Date of Submission

Spring 5-9-2023

Degree Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture



Committee Chair/First Advisor

Selen Okcu


According to the World Health Organization, roughly 10% of the world population live with mental disability or impairment (Fujira, 2005). For the intellectually disabled, finding a purpose and independence as one transitions into yound adulthood can prove troublesome given their unique shortcomings. In 2015, it was estimated 80,000 intellectually disabled adults were held on waiting lists for residential placement in government-funded programs that could take up to 10 years to complete. Autism Speaks approximates that this number will increase by half a million in that same time span (Lutz, 2015). A greater initiative must take place to assist these individuals in finding as sense of stability in an increasingly dynamic global setting. Some built initiatives have come to exist specifically for those with Autism, such as the Autism Treatment Center of San Antonio. However, these interventions often neglect a large subdivision of the mentally-disabled population known as Down Syndrome. This genetic condition occurs in nearly one in 1000 live births, making it one of the most common birth defects (Rodrigues, 2019). The scope of projects with the intellectually-disabled in mind should be expanded to meet their particular needs so that they may reside alongside their autistic counterparts. With this diversification, the lack of independence in the mentally-disabled community of adults can be tackled more efficiently through the lens of the built environment. Through manipulation of the built world an Integrated Community can be established to enable these individuals to live their lives within the context of the working world. The resulting project will exhibit this objective by creating a space where individuals with special needs can become become a part of a subcommunity that is assimilated independently into the general public, rather than seperated. Although, creating such a space for the intellectually impaired presents unique challenges in its own right. Mental disabilities create internal obstacles for each individual that can prevent them from functioning properly in a given setting. The design solution to be presented will allow them to not only address, but overcome, these obstacles. This solution will serve to remediate sensory overload and similar symptoms, while also allowing for incremental exposure to them so that they can better handle their presence in everyday life. This creates a functional paradox requiring careful compositional considerations in order to create a controlled, but flexible, environmental setting. The aforementioned paradox in turn is the driving force behind the resulting architectural work. This controlled environment will be attained through the implementation of architectural tools and techniques, such as light manipulation, acoustic control, materiality, spatial sequencing, and overall understanding of form and space.

Included in

Architecture Commons