Retreat to normality : architectural respite for the autistic world

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Lewis, Samantha
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Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Hoskins, Raoul
Pretty, Annabel
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
Carter Road (Titirangi, Auckland, N.Z.)
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
children with autism
care givers
architecture for the autistic
multi-sensory environments
biophilic design
Titirangi (Auckland, N.Z.)
Auckland (N.Z.)
Lewis, S. (2018). Retreat to normality: Architectural respite for the autistic world. An unpublished research project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Architecture (Professional). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.
RESEARCH QUESTION: Can there be an environment where Autism is seen as “Ordinary/Normal”? This design research project shows the development of a therapeutic retreat environment that caters for both the children who are on the autistic spectrum and their carers, which addresses the current (2018) lack of a satisfactory architectural typology. The Autistic Spectrum Disorder, ASD has been refined and defined by DSM(V) (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition.) Autism is a cognitive developmental disorder affecting the basic social skills expected from an individual. It is estimated that 1 in every 66 people in New Zealand are represented by some or a number of psychological disorders described on the Autistic Spectrum. In order to achieve this new typology, nine key design aspects are implemented. This facility includes a range of major programmes and their professional offices, e.g. water therapy, music therapy, sensory rooms, additional therapy, accommodation, cafes, withdrawal spaces, meeting rooms and medical rooms which are accompanied by a series of smaller programmes. These programmes allow for a therapeutic retreat that satisfies the problem of a place which would be natural for an ASD individual to occupy as opposed to being in conflict with it. This project responded to the site context and embodied pertinent research literature resulting in an autistically neutral environment, demonstrating how architecture in response to the immediate site context can achieve a sense of belonging and respite from the fast paced overwhelming demands of the world we live in that is so difficult for autistic spectrum children to accommodate. The result of this research shows an architectural environment which may be able to provide the desired outcome of inclusion and respite within an ASD community.
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