Healing Architecture for Troubled Nightowls: Restoring Natural Rhythms in Nocturnal U Street
This thesis is an exploration of architecture as an active participant in human life, not just as a stage. When architecture is considered a participant it contributes to the improvement of our quality of life as well as aiding the healing process when we fall ill. As more people are diagnosed with anxiety and sleep disorders, the thesis considered questions of how the places in which we carry out our day-to-day lives improve the prognosis and, further, can architecture be used as a powerful tool for healing? It is possible that our disconnection from nature is partially responsible for our disrupted sleep patterns and misplaced anxieties. Perhaps natural elements and rhythms are too absent in our daily urban lives. But as more of us move into cities and our urban centers become denser, designers must find clever ways to help city owls reset their circadian rhythm. Architecture can help reestablish that bond with nature. This thesis explores an architecture of healing by proposing a program and design that follows the day and night circadian rhythm of our bodies, which in turn follow the sun and other natural phenomena. Located in a tricky triangular site in one of the busiest nighttime neighborhoods of Washington DC, a wellness center and sleep clinic would allow city dwellers to find a peaceful oasis for healing. In parallel, this thesis is also a study of collage as a design tool, as well as designing from details and the human scale.