Pollack, Shelby Marie
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The mental health crisis is one of the many pandemics that the world is facing. For years it has been something that has been looked down upon as something that only people in mental institutions deal with, but in fact it is much more widespread than previously thought. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light the many struggles that people face and has led to a push for a focus on healing these invisible ailments. Often we think of doctors as the people who are responsible for anything health related, but as people spend a vast majority of their time indoors, that responsibility really falls on architects. The design world seems to support this theory as trends have led towards the incorporation of more natural elements into buildings, often referred to as, 'biophilia' and 'wellness' principles. While we enjoy the views of nature and fresh air in our daily lives, there is also scientific evidence to prove that these elements are beneficial to the physical and mental health of living beings. Thus, as architects we have the ability to go beyond creating a merely visually appealing and functionally operating spaces, and should use our skills to create environments that have a positive impact on the users' well-being. For this thesis, I redesigned the way in which group homes are designed for teens in Foster Care with these principles in mind. Teens are often the hardest to place with families, as many foster parents don't want to deal with the effects that childhood trauma has had on these individuals, so many of them end up in group homes. These institutions often provide resources, but unfortunately lack the individualized attention and home-like feeling that living with a family does, in the best-case scenario. It has been my mission to design a place that provides the residents with the comforts of a home, as well as wellness and nature-based spaces to ensure that they have the time and space to heal and grow.
General Audience Abstract
Many teens in foster care end up in group housing. While these spaces provide shelter and the ability for social workers to stop by, they lack the consistent support and resources of living in a home with a family. My thesis dives into what makes a new space feel like home and how various methods of architecture and interior design can integrate therapeutic elements into living spaces used by teens to help them heal from childhood trauma. The existing building (Bundy School) contains an organization called Safe Shores, which provides children with a safe space to report abuse; it gives them access to legal, forensic, and mental health resources to help them get justice and handle the trauma that they have been through. The existing building doesn't currently provide any housing resources for the victims. My thesis is a renovation of the existing office spaces, as well as the addition of a new building providing housing for teens in foster care, victims of abuse, or any teens who are in need of housing in a long or short term capacity.
- Masters Theses