From the wintery depths of mental despair in the heart of poverty, comes the re-birth of hope through re-connection.
“Lente-geur” means “the aroma of spring” and The Lentegeur Spring Festival will be opening the hospital to the public, for a few days in September to share the future that we will become!
This future is the re-design of what a psychiatric hospital looks like, feels like, is and does, using the metaphor of spring (as the natural rebirth of hope) to transform it from a place of rejection into a centre of healing for individuals, communities and the environment.
The re-design of mental health care
Come to Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital on the impoverished Cape Flats and you’ll see what looks like a prison. The purpose of the Lentegeur Spring Project is to re-design what a psychiatric hospital looks like, feels like, is and does using ecological principles. Spring is about getting in touch with our roots as we blossom in the sunshine!
The metaphor of spring as the rebirth of hope through connection is brought to life through a series of strategies that involve the greening of our operations, the implementation of a landscape Masterplan, the development food gardening, recycling and other rehabilitation projects, a new connection to community that places us at the heart of its well-being and a program of cultural revival that celebrates our connection to this land!
Globally, the model of large institutions, to which the “insane” are removed, has become redundant. It is a model from an era when we thought that by separating things we could improve them. It is a way of seeing things that allowed us to separate as communities, to ignore our own impacts on those around us and upon this planet and it is a way that makes us feel powerless to change anything in a world from which we have become detached.
Yet healing does not occur in isolation, and when we reach out to those who are unwell, when we offer them a place in our lives, an opportunity to connect and the chance of hope, then recovery can begin! It is through connection that we honour each and every unique being that is equally a part of this whole and from this diversity arises the amazing array of possibility that means hope for us all!
A solid academic foundation
This project is a serious academic endeavor of the University of Cape Town and it is a flagship of the Western Cape Provincial Health Department. It is a project in the tradition of the Global Movement for Recovery in Mental Health, which has proven that the majority of people can and do recover from serious mental illness when given the right opportunities. This project is developing a new and unique way of bringing healing to individuals, communities and the environment and its legacy will be a city that is healing the scars of the past by connecting across the divides so that we all truly can shine!
Bridging the divides
For this World Design Capital (WDC) year we plan to share with the public, the reality that all this can become, with the Lentegeur Spring Festival, when for a few days we will open the hospital up to the public to celebrate the beauty and power of true healing.
The festival will include tours exhibiting the different forms of care on offer and examples of how these are transforming through the project, lectures, demos and exhibitions from a range of WDC projects on the better future we are designing and a series of cultural events that celebrate our connection to this beautiful land!
Making this festival happen will create a living model that will lead us to the future of our dreams and it will bring Cape Town World Design Festival 2014 to the Cape Flats in a way that will change peoples’ lives!