Date of Submission

Spring 5-9-2023

Degree Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture



Committee Chair/First Advisor

Mine Hashas


Harm reduction is a principle that stems from countries like Denmark and Switzerland, that implements strategies to encourage safer drug usage, abstinence, and education for users. The National Harm Reduction Coalition implements nationwide programs for substance abusers, such as Syringe Service Programs, rehabilitation programs, detox programs, housing programs, drug testing facilities, services assisting sex workers, and administering Narcan for overdoses, to try to minimize some of the tragedies accompanying substance abuse. The counterpoint opinion of some countries or states is that providing services like needle exchanges and testing centers are encouraging drug usage and doing more harm than good. However, the idea of harm reduction is to provide a safe haven for users, that accepts drug addiction as a truth of our society that we can choose to condemn and ignore or try to minimize the danger in order to give people the choice to change. In order to reduce the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and possibly spreading it, needle exchange facilities provide a place for users to dispose of used needles and receive clean syringes. In order to prevent the overdoses that sadly plague the country, drug testing programs encourage users to bring in their substances to get tested, to inform the user of what they are actually ingesting. Harm reduction enforces an old saying about addiction, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” People who suffer from addiction have to come to the decision to become sober on their own, or the sobriety will not last. Arizona is a state in America that is suffering from widespread opioid and methamphetamine addiction, and only has six needle exchange facilities in the whole state. The epidemic can not be solved overnight, but architecture can influence the problem of substance abuse in primarily rural and suburban areas. By implementing more facilities for Harm Reduction services to help the community, designers can affect the societal perspective of people suffering from addiction. Maricopa is a rural city in Arizona that suffered from 894 opioid deaths in 2019, the highest overall deaths from opioids in the country. I plan to design an Exchange and Detox facility in Maricopa, Arizona that includes syringe exchange services, detox services, Narcan administration and drug testing services. The Exchange center will embody the four principles of recovery utilized by MARR Detox Center in Atlanta: connection, family support and the recovery of mind, body and soul. The center will focus on safety of the client, safety of the community, education, and the path to recovery. The program will be required to focus on security and the discretion of the clients and staff, and require a starch divide between the detox facility and the other services. The design will be centered around creating a space that is functional, clean, and encourages recovery through the interior design. By implementing these programs in the same space, the center is taking away one of the biggest reasons most addicts do not make it to recovery, they will often not take the extra step to go from a counselor to detox. The Guiding Exchange Center will provide a place free of judgment to those who live a life surrounded by stigma, in hopes that by providing them with love and safety they will one day seek guidance and help.