Morphosis of Social Conscience
This thesis provides critique of the façades of mental health. It seeks to re-evaluate and establish the methods of treatment in which we address mental health in. Questioning what are the new institutional needs to treat depression in, and how does the designed response successfully address our current mental health crisis?
Alluding to the evolutionary changes of living organisms and the design of collected attitudes and behaviours, this thesis challenges architecture’s relationship to depression. Reinterpreting the way in which public wellbeing is delivered by the design of a new form of treatment; one that is preliminary and situated in the public eye. It proposes a new strategy that challenges a prehistory of stigma and architectural convention relating to mental health.
A consistently high figure of suicides are recorded in New Zealand annually, and depression causes the highest mortality rates of young people in our country. Our public health system is in crisis; its lack of hospital beds, practitioners, and unreasonable wait times result in an unacceptably high annual death toll. Truthfully in this unfortunate reality, depression cannot be cured by architecture. Though this thesis takes the position that social behaviours can be impacted by the design of special programmes and spaces.
The proposition is a preliminary form of healthcare, one which takes a presence in the city and adopts a new façade of mental health. Its presence is to break stigma and social attitudes concerning the treatment of mental health through engagement of the public in a visual and literal conversation of depression; it asserts nuanced attitudes surrounding the way in which we seek help and empowers healthier opportunities to receive treatment from friends, family and whānau. Its form embodies a functioning organism. Between institutional viscera and supplementary appendages, a transparent skin reveals continual circulation, yet blurs the identity of its users. This epidermal layer sweats, blushes and blanches, whilst augmenting occupant emotion upon its flesh. This organ in the city attempts to relieve our strained public health system; shifting collective attitudes towards depression.