A Place of Wellbeing in Architecture: A Mental Health Museum

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Virginia Tech


Life is meant to be lived with happiness and joy, but what happens when you don't feel as if you're living, and your life feels worthless and filled with sadness? When your daily routine is disrupted? When things go left instead of right? The mental state of many individuals has progressively worsened over the past few years. There are many reasons for this. One being the overwhelming use of mobile devices and living within a digital world which has isolated us from people and communities. This thesis addresses the lack of human interaction and community support through the design of a mental health museum. The project creates a place whose program provides spaces that support wellbeing while designing a museum that explores the issues and history of mental health. The museum provides these spaces that focus on the journey towards a state of well being. While not instantaneous, the journey within the museum is both physical and psychological. The journey within the museum is experienced through a series of ramps that flow through the building, acting as a transition from one exhibit space to the other. The ramps allow the visitors to slowly move between galleries, providing time to walk and, perhaps, reflect and understand the contents of the exhibits, as well as to benefit the visitors in other ways. One of the overarching goals for the museum was to create a safe space or spaces for those who visit. As well as a journey that becomes one of mindfulness and consists of learning, reflecting, engaging, and decompressing from the stress of living in today's world. The thesis and museum addresses four ideas: Learning through exhibits and talks hosted in the lecture hall or resources within the bookstore. Reflecting while traveling to the next gallery space, or on the rooftop garden. Engaging in wellness areas through interactive displays, galleries, or use of a wellness room. Decompressing within the planted areas and green spaces intertwined with the museum's journey and the adjacent woodland with its walking trail to the nearby community garden. This thesis opens up a conversation about mental health through the design of the museum to spark the topic as a positive, encouraging and natural subject of discussion.



mental health, wellbeing, mindfulness, museum, journey, learning, reflecting, engaging, decompressing