wonderland garden

for children with autism spectrum disorder

group members:
Karen Muscat, Lyna Loumi & Nadine Zammit

This project is a garden designed within a residential care centre for children living with autism spectrum disorder. The aim was to provide a playful and explorative environment which doesn’t overwhelm and overstimulate the children.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects how a person communicates and behaves.

Individuals with ASD also experience difficulty in processing everyday sensory experiences, and their senses may often be over- or under-sensitive, and this tends to have a profound effect on how they feel and act.

Therefore in designing for people with ASD, it's important to be sensitive about acoustics, light, allowing for escape spaces  in cases of overstimulation, designing with no edges, and with smooth materials which don’t provide excess unintentional stimulation.

In the design process, sensory inputs should be a constant consideration; carefully adjusting space to create the right sensory sequencing, transitions and zoning, as well as allowing for them to escape if they feel overwhelmed.

These design guidelines are part of the ASPECTSS design index (Mostafa, 2014).

     transition spaces
interaction and play
sensory spaces  

The main theme of the project revolves around the story of Alice in Wonderland, drawing inspiration from several elements of the narrative. Lewis Carroll wrote the story in 1865 and is thought to have had neurodivergent character traits common in people with autism. The experience created through the design of Wonderland is a journey through the story of Alice, with three main themes materialised in the design.

plan at +1.2m showing the different areas of the garden

plan at +0.2m showing all areas where children can escape to and explore

The flow plan indicates the different paths, as well as the areas mentioned which are either hyper sensory or have physical stimuli. It also marks the different entry and exit points. An arcade is implemented within the residential units themselves, which enables a loop the children may use to access the space between internal and external spaces.

section a - a’

section b - b’

section c - c’

vegetation mapping

Everlasting Perennial shrubs and flowers were used in the sensory garden, organising the flowers by roughly following the colors of the rainbow, to give it a logical visual sequence that could makes sense for a child on the spectrum. This sequence would also help to prevent over visual stimulation.

The everlasting perennial shrubs would enable to garden to be active for prolonged periods during the year, and are largely indigenous. While the gardening patch is used to teach kids skills of planting and taking care of plants such as tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and a variety of herbs.


m.arch, year 1 semester 2
realities in architecture

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