It’s hard to sum up your senior capstone project in five minutes. But with this short, five-page presentation, I think I can effectively present what I want to accomplish with this project. Call it an elevator pitch, if you will.
There is a negative stigma attached to the term PTSD. Changing what the acronym stands for still allows space for the association to veterans, but also opens the palette to explore more than just post-traumatic stress disorder and focus on other therapeutic spaces.
This project will explore not only renovating a wing of an existing residential dormitory on campus, but also create an entire building from ground-up, new construction that will have plenty of space for the many spaces allocated for a truly therapeutic space.
Seven conceptual goals drive my project. These goals are shared with the Fort Belvoir’s Wounded Warrior Home Project done by Michael Graves and Architects as well as researched by IDEO. An excerpt explaining these concepts, courtesy of IDEO, are listed below:
Well-defined, Undefined Spaces
In a household, roles shift, preferences change, and most importantly, physical and mental changes dictate an evolving set of challenges. This demands a flexible design that allows for both defined and undefined spaces. Open-ended space gives residents square feet to imagine an optimism and future they shape for themselves.
Visibles Invisible Security
Trauma, post-combat stress, and reduced mobility are issues that make
it hard to feel secure. People want the protection of their cocoon, but
also want an awareness of their surroundings, it’s about providing security through reduced exposure—and also creating it through visibility, instant communication, and control of the environment.
Inside Out, Outside In
Rehabilitation therapists know the immense healing powers of nature. It can
provide a tremendous gift for anyone suffering from wounds. The outside
world, or even a back patio, is a metaphor for freedom. This duality is about bringing the outside experience inside the home—and, equally important, making sure the journey outside is short, effortless, and joyful.
Respect and accommodation are distinct and contrary requirements for wounded warriors. There is a desire to live a normal life. There is also the real need for special treatment, and for changes that can improve quality of life. The design challenge is to create a disability-friendly home that appears to be completely ordinary.
Sometimes people view their home as a sanctuary. Other times, people see
their home as a gateway to the world. Socialization and solitude are two
opposing drives, but both determine well-being. A home must be a restful oasis, and a place for raucous good times.
It’s difficult to sink down roots when they’re yanked up every few years. The constant flux of military life places extra demands on a family. People don’t want to feel they’re just passing through. This interplay of mobility and rootedness often decides a big chunk of happiness.
Old Self, New Self
Healing is a long and winding road. The early stages are about repairing the damage, rebuilding what was lost. Over time, the unique determination of wounded warriors drives them toward self-improvement and transformation. The human beauty is that great loss aiso inspires tremendous new gain. This calls for an architecture that encourages that recovery, no matter where or how far that journey takes veterans.
Finally, what does this space actually have? That brings us to the list of above. As a new building placed on an old building’s original site, the basic shape of the existing building is carried through to this new building. Various elevations and heights will still work with the site. Focus is on the living areas and the therapeutic spaces such as the relaxation room, healing gardens, and central courtyard.