Rainforest for Rehab

29 12 2008

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It’s no secret the Adelaide Botanic Gardens were founded on land adjacent to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, at the eastern end of North Terrace, as a therapeutic resource for patient convalescence, but it’s probably far less-known that Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide second largest hospital, has something similar, if on a smaller scale.

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The hospital, a teaching institution complimenting Flinders University, which crowns the hill at Bedford Park, was opened in 1976. The core buildings’ square planform (conceptually the same layout as the university’s main buildings) have open courtyard areas at their hearts. Thirty-three years on, one of these contains a fully-grown and developed artificial rainforest.

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Bricked walkways and picnic areas circle an artificial hill, from which waterfalls flow between towering trees, broadleaf plants and palm fronds, a haven for ducks and other birds which on any day entertain patients, staff and visitors with their antics. Often the only sound from the outside world will be the infrequent beat of the air ambulance approaching the landing pad.

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The garden is easily accessed from the main entrance and all visitors are welcome. Walk in from the bus exchange, go up the broad stairs to Level 2, pick up a snack at the coffee shop, and you’ll find the door to the garden just beyond the elevator shafts.

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It’s a pleasant place to kill an hour waiting for that connection, to read a magazine or have a coffee, and it’s a marvelous reminder that even large-scale urban development does not necessarily have to shut out the natural world.

Mike

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