Healing in a War Torn Nation: Cultivating a Restorative Environment in Afghanistan
Author(s)Ball, Ryan P.
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AbstractThe Afghanistan world that many westerners imagine is one of a war-ravaged and depraved land littered with danger and peril where individuals struggle in daily survival. The concept is not too distant from the truth. Afghanistan has spent the better part of its history engaged in war both externally and internally. Constant turmoil has left the country in a state of social, political, ecological, and medical turmoil and stress. The country once again finds itself in a state of repair. Much of this effort is focused on fighting disease through increased healthcare and education. Many recent advances in healthcare have been due to the number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are now providing the majority of primary health services throughout Afghanistan (USAID, 2012). These organizations provide services that support the Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in their efforts to develop and improve access to healthcare ("Country Cooperation Strategy"). As western societies become more involved in the country, it becomes more important than ever to understand, respect, and preserve Afghanistan's variety of cultural heritage. Using a cultural sensitive approach rooted in contemporary sustainable construction methods will provide a framework for the development of new buildings and outdoor spaces. The field of landscape architecture continues to expand the scope of work finding new opportunities to integrate multi-disciplinary research as a tool to create and improve the health and well-being of people through thoughtfully designed outdoor environments. This study examines the functions and theory of restorative gardens, cultural issues that affect the design of outdoor environments, and provides an overview of the current healthcare situation in Afghanistan focusing on two of the most devastating diseases affecting Afghans, malaria and tuberculosis. Through research and the implementation of theory through design, the ideas and strategies of restorative gardens will be utilized to develop the site design of a healthcare complex in Takhar that includes malaria and tuberculosis clinics. This design will be realized using an integration of indigenous architecture and construction technologies with contemporary methods of sustainable construction.