Spring 2019, Arch 100D – On Sanctuary
With the 50th anniversary of the first formal Women’s Shelter (Domestic Violence Shelter) quickly approaching, this studio will examine the architectural evolution and typologies for sheltering victims of domestic abuse and propose new architectural potentials for designing purpose built sanctuaries. Domestic Violence Shelters (previously Women’s Shelters) are both architecturally and physically anonymous. Drawing from the dormitory, housing, and prison architecture; they shelter, separate, and fortify which brings to question: Do they protect or remove? Thus the development and evolution of the women’s shelter as an architectural typology is a broader discourse on civil attitudes towards domestic violence, gender, and social infrastructure. If the goal of these shelters is to protect, empower and foster autonomy to their patrons, then architecture must evaluate: where they are sited, context and camouflaging methods, security and exposure, the expanse of their programs, material applications and the range of living quarters required. To shelter is to give temporary protection from danger. Architecturally ‘to protect from danger’ can often translate into methods of fortification causing suppression through lack of exposure and connectivity to the external environment. Thus, the architecture of shelters must bridge this challenging line between protecting without suppressing its occupants.