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Publication Detail
From Foucault to Hillier: the interconnection of space and society in facilities for behavioural health
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Chrysikou E, Penn A
  • Presented date:
  • Presented at:
    Conference European Healthcare Design 2018
  • Location:
    London, UK
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Behavioural Health Architecture, Space Syntax, Total institutions
Architectural and healthcare architecture theories followed non-corresponding paths. This academic separation prevented cross-fertilization and seamless design. Among the exceptions, Foucault’s theory of total institutions influenced both sectors. First, he introduced the phenomenon of institutionalization. Then, Hillier in his generic theory of spatial morphology referred to Foucault to demonstrate the interconnecting relationship between space and society. The interface between these two social theories, the theory of total institutions and space syntax, became clearer through the work of Marcus. He focused on architectural history and buildings such as the Panopticon, nevertheless not on synchronous behavioral health facilities. Thus, the relationship between the reproduction of Status Quo through architecture and the interconnection between space and social hierarchies in the new facilities for behavioral health remained for many years unexplored, despite the active discourse of the generic architectural theory. Parallel, the inadequacy of new behavioural health buildings to perform according to expectations, generated the question of the relation between their layout and psychosocial performance. Translated to research aims, the research generated the following objectives: (i) to explore the mechanisms with which the built environment influences the personal and social milieu of psychiatric space and (ii) to identify the environmental requirements of mentally ill people according to their needs. The locus for the fieldwork comprised two behavioral health wards of different public health authorities. Each was initially evaluated using a methodology formerly developed and tested specifically for behavioral health facilities across various geographical contexts. The methodology aimed to identify the relation between policy, care regime and patient-focused environment in terms of institutionalisation. Data collection involved plans, visits and detailed staff and patient interviews. Yet the methodology presented limitations in identifying the social dynamics generated by architecture. To address that Space syntax analysis of plans was added to identify the social logic of layouts and its possible relation to people’s responses. The experience of people, their interaction and their health and wellbeing were influenced both by the lack/presence of humane and compassionate qualities in design and from the layout. Yet, spatial analysis uncovered unexpected contradictions. The analysis could highlight the most integrated areas. Counter to normative examples, though, these areas fostered social unrest and violence. This contradiction could be explained by Foucault and Goffman’s Total Institutions and their ability to inverse social norms. This finding strengthens the relationship between the interrelation of society and space, indicating that even new behavioral health buildings could foster dystopias. Further research could identify applications in institutions such as care-homes or correctional facilities. Locating areas fostering institutional phenomena at early design stage might a) prevent anti-social behaviours and b) promote typologies fostering therapeutic environments.
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