An Architectural Exploration of Lived Trauma and Reclamation of Experience



About this project

Trauma lives within people. It can be elusive or outright, shifty — even hidden in plain sight. Over time, it can amplify anxiety or depression, negatively affecting one’s mental and physical health.

The spaces of traumatic experiences are fraught with personal memory, offering an architectural entryway into the psyche.

Presenting trauma as an engrained memory, this thesis hopes to explore its relationship to place. By offering a framework and space to explore trauma, a reshaping and healing process can begin. Is it possible to restructure these spatial memories? How can exploring these spaces give control and agency over the body and psyche?

By mapping trauma’s connections to neurology, spatial memory, therapy techniques, and personal narratives, my thesis introduces a cross-disciplinary approach towards empowerment and healing post-trauma.


I will ask my website’s visitors and guests at the Design Show to share personal narratives of traumatic experiences. They will be instructed to create a drawing, sketch, or collage of the space that it occurred in.

By sharing these experiences and remaking the space with their own hand, participants could gain a new sense of agency. Perhaps they can also feel less alone in their own journeys with personal traumas.

The stories and drawings will be documented on the project website. Upon collection, I will begin analyzing spatial patterns in personal trauma experiences. ‘Spatializing Trauma’ will continue beyond my academic career.

Everyone has a right to have a future that is not dictated by the past.
— Karen Saakvitne

About me

I am currently a Master’s of Architecture thesis student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Architecture, social justice, and mental health are intrinsically linked and have been a source of inspiration for me throughout my time studying architecture. Through my own journey of learning about myself and un-learning habits that no longer serve me I became interested in how my own mental health was associated with memories and habits that are attached to places just as much as people.