Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Road to Restoration

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posted on 2022-07-28, 04:19 authored by Lock, Thomas

Anxiety and depressive disorders are the second leading cause of health loss for New Zealanders. In particular, students are primarily a high-risk group. They are at the age when most when mental health disorders first present themselves. They are often living away from home for the first time, burdened with the pressures of academic expectations from themselves and by others. A recent survey from Australia identified that almost 70 percent of students aged between 17 and 25 rate their mental health as “poor”(National Tertiary Student Well-being Survey 2016). Almost 80 percent reported feeling anxious, 60 percent had feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness and just over 35 percent experienced thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Research finds that architecture can play an essential role in providing an environment conducive to positive well-being. However, the facilities devoted to student health are typically neglected and located in unused spaces.

This research examines the role of architecture in providing therapeutic environments for self-directed restorative practices through the arrangement of both the sensory and the non-sensory.

This thesis uses an extensive literature and case study review to analyse and explore a design-led research project on anxiety and architecture. This is achieved by exploring the relationship between architecture and scale, prospect/ refuge, navigation, transparency, and landscape.

Using the former Gordon Wilson flats location, this research is strategically positioned between the university through a pedestrian bridge and student accommodation, mediating between student housing and the university. This thesis employs a central spine supporting a variety of multi-sensory options and student spaces, providing opportunities for social encounters or opportunities for quiet reflection.

The research finds that architecture commonly adopts a medical care approach to mental health design with a focus on cost rather than rather than taking a holistic approach with a focus on well-being. This research contributes to an emerging but still under-examined area of vital architectural importance.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


McIntosh, Jacqueline