Metamorphosis : the social reintegration of spinal cord injury survivors

Thumbnail Image
Other Title
de Leeuw, Paul
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
McConchie, Graeme
Rennie, Julian
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Horseshoe Lake Road (Christchurch, N.Z.)
Gulf Links Road (Christchurch, N.Z.)
Shirley (Christchurch, N.Z.)
Christchurch (N.Z.)
people in wheelchairs
spinal cord injury survivors
housing for wheel-chair bound occupants
halfway houses
social integration
New Zealand
rehabilitation centre design
health architecture
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
de Leeuw, P. (2019). Metamorphosis : the social reintegration of spinal cord injury survivors. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
RESEARCH STATEMENT: To address issues of social isolation and foster better community reintegration of people with traumatic spinal cord injuries that result in permanent confinement to wheelchairs. The proposed architectural design is a transitional facility that bridges a very rough transition from hospital to home, providing them a place to integrate with others like themselves, peer mentor, form groups, re-skill for better employment opportunities, monitor mental and emotional coping, lessen harsh impact on pre-existing spouses or families and reintegrate with the public realm in a less abrupt manner. ABSTRACT: People in wheelchairs faced a harsh reality check every morning as they wake to find that their previous lives have been violently severed and that they must come to terms with their new, bitter reality. These people have a high risk of social isolation and depression which this thesis aims to avoid or negate as much as possible by increasing their opportunities for new and meaningful social interactions. This project focuses on people permanently living in wheelchairs as results of traumatic accidents. Primarily it will aim to design a collective housing arrangement for people coming to terms with the physical limitations of living in a wheelchair. This design will first seek to cater to the needs of wheelchair-bound occupants, before seeking to introduce the greater public in smaller doses to allow people in wheelchairs to avoid social isolation and eventually see themselves as valuable and contributive members of society. This thesis seeks to at least initiate an architectural dialogue between people in wheelchairs, their risks of social isolation and the quest for social cohesion and reintroduction into greater society. The proposed design does this by providing a threshold where wheelchair users can feel safe, in control, equal and uplifted to charge through life with renewed vigour and confidence regardless what obstacles lie ahead.
Link to ePress publication
Copyright holder
Copyright notice
All rights reserved
Copyright license
Available online at