Date of Award

Spring 6-4-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (MArch)




Have you ever stayed alone and immersed yourself in memories? Have any fragments made you uncomfortable? It was a nightmare. Guilt, self-accusation, inability, exhaustion, and escape took my body and mind. They grew from my traumatic experience. They taunted me and tried to drag me into the abyss of the infinite past when I was stressed out and lost control of the external environment. The shadow struck me until my defense and control system collapsed. The scenes of loss, neglect and pressure became the violence to my psyche.

Unoptimistically, trauma always exists because of natural disasters, bereavements, cutthroat competitions, economic gaps, discrimination, survival stresses, and other social contradictions. Only a few of us notice trauma due to its short illusion and discomfort. But it influences the personalities, behaviors, and values and even can be propagated into the next generations. It never stops as a vortex, but it is the essence of self-shaping.

Traditional healing is established on the basis of healing the body medically with the physical environment. It can only work as a temporary palliative. Another healing is to push the mind purposely to heal trauma in authorities. But it is intense and far away from the populace. However, I did have a magic discovery when I was walking in the bamboo forest of Wenshu Monastery in Chengdu. The moments of observing, and listening to people, actions, colors, sounds, smells, and textures in the forest weaved a network and a healing “surrounding world,” a world both in reality and in my mind had been created. The control came back. I threw my weapon and embraced my trauma autonomously. The meanings and personalities are reshaped during this special healing process. This experience is unique but suggests a possibility of healing trauma naturally in a place outside of authorities.

This novel includes my story and is born with the survivors’ stories, healing practices in multiple disciplines, and fundamental neuroscience, brain science, and psychology theories. It starts from the architectural view to exploring more informed healing spaces. The space is about enjoying, participating, sharing, learning, and embracing trauma naturally in their surrounding world. It is not a complete architecture design or a purely physical space, but a narrative, a discussion, or a process about a method and a medium of how to promote much more complete healing. Who knows the result in the end? If you want, please feel it and take a while to revisit your impressive memories. Let us save them by ourselves or leave them in this space. Hope this practice can help us feel better and learn to embrace our trauma in our surrounding world.


View exhibition online: Zheng Xu, Framing: Embracing Trauma in a “Surrounding World”

Included in

Architecture Commons



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