An asylum : design specificity for the spectrum of cognitive conditions
Author(s)Gallagher, Justin (Justin R.)
A N A S Y L U M : design specificity for the spectrum of cognitive conditions
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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This thesis seeks to re-engage the intimate connection between architecture and the minds of its inhabitants through design that addresses specific cognitive needs. Architecture fundamentally shares a connection with the mind. Through its inhabitants' subjective experience, architecture necessarily interfaces with their cognitive conditions, but to varying extents. This connection was demonstrated most intimately in the architecture and history of the asylum. It was then, when perception was conceived as universal conditions that the built environment participated in the cure of the insane. The result of this attitude was colossal, centralized institutions where those considered insane would be treated. The architectural response to the patients reflected the generalized understanding of the mind at the time--homogenous. Today, the role of architecture has been marginalized as the conception of the mind is strictly chemical and neither environmental nor spatial. As a result, these once colossal institutions are now extinct. Treatment of mental illness is now primarily behavioral therapy and psychoactive drugs, which grow more and more pervasive. Currently, 1 in 4 people have a diagnosable illness. This figure has been used to support the claim for a Mental Illness Crisis in America. And while there maybe be an increase in mental instability, the statistic is more likely a consequence of a new, developing understanding of the mind. That is, through this pursuit to decode our very being into chemical formulas, modern science has revealed a diverse spectrum of cognitive or experiential conditions. The new normal is: there is no normal. The urban condition has already begun to respond to this with the growing network of hospitals, pharmacies, and therapists attending to the mentally ill. However, this thesis projects that soon the mind will be so demystified, that all people will register on a spectrum of cognitive conditions. As a result, architecture will need to respond to not only specific physical requirements such as environment, human body, site, program etc. but to the specific cognitive or experiential needs of the inhabitants. These needs will not longer be recognized as illnesses, but rather as "mindstyles" of the individual. Through the design of three domestic spaces for specific mindstyles--SAD, OCD, and APD--this thesis posits the ability for architecture to behave with the localization and specialization of a pill.
Thesis (S.B.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2013.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 81).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology