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Buildings that Heal


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Prisons and homeless shelters aren't known for their beautiful aesthetic, but a new architectural movement is changing that, building sanctuaries to aid the post-traumatic growth of the most vulnerable in society.

Words by Emine Saner

Issue 115, Oct-Dec 2023

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  "Imagine what you expect a homeless shelter or facility for women leaving prison to look like.  Institutional, perhaps, utilitarian, no-frills, thrown together with minimal thought?  And if that were the case, how would it make residents feel?

  "An architectural movement, known as trauma-informed design (TID), has emerged to counterbalance dehumanising design - and it's gaining pace, creating beautiful buildings for some of the people who need it most.

  "'We look at spaces in a way that anticipates a person's potential triggers, or what might raise their stress levels, and work with design to mitigate that,' says Christine Cowart, co-founder of the Trauma-informed Design Society (TiDS).'"

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