Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Christiana Lafazani

Second Advisor

Camden Whitehead


Can the built environment positively influence the treatment of an eating disorder? Does the built environment play a role in the quality of care, the rehabilitation process and the lasting affects of treatment in eating disorders and if so, what role does it play? What are the important parameters to consider in designing such a space? Currently there are few facilities designed specifically for the treatment of this disorder. Of those facilities, there is a lack of research regarding the effects of the built environment. Therefore, the process of answering these questions must begin by assessing parameters in architectural precedents that have a strong, therapeutic environment. After studying several therapeutic environments, certain parameters emerged as common elements in each project. Therefore, the following parameters were chosen and used to systematize research: spatial triad (group, therapeutic, and solitude spaces), connection between interior and exterior, natural light, and sensory qualities (acoustic intimacy, space and scent, shape and touch, skeleton and muscle). While several architectural precedents exist; La Tourette, a monastery near Lyon, France designed by architect Le Corbusier, became the most significant structure studied. Research of this monastery included a two night stay with complete access to the facility. Spending full days in the monastery provided an opportunity to absorb the therapeutic qualities of the space. After analyzing common parameters across several chosen architectural precedents, a design solution was developed as a means to check the analysis. The solution involved re-purposing a warehouse building in an urban setting. Spatial connections and current treatment research drove the conceptual process which included diagramming, model building, and sketching. Key criteria for spatial development involved privacy, security, and circulation. The final design incorporated each precedent, creating an interior type that addresses the specific needs of a residential eating disorder clinic.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011