Creating an Empowering Domestic Violence Shelter Design
I first became interested in helping women affected by domestic violence while serving as ASID student chapter president during my undergraduate career. One of the local domestic violence shelters approached our chapter about providing design advice for their shelter. So, I put together a team of students and we toured the shelter, talked with the staff members, and selected affordable finishes and provided design solutions that the shelter could implement over a period of time. Shortly after that I discovered that one of my good friends had been in an abusive relationship for two years. He had isolated her from her friends and family and we did not know her terrible situation. Hearing her stories made me angry and led me to wonder how I could help women affected by domestic violence.
These experiences led to my thesis project on domestic violence shelter design. The original research portion of my project has allowed me to interview multiple domestic violence shelter staff members and tour a shelter. Shelters are often created in existing spaces, usually old homes, and therefore are not always able to accommodate the users' needs. Even shelters that are built for domestic violence victims may not create an empowering environment. Domestic violence shelters can encourage empowerment by providing chances for personalization and identity formation in bedrooms, large community spaces, and classrooms or quiet spaces that encourage goal setting and decision-making. Abusers often control women, stealing their independence, self-esteem, and joy. The design of domestic violence shelters can nurture residents' sense of self, encourage new friendships, and inspire women as they begin anew.
For more information about domestic violence shelter design click on the M.F.A. Project link on the left of this page to see more renderings from this project.