• Claire Burpee-Ouellete

  • Grieving Without Boundaries

    Grieving Without Boundaries

    My project is a design for a small reimagined in-patient hospice facility and bereavement community center, responding to the capstone prompt for Interior Design this spring, which was to address sustainable maintenance. Sustainable maintenance is the process of fostering dynamics to ensure that caretaking is a role shared within a community, rather than one relegated to women, as a way of dismantling the gender roles defined by capitalist values and laying the foundations of an egalitarian society. Sustainable maintenance can inform the built environment by fostering collaborative relationships and reshaping power dynamics in the domestic sphere. I designed a series of adaptable environments for an array of mourning rituals and therapeutic activities to accommodate grieving and promote emotional and psychological resilience practices. It is undeniable that death in the United States is shaped by corporate and other for-profit influence. It follows that the process of mourning is also shaped by these forces. The spaces currently used for mourning are inadequate and can reinforce the association of death with guilt, evasion, and discomfort, negatively affecting individuals and communities.

    I want to use my spatial intervention to showcase ways the built environment can sustainably maintain a healthy and authentic human relationship to the natural process of death. In my project, I focused on three elements. The first was the relationship of the building (and program) to the site, a Salvadoran civic plaza. The space can both serve as the location and support activism. The second element was the development of spaces to support the work of women's organizations. These include an exhibition space designed to bring visibility to women's issues by serving as a site for archiving and showcasing research-based materials and documents and as a council area where women can talk about their problems, share stories, and identify what can be done for and with the community. The third element is the reclamation of materials. I took inspiration from the tiles of La Dalia and developed metal meshes that can be used to overlay spaces for privacy.

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