Fig: 1 – Social Anxiety
Each of us comes into this world with a unique pattern, that is weaved through a biological makeup, which is neither good nor bad. The environment we are born in determines our inclination towards a certain kind of behaviour. Nature and nurture play a vital role in the development of these behaviours, cognitive thinking and mental well-being. Although our brain chemistry decides our mindset, nurture shapes or encourages it. Along with people, spaces, corners, windows or the spaces also affect us in multiple ways. Our social interactions and gestures align with how spaces are, their colours and the overall environment.
Today, in this fast world, we are subjected to all kinds of environments the whole day. Travelling through urban chaos, viewing sensitive and unnecessary information throughout the day or balancing work-life, everything takes a mental toll leaving us tired at the end of the day. Due to this grind, people in urban areas are more likely associated with higher rates of most mental health problems compared to rural areas.
Fig: 2 – Depression and inability to seek help due to social stigma (Credits- Kristina Tripkovic)
While people facing natural disasters, industrial exploitation and civil wars are more likely to have such conditions, the stigma and neglect around mental health are enormous. For a population of more than 200 million, there are fewer than 300 psychiatrists in developing countries.
The lack of knowledge at the primary stage of such problems is left to the individual or family members, leading to severe symptoms of mild disorders like stress, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety etc. With the increasing social and economic pressure, normalizing therapy is the need for the hour. Various awareness drives and doctors are doing their part in normalizing mental health, architecture being a crucial element affecting behaviours, can a physical solution explore this problem through systematic design and interior spaces?
Fig: 3 – Group/community therapy through various activities and a space to speak (Credits-Adrianna Geo)
The myth that mental illness is equivalent to that of craziness needs to be busted. The strategies and methods used by therapists can rewire emotions and invoke a healthy perspective towards life.
Can this provision be induced in communities and local groups? How can architecture integrate an important and necessary subject in places where it is set aside as nothing more than stress?
How can we as architects and designers develop spaces that create open interaction and an environment for healing?
Brief: The challenge is to design a community therapy centre, to encourage people to be open and share their problems.
The centre through its design should be able to bridge the gap between the stigma around mental health and the ability to talk about it freely among all ages.
Nigeria is currently facing a global emergency in mental health. Due to stigmatized societal attitudes towards mental illness and inadequate resources, facilities, and mental health staff, figures suggest that approximately 80% of individuals with serious mental health needs in Nigeria cannot access care. The need to reform the mental health system is necessary, can architecture play a part in this?
Abuja is the eighth-most populous city in Nigeria, and the urban situation is quite serious concerning infrastructure as well as the working/living conditions. The site selected is besides a recently developed gated community and within a multifunctional district.
Location: Abuja, Nigeria.
Site Area: 3500 sq.m
Height Limitations: 6m
Ground Coverage: 30%
Maximum Built-Up Area: 3500 sq.m
Setbacks (as per CAD plan)
Coordinates: 9°06'28.5"N 7°23'11.0"E
Inclusive: The community centre should be an open structure for the inclusion of all age groups.
Interactive and private spaces: Design to maintain public interaction as well as spaces of solitude.
Therapy: Spaces for professional and natural therapy (music/art)
Nature: Incorporate natural landscape in spaces of reflection therapy sessions.
Participants can create their programme considering the community and its users.