Illuminating Happiness: Developing a Therapeutic Cohousing Community for Those Affected by SAD
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Seasonal Affective Disorder is currently estimated to affect 10 million Americans, meaning that roughly 1 in 30 people struggle with SAD (Yellow Brick Program). This thesis explores the question: how can architectural design improve the mental and physical health of those suffering with SAD? By establishing a cohousing community for those affected, levels of social interaction can increase and in turn provide additional social and psychological benefits. In order to develop a positive and engaging living space, this thesis proposes several architectural design principles for well-being that can then be applied to this type of community. These principles are derived from environmental psychology, indoor environmental qualities, healing architecture, and Nordic winter living cultures in addition to characteristics of cohousing. The final approach will result in a cohousing community implemented in a case study in the Northeastern United States, an area where SAD is most common. These methods can then inform architects on how to develop stimulating and engaging places for those who suffer with depression in order to inspire a positive outlook on the colder seasons.