Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Stress-less Architecture

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posted on 2024-06-04, 03:20 authored by Meg Oughton

Stress is a concern for every human. It is something we all deal with and it can be both good and bad. However excessive stress can lead to poor well-being and have long-term effects on one’s mental health. Stress is especially a concern for students as they deal with increased workload and social stress as they mature. These are difficult to manage through design but the spaces we inhabit can also lead to environmental stress. The built environment should be designed to minimise stress instead of adding to it, especially in a university where the stress levels of users are already high. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and poor architecture can create additional stress for users. The architecture of tertiary spaces often does not meet the needs of students and staff. A place where people spend the majority of their days should support the users instead of causing unnecessary stress due to poor design. These environments should be designed to support the learning and teaching within them to allow people to grow to their full potential. Excessive stress will not only impact the ability of someone to learn within these spaces, but it can lead to mental health diagnoses that may last a lifetime. This thesis explores the relationship between the built environment and stress levels to find how we could design tertiary spaces that minimise stress. The aim is to develop strategies that reduce the stress, or do not add additional stress, of a user within a space. These strategies are informed by a literature review and case studies. Overall, this research suggests possible ways that these design strategies to reduce stress can be applied to an existing university building in Wellington, New Zealand.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

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

3 Applied research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Willocks, Victoria