Inspiration in an ancient symbol


The 'Flower of Life' is an ancient geometric symbol which we came upon during our research for the USpace courtyard.

Throughout history, the tessellating pattern of circles has had relevance to the natural world around us. It has provided us with explanations on how things work, from the human body and the makeup of plants to distant galaxies. Even molecular and cellular structures are based on this principle (the first cell divides into two cells, then to four cells then to eight).

The symbol itself is created with one central circle onto which a series of identical circles are added to create an interlocking pattern. The overlapping circles resemble 'petals' and multiply and burst into a larger circular flower shape. The perfection of the greater circle and the smaller circles within it work beautifully together to form something unified and strong.

Given the project was based in a mental health facility for young people, the form and ideas behind this pattern resonated with us, reiterating the importance of the individual and the communicant and the individual within that community. 

The symbol made its way into our design very early on, when we were researching and developing design concepts, we came across the 'Flower of Life' time and time again. Conceptually, it tied in with what we were trying to achieve so perfectly and we could see it could have lots of applications and give the space a sense of calm, security, and, like the chairs, further promoted a sort of 'opening up' within the patients. Additionally and importantly, we knew it would give the garden a sense of wholeness and provide us with an overall guide in our design process.

And of course we couldn't have done it without the amazing design and engineering skills of the wonderful Duncan and Natalia from Broadcroft Design. Once again they cleverly interpreted and tackled our design brief and incorporated the 'Flower of Life' on the love bench seat for our USpace Youth Mental Health courtyard design at St Vincent's Private Hospital. Not only has it been perfectly cut out of the timber seat, but it also casts a most gorgeous shadow underneath, just to to top it off!

Barbara Landsberg