(Un)Cleanliness: Reclamation of Body and Site


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Virginia Tech


For me, architecture is a service--a way of helping people and the environment--and I wanted my thesis to reflect this idea. This thesis combines human rehabilitation and environmental remediation in order to study how these two types of healing interact. Specifically, the program of the building is a rehabilitation center for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) patients (who stereotypically have an obsession with order and cleanliness). Both the patients and the site are going through the process of healing, but they are doing so in ways that juxtapose each other: while the dirt, plants, and water on the site are made cleaner, the patients are undergoing therapy that helps them understand that it is okay to be "dirtier."

This brings into question what the terms "clean" and "dirty" really mean. Through my year-long research into OCD rehabilitation, environmental remediation, and the meaning of dirt, I came across a quotation that summed up this idea within my thesis. It came from the appropriately titled book, Dirt:

"A landscape architect's understanding of dirt--as a fertile medium--overturns the term's negative connotations to understand it as explicitly productive." (Born 8)

Therefore, my thesis explores dirt's productivity and challenges visitors' and patients' preconceptions of order and disorder. Overall, however, my goal was to create a project that allowed a forgotten, polluted site to be reclaimed by the city and for the patients, through therapy, to reclaim their lives.



rehabilitation, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dirt, phytoremediation