Butterfly Garden & Overlook

The Butterfly Garden and Overlook


Cunningham Park, Joplin MO
Funded by the TKF Foundation – Open Spaces, Sacred Places Grant
Design by Drury University, Hammons School of Architecture

View Larger Map

How was the design conceived? 
The design of the Butterfly Garden and Overlook recreates the outline of three homes erased by the 2011 Joplin tornado, provides a pavilion, water features, storyboards, a butterfly garden and four sacred spaces with benches and journals that provide a space for which to reflect and heal.

The design weaves together four main conceptual design ideas derived from Worden’s four tasks of Mourning with the four elements of every TKF Open Space Sacred Place. These tasks describe the means by which a healthy person works through the pain of grieving for a loved one or something lost, and moves into the next phase of life. Architectural and natural elements symbolically represent the tasks as a person moves through the gardens.

During the May 22, 2011 tornado over 8,500 homes were erased from the Joplin. The design suggests “penciling in” the outline of 3 homes that were destroyed on the site of the gardens. This metaphorical sketch of the homes responds to Worden’s first task, accepting the reality of the loss and our assignment of that task, the Portal. Visitors will pass through the same location of what was the portal of the lost home, the front door.

The Path takes the visitor on a journey around the site allowing for Processing the Pain of Grief and promoting reflection.

There are four areas that act as destination along the path and provide a space to Adjust to a World Without the Deceased (or what was lost). All four spaces include benches, a small bubbling water feature and journals, and in addition, the fourth has a water wall tiled with drawings made by local children adding hierarchy to the space and tranquil sound to the experience. All of the water features represent the renewal of the community.

Along with eleven native Missouri shade trees and native plantings the unifying circle of the “Butterfly Garden” provides an encompassing sense of boundary, safety and enclosure within the OSSP. At the Overlook, the “outline” of the house also acts as surround; plaques telling the story of the tornado will educate future generations on the destruction, acts of heroism, survival and the Miracle of the Human Spirit while providing an enduring connection to the deceased (or what was lost). We move on but don’t forget.