Journey To Feel Again

Eczema, anxiety and social settings: How can existing public spaces and structures be more attuned to skin conditions and mental health, providing an escape from social stigma?

As someone who developed eczema in my late teenage years, it was difficult to cope to new a lifestyle of various moisturisers, shampoo products, fabrics and many others to avoid further flare ups. The primary issue with eczema in social settings is that many people do not feel confident enough to socialise due to feelings of anxiety. Bars, pubs and music venues across the city of Manchester congregate large crowds together. This causes humid and clammy environments that aggravate skin irritation, increase public attention, and provoke a sense of unease. Journey To Feel Again proposes inclusive social spaces in the city of Manchester — primarily a gasholder — as an alternative to existing bars and music venues. With a focus on tackling stigma and designs resembling eczema triggers, this thesis aims to transform negative thoughts into a positive phenomenom, by creating an enjoyable and fun atmosphere that enhances the sensory experiences of anxious individuals. Multiple breakout spaces, viewing platforms and withdrawal rooms also allow anxious individuals to break away from large gatherings, acting as a ‘reset’ point to calm their minds and bodies. All of these design aspects contribute to social spaces that are more attuned to people with skin and mental health conditions. The research element of this project has been aided by personal experiences; collaborating with individuals suffering from eczema and anxiety; interviews; charity partnerships; testing and engaging with real social spaces on Manchester sites. These investigations and experimentations have been carried out through various methods of testing, including filming; video projections; collages; digital modelling; physical modelling; drawings; and photography.