Date of Award
Master in Interior Architecture
Single mothers may turn to substance use as a coping mechanism due to the overwhelming responsibility of caring for children on their own. Raising children without the support of a partner can be emotionally, physically, and financially demanding, leaving single mothers feeling stressed, anxious, and exhausted. These feelings of burden and pressure can lead to depression, and substance use may sw to maintain their responsibilities and provide the care their children need. This thesis proposes the integration of two typologies: a harm reduction center and a daycare center, with the aim to de-stigmatize single mother substance users and create a safe space for them and their children.
Existing harm reduction centers are isolated from the local community and their singular focus on substance use has not provided adequate resources and support to those in need without controversy. A de-stigmatized harm reduction center must be tailored to the needs of the user and offer more personalized services. Current harm reduction centers have a strong institutional presence, lacking a cozy, welcoming environment that feels like home and is not subject to constant surveillance. Thus, a more supportive Harm Reduction Center should aim for a personal, inviting atmosphere, moving away from a clinical, commercial appearance that fails to evoke feelings of safety and comfort.
This thesis is situated within an ideal circumstance in which de-centralized Harm Reduction Centers (shortened as “HRC”) designed for different groups of substance-users have been built all over the US. We will look at an adaptive-reuse project in Rhode Island that accommodates an HRC for single mothers and a daycare center for their kids and community kids. Filling in with the original Seven Star Bakery, the integration of HRC and Daycare Center implemented the idea of de-stigmatization of substance use, providing a safe and hospitable place for single-mother substance users within their community.
The proposed architectural design aims to create an environment that encourages interaction, challenges stigma and promotes inclusivity. By thoughtfully considering the needs of substance-abusing mothers and their children and incorporating symbolic elements, the design seeks to provide a platform for positive change and social cohesion by bringing people from different backgrounds together. Research has shown that when individuals have opportunities for genuine human encounters, it becomes harder for them to “other” or marginalize others. Therefore, by facilitating meaningful interactions within the facility, the design aims to foster understanding, empathy, and a sense of shared humanity.
From an aesthetic perspective, the design incorporates symbolic elements that add depth and poetic resonance to the space. The roof, extending over all the program areas and originating from the harm reduction center, represents the center’s connection with the community. It symbolizes the overarching goal of fostering integration and breaking down barriers.
Additionally, a two-story curved wall acts as a physical and metaphorical link between the harm reduction center and the daycare. This curved wall evokes feelings of protection, security, and warmth. It metaphorically reflects the strong bond between mothers and their children, emphasizing the nurturing environment and adding an element of poetry to the design.
Su, Meng, "Nurturing Haven: A Safe Place for Single Mothers" (2023). Masters Theses. 1151.
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