UBC Graduate Research

Speculation, banality, catalogues, and drugs : A critical investigation of architectural approaches to clinical spaces for addiction Haakonsen, Carl Henrik Oshaug Sætrang


This document briefly discusses the history of drugs and drug policy to establish a lineage of the contemporary situation of epidemic proportions of overdoses and substance use. An overview of architectural theory pertaining to clinical spaces for addiction then steers the conversation towards the state of architectural discourse on these spaces, and the usefulness of establishing a base-line of typologies within this area. A brief cataloging exercise is provided to demonstrate the intent, before being contextualized in a larger understanding of addiction, architecture, and media, and how they fit into a collective narrative of both understanding and approaching design for people whose situation the architectural profession may not be familiar with encountering. The implications of this lack of familiarity is investigated in order illustrate the need not only for an understanding, but also a willingness to advocate for and lift these spaces to greater prominence in architectural discourse. A discussion of the status quo is put in relation to this need, in order to explore a design opportunity; a catalogue of architectural features and elements across scales in clinical environments for addiction, aimed at improving the repertoire of architects and other professionals to facilitate interdisciplinary discussion aimed at further the design for clinical addiction architecture. Following the investigation is a design guideline, created as a response to this thesis. The guideline investigates approaches and best practices for the architecture of clinics, and aims to tell both architects, people living with addiction, workers, and other members of the public what the process of designing and establishing an addiction clinic could look like with a critical architectural approach.

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