Date of Submission
Bachelor of Architecture
According to a 2017 study published by the child welfare department of the government, “there were an estimated 442,995 children in foster care” (Welfare). This is in America alone and not calculating the number of children in orphanages across the world. Additionally, in a report from the CDC, there is almost 1.3 million residents of nursing homes as of 2015. Again, this is in America alone and not accounting for the global number. The census departments average the national population to be roughly 329 million. This means that a little over 1% of the population is in nursing homes and 0.5% is in the foster care system. While the percentages may not look high, this is a large number of men, women, and children. So, why don’t we have better infrastructure in place to care for these groups. Throughout the course of this thesis, I intend to study the statistics and collect data to understand how many people fall into these two groups, understand their needs, their current conditions, what can be made better, and better understand the role architecture plays in their lives. Methods of research will include a variety of avenues. From the traditional sense, of reading scholarly articles and statistics, to interviews with those who have experience in these areas or who have experienced (are experiencing) these conditions themselves. The latter method allows me to get into the mind of someone who has firsthand experience and can share in what ways they think things can be improved. From an architectural standpoint, interviewing designers on projects such as group homes (for the foster care system) and nursing facilities (for the elderly) will allow for the investigation of what methods are taken to improve the lives impacted by these structures. Is cost the only condition considered or is the happiness, health, and wellbeing of the inhabitants considered. Both of these groups are close to me for a number of reasons. I myself was an orphan for the first year and half of my life. My sisters were also orphaned at birth. We all spent a period of time at the beginning of our lives in an orphanage. My maternal grandmother moved in with my family when I was 5 years old and lived with us until she passed away. My paternal grandparents were placed in a nursing facility and within 6 months, I watched them decline in health and mental state at a rapid pace. The difference between these two situations made a difference that is unmistakable. Under my mother’s care, my grandmother thrived and never lost her dignity or faculties up until the very end. On the other side, my grandparents in a facility have declined and lost most of their will to live, not even getting out of bed some days. How can we fix these situations and make lives better? How can architecture help?
Hester, Caleb, "See Me: How architecture can change our care of the elderly and orphaned" (2021). Bachelor of Architecture Theses - 5th Year. 162.