REFLECTIONS BODY IMAGE CENTER
2012 | Los Angeles, Ca
This project is particularly created as a body image center in care for those suffering from Bodily Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a chronic illness where a person envisions their own physical appearance as a form of "imagined ugliness"; an illusion they view that is not really there, but others see them as perfectly normal. This illness can effect children as young as 10 years old, to an adolescent age, even up to adulthood if not treated right away. Varying by the years, it is also possible this illness affects more males than females, depending on their level of vulnerability and willingness to reach out to others for help.
I chose to design this facility to become a therapeutic and recreational environment, rather than a traditional looking space for a typical asylum or medical hospital. The goal to have a "Zen" concept makes for a comfort appeal of peace as well as encourage an effectively transitional experience for a BDD patient. By bringing all natural outdoor elements inside the facility, this allows those seeking for treatment to find some light at the end of the tunnel that would help gradually allow them to walk outside with confidence. Initially, most BDD patients are extremely vulnerable to being outdoors and prefer not to be seen in public due to their mental illness. The design hopes for BDD patients to become one with nature by learning to be comfortable in outdoor environments, in public spaces, and in front of other faces---be able to socialize and overcoming their biggest fears regarding their appearances.
I interviewed many experts and specialists of BDD doctors. But, the one former advocate, who survived from his own experience with BDD as a patient was one I learned from the most. He is now proudly a host for public relations and social media. I had to also walk into an urgent care facility to study the site, the types of devision for each element of individual spaces, learn about zoning restrictions and building code.