ROOFTOP REFUGE

AN ARCHITECTURAL OASIS FOR MENTAL HEALTH

HELEN MAK
M.ARCH


Mental health is a vital aspect of one’s well-being that deeply infiltrates all facets of one’s life. Therefore, those afflicted with mental illness can experience significant distress, hardship, and even debilitating stigma.

As mental health increasingly emerges at the forefront of medical discussions, architectural mindsets of the past need to dramatically alter as well. Architectural design principles coalesced with unprecedented remediation methods can inventively configure an environment which bolsters healing and promotes mental health. Situated in bustling downtown Vancouver, elevated on the top of a parking garage, the complex of buildings interspersed throughout a garden imagines a new, reinvigorating atmosphere.

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities and can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Mental illnesses can cause significant impairment and difficulty functioning. As per the definition provided by the Government of Canada, mental illnesses “are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behaviour.” Mental illnesses include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders, eating disorders, problem gambling, and addiction. They have biological and psychosocial origins which can agitate the illness as well.

One progresses through an elevator and staircase core that is pre-existing inside the welcome foyer. After checking in with reception and waiting the appropriate time, one can go to the practitioner-patient offices to have a therapy session or help session, face-to-face, with the appropriate practitioner. This can be a social worker, a general practitioner, a psychiatrist, or another support worker.

Depending on the type of therapy in which the client is engaging, one may proceed to one of two group therapy rooms or the pods building which accommodates virtual therapy pods.

The employees have a building in which they can work in their offices, or decompress away from patients in the workers’ lounge. Workers are not limited to practitioners; they can also be landscapers or janitors that may need a break from their busy work.

Thus, the complex of buildings interspersed throughout a garden consists of a healing and therapeutic environment that addresses the holistic individual needs of the client.

COMMITTEE:
Jill Bambury [CHAIR]
John Bass
Sophia Frangou