L.I.F.E. Landscape: A Co-created Healing Environment for Vulnerable Maasai Youth
Scherrer, Katherine Marie
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My thesis project focuses on co-creating a design for a children’s home with a school, community center and healing garden for vulnerable Maasai children. The co-creation approach to the design process implies that the design and the project cannot be done without engagement from the local community in which the center will be built. According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey of 2015, 18% of girls between the ages of 15-19 have given birth or are currently pregnant with their first child. For a number of years, this particular Maasai community has wanted a children’s home to address their ongoing need to accommodate a high number of orphaned and vulnerable children suffering the effects of cultural practices such as polygamy and female genital mutilation (FGM). Compounding these children’s health issues are ongoing challenges of sanitation and malnutrition and more recently, prolonged droughts affecting livestock herds which provide the primary income and food source for the Maasai. With factors identified in the co-creation workshops held in December 2015 and March 2016, the project examines how the co-creation design process can be used to facilitate access to modern systems that can improve the ecology and community health of the region. Given that environmental health and human well-being are intrinsically linked, this participatory design process aims to incorporate salutogenic principles. This was a community-initiated co-creation design process which established a foundational development model that more fully responds to the needs of this Maasai group. The process builds a relationship between the community, children’s health needs and landscape design, and potentially offers a successful model for other communities to adopt. The process uses criteria for co-creation health design, incorporating partnerships between the designers and the community. The intent of this masterplan is to guide the implementations of building a resilient healing landscape environment that will encompass a children’s home.