The ‘Invisible’ Dialogues – Mental Health & Our Built Environment
Instructors: Bianca Gill
Mental Health issues are usually narrated through clinical or academic lenses which can sometimes feel distant, stigmatizing or disempowering. As Architects to-be, designers of spatial quality and constructors of our environment, we need to listen to the ‘invisible’ dialogues from people who are side-lined and think how our Built Environment can be reimagined for the sustainability of our social and urban fabric.
In this studio, you will be diving deep into questions surrounding Mental Health & our Built environment and explore ways to modify/ craft experiences that enhances mental wellness.
There will be 5 main stages to this design process:
1) Identify a mental health issue that you are interested in and explore in a group of 2-3 pax.
2) Pick a unique persona each to study. We will be adopting a ‘Photovoice’ method to document and understand how the environment affects the person you’ve chosen to study.
3) Rigorous journey maps/ interviews/ workshops to identify aspects of the site and elements in the built environment you wish to tackle. Form a compelling problem statement. Choose a site/ space most relevant to the selected persona.
4) Develop your design/ intervention through dialogues with professionals.
5) Present how your design/ intervention can improve the mental wellness of the selected persona.
Some of the questions that we will be exploring includes:
Who are they? What do they struggle with and how are they coping in this climate? Is our Built Environment designed to be inclusive for people to deal with issues like depression, anxiety, insomnia, stress, addiction, dementia, autism etc? Is there an avenue for these voices or are they normally contained within institutions? How can spaces be modified or reimagined for the ‘Invisible’?
You will be required to document the life of a person of your particular interest through a short video and show a deep level of understanding on the mental health issues that you have selected to work on. You will propose how spaces can be modified or reimagined through the illustration of how impactful your proposed architecture can be with the employment of our different senses (materiality/ light/ smell etc) for our City’s future with more people suffering from a myriad of Mental Health conditions. The dimensions and scales in your Architectural design would allow the scrutinization and enhancement of spatial quality and user experiences.
The deliverables of this studio would be, a short video, Booklet documentation (template will be given), physical models and Architectural drawings.
It is important to remember that our role as an Architect extends beyond designing for aesthetic, we design for the people and our community and that means sensitivity, comfortability, safety and inclusivity for the wellness of future generations.