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Studio care architecture

DOMUS_Healing Environment01

Studio care architecture
Farewell to the bed houses

Tutor: Gideon Boie
Engagement: Mediating Tactics

Innovation in hospital architecture seems difficult to achieve, especially in psychiatric care. Although the resocialisation of psychiatric care is in full swing, new building constructions continue to repeat the old logics of the clinic, with the long corridors, nursing posts, etc. It creates an odd situation: beds are being ‘dismantled’, while the hospital still evokes the atmosphere of yesteryear.

In this studio we will examine the architectural and spatial design of psychiatric crisis admission. In this specific care context, the needs and expectations collide most with the limits of the classic hospital architecture aimed at control and coercion. We will research how an architecture aimed at hospitality and comfort does not necessarily compromise the need for safety.

The design assignment will be developed in close collaboration with the KARUS psychiatric center in Melle (formerly known as Caritas) and Sint-Denijs-Westrem (formerly Sint-Camillus). For the crisis care departments on both campuses, there is a current demand for the temporary update of the existing infrastructure and the development of a new vision for a new building.

The design research will be carried out in conversation with the direct users (nursing staff and patients) as well as psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and family/network. An inventory on space perception and use experience will be made using methods of participative observation, in-depth interviews and biographical cartography. Of course authorities will be engaged.

The framework of the research is the reform of crisis admission in mental health care prepared by the Belgian federal government. Key references in this reform are the High & Intensive Care model (Tom Van Mierlo and Yolande Voskes) and theories about Holding Environments (D.W. Winnicott) and Safewards (Len Bowers).

We will add references by delving into architectural theory and practice, a.o. the ideas of healing environment, and the work on the architecture of hope by Charles and Maggie Jencks. Of course we cannot but take a look into the groundbreaking philosophical work on the birth of the clinic by Michel Foucault.

The design research will be carried out at various scale levels, i.e. the urban planning of the psychiatric center, the architectural design of the admissions unit and the interior design.