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Researching the Benefits of Open Spaces Sacred Places

Over the past 15 years, the TKF Foundation has provided grants to support the design and construction of over 130 public greenspaces that foster peace and encourage reflection. The users and creators of these “sacred places” have noted significant positive responses when people spend time at these sites — some even describe transformational experiences. To verify such anecdotes and provide a better understanding of how these spaces contribute to human health and well-being, TKF’s latest award program includes a research component. 

tkf-umdIn 2012, the TKF Foundation will begin the Open Spaces Sacred Places National Awards Initiative. This new program will fund the creation of sacred spaces designed with the intent to study and communicate the impact this type of urban public greenspace has on users.

“While we know intuitively and anecdotally that nature heals, unifies and uplifts the human spirit, TKF believes there is a growing need to complement these insights with empirical evidence in order to gain wider acceptance, advance understanding, influence policy, and effect systems change.”

The research aspect of the grant program will engage a community of social scientists to apply high quality, rigorous research approaches to generate more complete knowledge about the benefits and impacts that result from user experiences. The findings, including economic valuations of benefits, can become the basis of messages about why it is important to invest in greenspace close to where people live, work, and learn.

From a total funding pool of $5 million, grants will be awarded  to cross-disciplinary teams that conceptualize, plan, design and implement a physical space, conduct associated research study(s) and disseminate findings. More details can be found at

With this unique research initiative, TKF demonstrates thought leadership and will directly contribute to our collective body of knowlege on landscape performance.

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