Healing Architecture: Orianna Zimmerer '19 M Arch

Oct. 15, 2020

Orianna Zimmerer's Healing Architecture is a center for rehabilitation of addicts located at the Lafayette Park area in Detroit, Michigan. The project is designed to improve wellbeing for addicts, following principles of “healing architecture” that focus on the relationship between quality design and patient recovery is manifested in easy-to-navigate paths, daylight, privacy and views of nature.

The goal of the project is to create a physical space that is open, inviting and embraces the principal of healing spaces. A torqued ellipse atrium accentuates the facility’s main entrance while an integral passive system filters natural light and promotes awareness of time. There are waiting areas located along the facility's circulation which are easy-to navigate with various degrees of exposure to nature. The project includes a porous courtyard with undulated recreational field promoting the opportunity for personal reflexion and joy (healing). Another goal is to promote security for the patients but still a sense of freedom and inspiration. While Zimmerer does not insist that architecture can heal, the project demonstrates that architecture can stimulate a healing environment. The facility forms its own identity as a place where ones goes to re-balance their in-balances.

Performance criteria include exposure to nature, distinction between public and private and daylighting. Additionally, the project incorporates design for Detroit, engaging patients with the culture and art of Detroit, accommodating varying stages of addiction recovery, reducing the stress and experience of the rehabilitation process, creating places for meditation and joy, creating a playful environment, challenging the expectation of what a rehab center facility should be, engaging patients to looking forward to being treated, increasing air quality through the use of plants that can remove harmful carbons and that are native to Detroit, spaces that are more human-driven, spaces to allow patients to break the daily journey and look out over the nature and connecting patients with nature that enliven the senses and nourishes wellness.

Image Gallery

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All images are by Orianna Zimmerer and may not be used or reproduced without express written permission of their creator.


Orianna Zimmerer


Student Work | M Arch Master's Project, Taught by Chris Trumble, Associate Professor of Architecture


Detroit, Michigan