Date of Award
Master in Interior Architecture
In the context of therapeutic treatment for the terminally ill, psychedelic assisted therapy instigates a direct confrontation with a person’s experience of dying. Over the course of several weeks a patient will arrive at a facility, lay down in a room, and for up to eight hours at a time recommit themselves to the question: how do I comprehend death? Their answer will come in the form of sensations and sounds, visions and abstractions — things that are perhaps not immediately understood, but rather are immediately and vibrantly felt. The answer will follow a non-traditional logic unfamiliar to the empirical nature of other medical processes, and subsequently, challenge the institutional design of the medical environment hosting these moments of recognition.
How can an interior environment support such an extreme experience of interiority, folded into the self? To meet this challenge we look to historic examples of psychedelic environments and attempt to combine lessons from the past with contemporary medical space. By doing this, we can harness the work of radical designers whose practices were overtly confrontational — to oppressive institutions, to societal norms, to the threat of death in the atomic age — and incorporate them into a therapeutic context which typically seeks to gloss discomfort or personal agency in favor of stability.
In order to propose this new typology of space, this thesis seeks to adapt the pre-existing typology of the single-story brick industrial warehouse. With their ubiquity, material solidity, and residential context, these buildings provide a sense of familiarity and comfort to the user — a symbol of reassurance and structure. Once inside the perimeter, the patient is asked to condense the journey that is inherent to both death and psychedelics (from the known, across a threshold, and into to unknown) by traversing the space. The patient moves from an institutional environment across a nature-filled courtyard into a domestic scaled, private space of their choosing — resulting in a sense of stability and control, a sense of smallness in an expanse, and an environment which does not seek to neutralize their ability to discern or feel.
Caiazza, Grace, "Dying differently: designing a death-oriented psychedelic treatment center" (2022). Masters Theses. 966.
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