1 September - 30 November 2024
Mental health - what does architecture have to do with it?
Architecture and human affect are closely linked. Spaces and forms have marked effects on our mental, social, and physical well-being — they shape the ways in which we experience the rhythms of daily life. Aspects of design, buildings, urban planning, infrastructure, and public spaces are not neutral; they impact both individuals and the broader society — whether that is positively or negatively. One in four people will face mental health challenges. These are often accompanied by a high degree of stigma, which is worsened or lessened by a number of factors: government policy, the level of emotional literacy, the quality of help available, among others. Architectural spaces and decisions seem to interact with both the etiology of various conditions as well as the healing process of those in recovery. And so how might architectural practice contribute to the alleviation or even prevention of mental health problems? In what types of structures have people historically sought relief from inner difficulties? What is the role of active collaboration with other professionals as well as users of buildings in the conceptual and design phases? How could architectural solutions empower the individual?
Evelina Bartusevičiūtė started her architecture studies at the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, then continued at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where she defended her master's thesis in 2021, titled "Intersections for healing dialogues: the case of the Republican Vilnius Psychiatric Hospital". The essential issues examined in the work include the agency of the individual, ways to empower people in relation to space, the relevant power relations between patients, staff, and the broader society. She is also interested in community engagement in improving mental health, as a result of which she is developing an experimental artistic research platform @avoidlesscommunities for the creation of short or long-term communities. The platform explores the meaning of concepts like individual / (non)stranger / community / society and questions the existing, established norms of architectural typology. In 2022, she was one of the participants of the AF Experiments platform with the project "Avoidless Architecture". Besides architectural practice she is also the co-author of the radio show "Mixed Feelings". In 2023 she matriculates as a bachelor's student in psychology at Vilnius University.
Urtė Laukaitytė is a philosophy PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, where she specialises in philosophy of psychiatry/theoretical psychiatry. Prior to her PhD, she received a cognitive science MSc from the University of Edinburgh and she holds a BA in linguistics from the University of Cambridge. She has published articles in general audience magazines, such as the Public Domain Review, History Today, among others, and she serves as assistant producer for the Many Minds podcast. Her work has been supported by a number of foundations and other grant-awarding bodies; for instance, she has been selected as a Regents fellow, a Chateaubriand fellow, a Global Priorities fellow, a SSNAP fellow, and so on. Urtė spent the year 2022/23 as a Solitude fellow at the Akademie Schloss Solitude arts residency in Stuttgart. She is involved in various art collaborations - most notably in photography.