My final year project is titled the Feminist School of Freedom from Substance, an educational institution that mainly focuses on addiction recovery and the eradication of stigma surrounding substance abuse.

What kickstarted the concept behind the proposal is a question that we as a society have yet to find the answer to: Why are rehabilitation centres currently unsuccessful for the most part? My position is that what stands between sufferers of substance abuse and true recovery is stigma. The school strives to “educate the stigma away” by offering a double programme: Recovery, for people seeking help due to addiction, and Guidance, for people who want to learn to offer the help needed.

Feminist theory has expressed time and again that substance abuse manifests differently in every gender (or lack of, for that matter). And yet, we still approach recovery as a one-size-fits-all journey. Catering to the different needs of women, men, non-binary and queer individuals, my proposal is comprised of three private wings — named after historical figures relevant to substance abuse recovery —  connected by a main building. The design also includes limited student accommodation and a daycare.

The aim was not to create a space that blends in with the surroundings of Grafton Street, but to produce a building that draws attention to itself and thus raises awareness of addiction recovery. Through the design of the public realm space, the school seeks not only to teach the students inside, but also the regular passers-by, urging them towards curiosity, awareness, empathy and connection.