Nature that Nurtures – Designing with nature for health and wellbeing

Victoria Park – Visionary Ideas

‘Spending time with nature offers us all precious breathing space away from the stresses and strains of modern life, it enables us to experience joy and wonder, to slow down and to appreciate the wildlife that lives side-by-side with us’.

Sir David Attenborough, July 2019,

Conrad Gargett is proud to present ‘Nature that Nurtures’ as a visionary idea for the anticipated redevelopment of Victoria Park from a Golf Course into a public park.

While nature in a park seems an obvious choice and certainly is not revolutionary in this context the emphasis on designing with nature to improve people’s health and wellbeing is less usual. Like Olmsted’s grand vision of Central Park to improve the health of New Yorkers in the industrial era the ‘Nature that Nurtures’ concept strongly seeks out the benefits of designing with nature for our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing as a counterbalance to our busy and often stressful city lives.

Tree House


(Image above: Architectural elements featuring natural materials offering authentic nature experiences. Inspired by farrow partners’ architects tree house design) 

The concept ‘Nature that Nurtures’ is deeply rooted in the love of nature and the belief that human beings are part of nature. We can learn much from designing with nature and thereby reap the benefits this brings with it. We know that even short-term exposure to nature can refocus our attention and rejuvenate our ability to learn, make decisions and generally improve productivity.

Parks designed with nature also promote physical activities in nature benefiting both our physical and mental health through relaxing experiences while keeping our bodies healthy and our mind refreshed. Physical exercise is a great antidote to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and social isolation. The revitalised Victoria Park will be a hub for people to meet, exercise and recharge the batteries in their busy everyday lives.


Nature Creek

(Image above: Water features that contribute to natural and cultural environments and ecosystem services)

Authentic design and execution, relating to Brisbane’s subtropical climate and lifestyle, the site’s topography, geology and vegetation are fundamental considerations in achieving the desired outcome. The ‘Nature that Nurtures’ scheme is supportive of local ecological systems and how these can be used and modified to enrich the ‘urban’ environment and experiences for visitors. The ultimate goal is long-term sustainability with biodiversity being regarded as a general indicator of the health of people and planetary health.

We can learn much from designing with nature and thereby reap the benefits this brings with it.

Tree Walk

(Image above: Design with nature for active transport – materials and nature loving design)

An inclusive Victoria park design considers the cultural heritage of the place and the relationship of the first nation people to the Victoria Park precinct. We know of the cultural significance and important camping ground of York’s hollow to indigenous traditional owners of the Brisbane region, in particular those from the north. Acknowledgement of their connection to country and cultural contribution is paramount. Inclusive also refers to other ethnic groups and their needs and to people of all abilities and age groups.

Bush Walk

(Image above: Park environments for human wellbeing – biodiversity as an indicator for people and planetary  health)

The ability of nature to heal itself while nurturing human health is the fourth key design principle of the ‘Nature that Nurtures’ concept. The idea to use nature to nurture human health is not new and has been documented over time and more recently by Claire Cooper-Marcus and the Kaplans. Hildegard of Bingen a German mystic, healer, artist and philosopher promoted exactly that concept in the 10th century in what she called ‘Viriditas – the greening power of the Divine’.

The ‘Nature that Nurtures’ concept was visualised in the Conrad Gargett poster after lively discussions in our Brisbane design studio. Conrad Gargett’s expertise and experience in designing therapeutic landscapes in healthcare settings assisted greatly in the development, articulation and visualisation of the concept.

Brisbane City Council is currently receiving feedback for the Victoria Park Visionary Ideas. Please follow the link below and let us know what you think!

Have your say here.

Victoria Park Ideas Board