UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Life and landscape : creating spaces for birth Johnstone, Shana


The need for birth centres in British Columbia is the impetus behind this project that supplies a model for birth centre design. The project explores the design of a birth centre from an historical, programmatic and experiential perspective. The birth centre is located contextually as a concept resulting from the interface between the rising medical profession and the long history and current struggles of midwifery practice in the West. Issues of women's autonomy, concerning both midwives and women giving birth, are highlighted by this historical research, and the experience of birth is at the forefront of the design agenda. British Columbia precedents for maternity care are examined for program, spatial requirements and character. The programmatic requirements of a birth centre are developed to support a midwifery model of care, and are expanded to include an outdoor program and a spiritual program that connects the experience of birth to the natural landscape. A set of criteria for site selection is provided to account for the selection of the project site, and to be used in the selection for birth centre sites throughout British Columbia. Site analysis describes the opportunities and constraints of the chosen site, and details the physical elements of the site that the design responds to. The site design illustrates the types of spaces necessary for the birth centre program, their organization, and their experiential character. Design components include a main facility, separate birthing suites, a gathering area, ceremonial areas, and a circulation network.

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