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This study investigates the design and use of sensory gardens in two special schools by evaluating their zones and how they are utilised, especially by children with special needs, and the staff who care for them. Preliminary site studies were undertaken in fourteen sensory gardens around the UK, followed by more detailed data collection at two case-study sites. The aim was to find out the features and issues that are common in sensory gardens. The data collection included interviews, behavioural observation, which was used in conjunction with affordance theory. Drawing on Moore and Cosco’s
approach (2007), the findings from the data analysis discuss the researcher’s main findings: The layout of the circulation network enables user behaviour and use of area, have the highest number of users; and users spent a longer time in zones where sensory, rather than aesthetic values were emphasised. A subset of design recommendations had been produced that will be applicable to across all (or most) sensory gardens.
Keywords: Aesthetics, affordance, design, pathway, sensory, sensory garden, use.