Experience-based cartography: lessons about the ecology of mental health

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


In the age of climate crisis, mental and environmental health are necessarily entwined. This paper reflects on the ecology of their relationship through the concrete examples found on the Estate De Grote Beek, the Netherlands. In the context of mental healthcare, perception, behaviour and governance are in their strongest as ecological agents. This paper is based on an ongoing design-based research of the Faculty of Built Environment at the Eindhoven University of Technology for GGz De Grote Beek – a mental health facility accommodated at a 117hA urban park in Eindhoven, with 2000 staff, serving 13000 clients. The project explores spatial and narrative strategies that can inform the site’s transformation as a sustainable, healing environment. The aim of the project is to generate new pathways for the site’s development and to visualise these in architectural scenarios. This paper focuses on the following three pairs of environmental and mental aspects that define the functioning of the Estate De Grote Beek.
Landscaping and Behaviour: Inability to control behaviour triggers the increase in attention to landscape maintenance.
Landmarks and Healing: At each stage of therapy the clients regain independence and access to new activities and places – those become landmarks and symbols of becoming well.
Fragmentation and Fear: Like barriers and fences, disturbances such as noise and traffic, enforces the fragmentation in the way the landscape is perceived.The object of this reflection is a collection of 56 maps that visualise the ground conditions of the site, the clients and visitors that inhabit it, the institution that governs it, and the narratives that connect the three. This selection of topics is described, and conclusions are drawn on the intertwined conditions of mental and environmental health in urban green areas.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2019
EventArchitecture Media Politics Society (AMPS) Conference: Experiential Design – Rethinking relations between people, objects and environments - Florida State University, Florida, United States
Duration: 16 Jan 202017 Jan 2020


ConferenceArchitecture Media Politics Society (AMPS) Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • landscape
  • Planetree
  • mental health
  • architecture
  • ecology
  • design
  • cartography


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  • Experience-based cartography: Observations on the ecology of mental health

    Dimitrova, K. O., Bekkering, J. D. & Schröder, T. W. A., 17 Dec 2020, Experiential Design – Rethinking relations between people, objects and environments. McLane, Y. & Pable, J. (eds.). Tallahassee, Florida, p. 190-198 9 p. (AMPS PROCEEDINGS SERIES; vol. 18.2).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

    Open Access

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