Designing for healing: a cross-cultural approach to the interior design of an art therapy centre for children in Nicaragua

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Plett, Christine
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Designing a culturally appropriate space begins by recognizing that culture affects us from the moment we are born. It plays a role in how a child grows up, how a person communicates, how a person perceives time, the beliefs and values of a family, as well as the way space is inhabited. These cultural characteristics inform how designers design space. However, what happens when the designer is not from the client’s culture? Knowledge about another culture is often gained by interior designers through client interviews, internet searches, and the occasional book. It is important to add community visits to this list. Cultural understanding is enriched when a person is able to experience the culture through smells, sights, sounds, touch, and taste. These sensory experiences explain answers to questions we, as interior designers, never even knew we had. This project responds to the gap that exists between the designer and the clients’ community. Through an exploration of the Nicaraguan culture and cross-cultural theory this project proposes a design for an art therapy centre that addresses Nicaragua’s culturally-specific needs. By examining trauma and its effects on children, the design can be child-specific while being sensitive to trauma-related symptoms. This will be done through the exploration of areas of knowledge related to sensorimotor theory, art therapy, and mind, body, space theory.
Cross-cultural Design, Interior Design, Nicaragua, Resilience, Art Therapy, Children, Trauma