Architecture in Defense of Dignity
Noonan, Peter V
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Architecture can help people defend dignity when they most need it. This thesis investigates three areas in which a place may offer support: identity, or personhood; liberty, or control over environment; and vitality, or sense of purpose. The thesis proposes a design for an inpatient rehabilitation center, for people who have suffered from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Challenges to dignity are not limited to health care settings, but TBI highlights these challenges by impairing a patient's own defenses and straining a family's ability to cope. Among proposed architectural elements are rooms allowing self-expression yet offering respite; luminous shafts providing for control of daylight, fresh air, and information; and empowering dining and garden spaces. Rehabilitation is transitional, occurring after acute hospital treatment and ideally leading to a return home. A site in Philadelphia near hospital campuses, but rooted in a residential neighborhood, is an ideal for a place of dignified transition.