Local landscaper greens hospital

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While Hamilton’s Braemar Hospital was closed for the Christmas break, a transformation took place on its upper floor thanks to a Tamahere landscaper.

The courtyard created within the hospital

In two weeks, a courtyard, previously almost devoid of plant life, was turned into a green sanctuary, with Nikau palms, native grasses and river rocks.

Braemar, the first green-rated hospital in New Zealand, commissioned Tamahere landscape designer Mark Sherson, of Higher Ground Landscapes, to come up with a design that would be simple, manageable and with an “X factor” in keeping with the hospital’s design and layout.

The private hospital seeks to have an environment more akin to a restful hotel than a traditional hospital and also has a commitment to a “green” environment. The first NZ hospital be be green-rated it has a comparative rating of 4 out of a possible five stars based on an Australian green-rating system.

Sherson, who had previously done work on Braemar’s entranceway, said the latest job was logistically challenging.

“Every item had to be transported by service lifts to the first floor. That meant more than 100 trips transporting river rocks, sand, plants and paving stones.”

Tonnes of product was transported by trolley, barrow and by hand.

Sherson said the design was simple and in keeping with Braemar’s brief, focusing on “natural colours, native plants and geometric paving.”

Braemar chief executive Paul Bennett said Sherson provided “a perfect mix of listening to the client, adding value with his design ideas and providing concept plans that fit the brief.”

“We love the finished design. It is amazing.”

The 150sq m space was first lined with a waterproof membrane protection to protect the existing waterproofed surface. Pre-built timber platforms were used as a base for the pavers. The quadrants between the pavers were filled with medium river stones and 400 native plants (Phormium and carex), creating the impression of a geometric garden. Large river stones (up to 100mm) and Nikau palms were added as larger visual features. Climbers have been planted alongside the base of large free-standing screens that give privacy to patients with rooms bordering the courtyard.

The work had to be completed within a fortnight while Braemar was closed for the Christmas break.

Sherson said it was a marathon effort to complete it on time. “It was hard to estimate the time it would take to transport all the elements to the site. In the end we finished the day before Braemar was due to open again.”

He says he is pleased with the finished work. “It gives the impression of full-depth landscaping. In reality all plants are contained in pots.”

The environment’s role in the delivery of patient care is well-documented and is a subject of growing interest to hospital planners, transforming how hospitals are designed and built. Views of nature and access to natural light are known to reduce stress and promote healing, offering “pleasurable distractions.”

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