The Serenity

The Serenity is a mental health and rehabilitation center for women with PTSD located in Al-Kamalieh, Amman, overlooking on Wasfi Al-Tal forest. Both severe and minor PTSD Cases will be treated by residential and partial hospitalization programs through a well-designed journey of recovery.
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Designer(s) : Sara Mo'adi

University : The University of Jordan

Tutor(s) : Ahlam Harahsheh

With the increase in cases of violence, harassment, inequality in wages, loss of children or abortion, and repeated threats against women in Jordan every year, the number of cases of mental illnesses among these women has increased, which calls for the need to spot the light on most common unknown mental illnesses, such as PTSD.

PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health condition that occurs when someone experiences a severely traumatic event. Such as war, serious accidents, natural disasters, terrorism, or violent personal assaults, such as rape.

The serenity is an integration between a network of ramps and bridges moving between open spaces interfering with the existing nature of the surrounding forest and the open-to-air courtyard, forming a proper psychological healing circumference for women suffering from PTSD. These spaces are designed to achieve the highest visual interaction between the users themselves, as an element of encouragement for women during their journey of recovery.

The project is mainly consisting of 3 phases of recovery, starting from traditional therapy sessions in different rooms in size and shape. Moving to experiential therapy, using expressive tools and activities, such as role-playing or acting, arts and crafts, music, and guided imagery to re-enact and re-experience emotional situations from past and recent relationships. Here, patients are more likely to physically interact with each other and with the site’s nature. Ending the journey by engaging them with the local community, within a safe environment where they can express themselves and their productions proudly. Patients will move vertically from a lower to a higher level as their condition improves.

Different factors affected the design. Such as adapting the design to the existed nature of the Wasfi Al-Tal forest, respecting the presence of social stigma toward mental health illnesses in the Jordanian society, respecting the women’s needs for privacy, and designing the spaces based on the journey of recovery for patients suffering from PTSD. Both spaces and circulation were designed based on using experiential therapy as the main treatment method.

Studying the forces affecting the project, the social stigma of mental illnesses stood as an obstacle between the goal of spreading awareness about PTSD and the women’s unwillingness to be seen entering the project. Therefore, this affects the design in 2 ways:

  • By respecting the unwillingness of women not to be seen, especially in their first stages of recovery. A secondary unobserved entrance was designed with its journey to directly enter the therapy session area to reduce the possibility of interaction with others. On the other hand, a visual connection between this therapy area and other functions of the project will act a role in encouraging these women to take the main entrance and communicate more with others. Furthermore, users accessing the main entrance will be visually able to interact with others by walking through open to an air bridge overlooking other functions in the project.
  • By extruding a glassed box from a plain façade that functions as an open-to-society gallery area for the productions of women during their recovery journey. This glassed box in the façade will be seen day and night as a focal element to send a message by spreading awareness and showing the capability of recovered women.