The 'break' space : psychological relief in architectural transitional spaces

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Donaldson, Megan
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Flinders Gate (Melbourne, Vic.)
Melbourne (Vic.)
work-life balance
multipurpose buildings
architecture and space
live-work buildings
work from home
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Donaldson, M. (2014). The 'break' space : psychological relief in architectural transitional spaces. Master Thesis Explanatory Document. An unpublished research project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture Professional, Unitec Institute of Technology.
With many cities worldwide plagued by issues from unsustainable urban sprawl, a common solution is to densify the existing urban tissue. The live-work typology provides one means for densification, where one would live and work in the same building, having less reliance on non-renewable resources for the commute between. However, an issue of the live-work typology is the absence of the forced mental respite often provided by a commute between home and work. The focus of this research project is to investigate how the transition spaces of a building could be designed to provide opportunities for psychological respite – where occupants can, through moments of liminality, achieve some relief from typical pressures and vexation in their lives relating to the spheres of home life and work life. The project challenges scepticism towards the livework typology by adapting the programme to current attitudes, and typical routines making it a more viable and attractive living situation. This project deals with the reliance on forced respite as a result of commuting between home and work, acknowledging the role this break plays in the 21st century lifestyle. Research into the history of, and current attitudes toward, the live-work typology expose this reliance, suggesting the relevance for the ‘live-nearby’ scenario referring to the thread within the live-work typology where live and work are distanced by a space inbetween. Further research explores the idea of liminality as a seminal notion which could provide the means for psychological relief. Additionally the research draws on surrounding ideas and examples of the in-between space and the relevant phrase ‘house as a tiny city, city as a huge house’. Concepts from architectural and urban design theory merge in order to develop a network of spatial experiences providing opportunities for psychological retreat. The project applies relevant theory and analysis to the design of liminal space demonstrating the relevance for a ‘break space’ in architectural works. The project contributes a unique evaluation towards the concept of liminal spaces and psychological relief in live-work programmes. Project site: Flinders Gate, 172-192 Flinders Street, Melbourne, Victoria.
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