Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Architecture as Therapy: Bloodletting: Beauty Spills Forth from the Wound

posted on 2022-03-01, 01:49 authored by Stephanie Liddicoat
Self harm is a plague, wreaking ugliness across the face of society, a scar deforming what was pristine, swiftly spreading to become a gaping open wound. The therapy techniques and facilities aiming to treat such self harm conditions were discovered to be ineffective; the plague is gaining momentum. This research proposes an alternative, an architecture as therapy, as a case study with the programme of a bath house to explore how architecture might operate therapeutically with respect to women with self harm conditions. This architecture is not a housing of therapy but rather a tool of therapy, an architecturalisation of psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioural therapy. The architecture as therapy inspires the shifting of paradigms, blurs and shatters boundaries and preconceived notions to further individual thought, reconciliation with the post harm body, and the development of new awareness and identity. Through a process of provocation, engagement and release the architecture as therapy addresses such notions as the inability to communicate through conventional means, and ill-developed identity and sexuality which hinder these individuals. Architecture’s potential to offer therapy is further cemented through its links with communication; it possesses a potential to generate new languages of performativity and of the body through the design of its spaces and elements. The inhabitant’s journey encompasses manipulations of ugliness and beauty, the senses and performativity within an architectural environment to elicit a therapy. Each of these notions is tested across case studies and within the architecture as therapy itself, elicited in a manner specific to these particular individuals. The architecture as therapy can be viewed as a conceptual piece; the purpose of the work is to challenge, to deconstruct preconceived notions of therapy processes and healthcare facilities. Aligning with psychoanalysis, the architecture is a conceptual vehicle with the purpose of pushing boundaries and eliciting paradigm shifts. The architecture inhabits the labyrinthine realm of the mind and as such has been represented in a way where the conceptual ideas and relationships to psychoanalysis are brought to the fore. Finally the architectural form is rendered irrelevant; the body becomes the definer of space and of architecture. The body becomes the beautiful, glorious in her own wounds, her own ugliness. She may unleash her own plague, her autonomy, her liberation, her sexuality, and her identity.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains All Rights

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Campays, Philippe