Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture

Department

Architecture

Primary Advisor

Kathryn Bedette

Abstract

One in five adults in the US experienced a mental illness in 2018 and 19.1% Of the adult population suffers from the damages of poor mental health, affecting family, friends, as well as productivity in the workplace and physical health. The environment we occupy often goes unnoticed as the catalyst of neglecting mental health, while we spend more that 80% of our days on average indoors, there is a direct connection between environment and its impact on our mental health. Health and human services defines mental health as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, affecting how we think, feel, and act, helping determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. While architects vow to protect the health safety and welfare of those they design for, historically this has been interpreted as physical health safety and welfare why is it that we have overlooked the impact of the spaces in which we design and the mental health, safety and welfare of those it can impact? Studies have been conducted observing cancer patients, prisoners, and those suffering from physical and mental illnesses showing the effects that a connection to nature has amplified the ability to naturally heal. Visual connection to nature has shown a drastic impact on the chemical balance of the body increasing serotonin levels and relieving stress—a leading cause of furthered mental illnesses. My thesis argues a new outlook on design thinking and methods focusing on the influences of environmental connection to mental health and well-being, focusing on four main aspects: introducing “nature” into the space, creating immersive spaces to spark curiosity and exploration, use of natural analogues and implementing unique way-finding tactics to reduce stress. The thesis proposes design guidelines to reduce the negative impacts that the built environment has on mental health.

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