Mai Ann T

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

David Hopman


Refugee populations suffer from the effects of post traumatic stress disorder (Shannon, et al., 2014), and members struggle with feelings of helplessness, displacement and marginalization. Research indicates that healing landscapes can address the needs of those suffering from trauma and mental disorders, particularly war veterans and children. This research applies to the emotional needs of refugees settling in new countries (Murray, et al., 2010). For the displaced, creating meaning in their new environment is an essential part of the adjustment process (Brabec, 2018). This thesis draws upon documented research about how landscape experiences can mitigate the effects of trauma in post-disaster contexts and how such experiences can contribute to positive emotional and social developments. Prior to the research, the researcher helped to design the first phase community garden for a local refugee community in Dallas, Texas in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The garden is located at the Central Lutheran Church in Dallas, Texas. In addition to examining relevant research and case studies, the researcher conducted surveys and open-ended interviews with resettled refugees in the Dallas metroplex area, to record and understand their unique emotional needs, as well as their responses to the garden installation thus far. Using these findings and employing methods of post occupancy evaluation, as well as participatory charrettes with the garden users, the researcher applied this information in an improved, evidence-based design and recommendations to be implemented for future phases. The design proposal was communicated through a rendered site plan and several rendered perspective views. These recommendations were then reviewed by the research participants via photo elicitation, and further recommendations were made based on the gardeners’ feedback. The findings provide insight on how landscape experiences, such as food gardening, can improve the emotional well-being of refugee communities. Most importantly, the findings of these procedures provide valuable insights into how landscape architects can respond to the needs of refugees by facilitating the healing process, empowering the displaced, and helping restore a sense of community for this vulnerable demographic.


Refugees, Landscape architecture, Community gardening, Trauma, PTSD, Therapy, Nature therapy, Food gardening, Placemaking


Architecture | Landscape Architecture


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington