Virtual Reality, Healing Garden, After Alhambra Palace in Granada

Virtual Reality, Healing Garden, After Alhambra Palace in Granada

above: VR, Healing Garden, detail

Healing Garden, Virtual Reality, 2017

Healing Garden is a virtual reality project that I envisioned in 2017 after the medicinal botanical gardens of the Alhambra Palace in Andalusia, Spain. Andalusia was the birthplace of The Herbal, which is one of the most remarkable manuscripts of medicinal botany in the middle ages. The book was composed by the 12th c. Andalusian physician and scholar al-Ghafiqi and was copied and read by many healers and physicians throughout the following centuries. Wearing a VR headset, participants “enter” the Healing Garden, which is a courtyard with white arches, and ten plant beds around a water fountain on a floor that is covered with Moorish tiles. They use their own hands to pick a series of medicinal plants and arrange them in the plant beds. Thus, they create a virtual garden as a metaphor for reconnecting with nature for healing. The plants are modeled after my screen-printed images on paper, which were inspired by al-Ghafiqi’s illustrations in The Herbal. Water and fountains were integral parts of medieval Islamic gardens and palaces of Andalusia. The sound of water fountains and the moving reflections of buildings, trees, and flowers on its rippling surface contributed to a unique, calming experience for the residents. Similarly, in my VR Healing Garden, participants have the opportunity to listen to the sound of the water fountain. The participant can then “walk” on the glowing Moorish tiles under the sun and pass through the Moorish arcades and enjoy her/his handcrafted garden from a short distance.

Healing Garden, Virtual Reality, 2017

Healing Garden, Virtual Reality environment after final rendition

Healing Garden, 2017, 3-D modeling for Virtual Reality
3-D Modeling by Pedram Karimi

Fountain, 3-D Modeling for the VR by Cyril Zabala

The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose hosted the Healing Garden VR,
November 2017

The Euphrat Museum of Art at De Anza College hosted the Healing Garden VR,
December 2017


Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in GranadaAndalusiaSpain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. The below photos are taken in August of 2017, when I traveled to Granada and saw the palace for the first time. 

Alhambra Palace, one of the gardens and the valley around the fortress, Aug. 2017, Granada, Andalusia, Spain
Photos: Courtesy of Pantea Karimi
I used these photos to construct the environment for Healing Garden VR.