Plant-based medicines seem to be making a comeback, as more people turn to ancient methods for boosting immunity, soothing symptoms, and treating a wide variety of illnesses. The centuries-old practice of growing medicinal herbs in ‘physic garden’ is also coming back, with assistance from Swedish architecture firm Sweco. The firm’s landscape designer created a meditative medicinal garden based on medieval methods. Ironically, the garden is located on the new campus of pharmaceutical company Novartis. Does this mean big pharma will start taking cues from herbal medicine?
Thorbjörn Andersson is the brilliant landscape designer behind the architectural firm’s ancient garden at the drug company’s new building in Basel, Switzerland. Situated in a large courtyard just outside the building, the recessed garden was designed as a large rectangle with rows upon rows of medicinal herbs and flowers, divided by narrow paver paths. Two elevated walkways cut diagonally over the planting area, more for visual effect than function. When the garden is in full summertime bloom, it’s a colorful spectacle of purple echinacea, white chamomile, and orange calendulas.
In total, the garden boasts over 70 varieties of medicinal plants, intermingling with one another just as they would have in an ancient physic garden. The garden is meant to be a symbolic representation of the history of medicine and a reminder to workers at this global pharmaceutical company.
The garden is lined with benches, tables, and small chairs, as well as a border of greenery, making for an overall setting that is more park-like than not, despite the adjacent parking lot. Throughout the garden, signs identify the blooming botanicals and scattered water sculptures offer inspiration for contemplative moments. A small collection of beehives sits at one end of the garden, enabling resident bees to pollinate the medicinal plants and keep the garden growing.
Via Fast Co
Images via Jan Raeber for Sweco