but sufficiently intimate for therapy:
Grey blue sets embedded in the surface guide your journey about the space.
It is worth taking into account just how much space labyrinths can take up. Here, there was very little space, yet our brief was that the tramlines had to be wide enough to take a wheelchair. Imagine a central space for a wheelchair, the goal if you like, and allow for three circuits of a wheelchair around it. Space just gets eaten up!
Our current labyrinth project is altogether larger ( 25 metres across) since the hospice giving us this brief had larger grounds – any element you design into the landscape needs to feel appropriately scaled.
Essentially, the idea of it is a variant of the classic 3 circuit labyrinth.
A variant because we have allowed other paths to feed in – this is merely part of a much larger overall concept for the grounds.
And because it is not a pavement labyrinth. The interstices will be planted. And we therefore felt it important that should the patient not wish to complete the journey or should emergency access of any sort be needed there would be both an entrance and an exit and the ability to leave half way round! The central space allows for a seat to rest.
Once again the paths needed to be spacious. It was requested that bariatric wheelchairs could move around with a companion beside the chair rather than simply follow behind. So 2 metre wide paths are composed of resin bonded gravel, the precise colour of which will be mixed to our specification.
This smooth path (almost like cushioned flooring to walk on) takes a curvaceous route reminiscent of the twists and turns of a story. And also the convolutions of the human brain!
Like any project there are for the whole concept the limitations of budget, brief and space. It is tempting therefore to to cover within the labyrinth various other requests from the brief for the whole garden. And in this respect our cunning plan for the planting will be outlined in a later post.
Of course a design project is of itself a journey. And like any project its realization will also involve twists and turns.
We have client approval, funding is now secured and as with other sections of the overall concept plan this design is currently out to tender.
Watch this space!
Robert and Lesley.
Now do please check out the posts of our esteemed GDRT colleagues: