Adaptive Healing: Exploring therapeutic architecture and the integration of addiction rehabilitation into the Cape Flats, Mitchells Plain

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This dissertation explores therapeutic architecture and the integration of addiction rehabilitation into the Cape Flats, Mitchells Plain area. This project ultimately introduces the concept of an integrated community rehabilitation and wellness centre in one of the most notorious, unhealthy urban environments in the Western Cape, Mitchells Plain. This will demonstrate that a healing environment can be achieved in any context, urban or rural. A rehabilitation centre that engages with its surrounding community, fostering various levels of controlled interaction between patient and public. An integrated facility that gives back to its community through shared facilities. This investigation also unpacks the existing rehabilitation ecology and the gradual transition process in the formulation of a new hybrid system that combines the various stages of rehabilitation within a centralised facility. The project aims to deinstitutionalize the existing rehabilitation programme through the ‘simulation of a real life’ concept, where the facility will incorporate familiar elements, such as the house, neighbourhood and downtown to replicate the variety of environments in our everyday lives. The design uses ‘nature as therapy through architecture’ with the implementation of various concepts, which includes a raised therapeutic platform and a perimeter planter, serving as an urban filter that defuses the harsh urban context of Mitchells Plain. This project also explores the role of Architectural technology in therapy and ultimately introduces the concept of a highly localised adaptive façade system that allows for individual patient control and to filter the interactive visual relationship between patient and public. Our modern healing facilities have been designed to house apparatus for healing but not to be healing instruments in themselves. Architecture should be considered just as significant as the treatments that it houses.

Includes bibliographical references.