AIA Dallas Student Design Winner, Sarah Fletcher!
We are thrilled to celebrate BRW team member Sarah Fletcher for winning a 2020 AIA Dallas Design Award. Sarah was one of four Student Design Award Winners. This is a huge achievement and we are proud of her accomplishment!
Sarah joined our College Station Studio in 2017 while working to finish her Masters at Texas A&M University. The below project is her final study project of her Master’s Program.
The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. Of the estimated 40.3 million, 81% of them are trapped in forced labor and 75% of them are women and girls. Fortunately, there is a growing number of organizations making it their mission to bring freedom and healing to this group of people. However, while freedom from slavery is the first step, healing from an event of such a caliber of trauma is a painstaking process in which survivors must face the consequences of other’s actions in their own lives.
While healing from such trauma, a human trafficking survivor’s thoughts and emotions are incredibly susceptible to her surroundings. There have been several studies both in the fields of architecture and psychology about the impact one’s environment has on their mind, body, and wellbeing. Results from these studies have formed hypotheses such as biophilia (the tendency of humans to gravitate to connections to nature) and prospect and refuge (the feeling of space being enjoyable based on its provision of a scene to observe from a place of safety). This project utilizes these two concepts heavily as well as extrapolates their underlying principles in the investigation of how to create a space that feels empathetic and enjoyable for someone who has undergone severe trauma. This project also employs principles from psychological theories such as embodied cognition (a theory that one’s environment constantly plays a role in their thought process).
Along the base of the Rocky Mountains outside Colorado Springs, CO, this project is composed of stand-alone residential housing, a community center, and a chapel; however, the focal point is the community center. Here, the design itself took inspiration from “Kintsugi,” the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with molten gold. Like Kintsugi, this project takes a simple form of a rectangle and breaks it into pieces on different axes. These broken pieces are then clad with wooden slats and house the main social spaces; thereby letting the breaks of the building become its source of beauty.
Through drawing attention to nature’s beauty as well as reinforcing symbolism of healing through form, materials, and function, each space of this project hosts intentions and design decisions made to point a human trafficking survivor to the fact that she is not broken but whole.
You can see other winners and entries here: