July 23, 2012
The “Healthy Outdoor Garden Oasis,” an urban garden created by students and faculty from the Westphal College, is now open at the Mantua Presbyterian Apartments. This six month project was completed by nineteen Architecture + Interiors students participating in a two term course taught and coordinated by Architecture +Interiors Professor D.S. Nicholas and co-taught by Adjunct Professor Andrew Cronin of Kieran Timberlake, an internationally known Philadelphia architectural firm. Students designed and coordinated the garden and then built planters and furniture for the space. The goal was to create a therapeutic urban oasis for senior residents of the affordable housing building. Residents offered input on the garden’s design and creation through multiple onsite community meetings with the students and instructors. One of the main goals of the project was to encourage seniors to be more active and enjoy the outdoors, and the students were able to meet this need by incorporating garden pathways for residents to stroll outside. Sina Nassiri, a Biomedical Engineering student, advised the students about current literature on aging and the needs of the elderly.
The project was made possible by a $20,000 Drexel University Community Research Grant awarded to Professor Nicholas and is being co-sponsored by the Office of University and Community Partnerships, Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, Pennoni Honors College and the Office of Research.
Opened in 2008 in the Mantua section of West Philadelphia, Mantua Presbyterian Apartments is a 66-unit affordable housing building for seniors of low income, developed by Presby’s Inspired Life, a Lafayette Hill-based non-profit provider of continuing care and affordable housing for seniors. The building is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 202 project.