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Alma Restoration Garden
In Latin and in Spanish, the word alma translates to nourish and soul. These definitions were central to the creation of the Alma Restoration Garden, located between Vancouver’s Point Grey and Kitsilano neighbourhoods at the intersection of Alma & W Broadway. Once a Chevron gas station, now a rather derelict community garden space, my intention was to create a space of healing and of nourishment, for the earth and for the human soul in tandem. Covid-19, in all its devastation, was instrumental in illuminating the failures of urban living and thus potential of the urban realm. My research indicated elevated levels of stress, anxiety, and loneliness throughout Vancouver, mass income polarization and inequity of access to green space in these neighbourhoods specifically, and soil contamination on site. The Alma Restoration Garden offered respite to such conditions by providing a safe space for introspection, relaxation, and gathering within a lush, transportive garden space. These design moves were based on elements of restorative and sensorial design theory, such as prospect refuge, fascination, and exploration, in addition to experiences of touch, of colour, and of sound. Additionally, I drew inspiration from several designers including Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart Smith, which resulted in a captivating mixture of ornamental grasses, pollinator friendly perennials, and evergreen shrubs scattered throughout the strolling garden. There are significant benefits to wildness, greenness, and biodiversity when it comes to stress and restoration, and this planting scheme - whether they are simply passing through or intentionally taking a longer stroll - allows the visitor to lose themselves in the calmness and pleasure of the urban garden.