Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department


Committee Member

Dr. Anjali Joseph, Committee Chair

Committee Member

David Allison

Committee Member

Dr. Dina Battisto

Committee Member

Dr. Diane Perpich


Across the world, 20-25% of all women are victims of domestic violence or abused by their partners. Survivors are abused where they should be the most secure their own homes. In such situations, they turn to shelter homes for safety and security. There are around 1,800 shelters programs across the entire United States (National Network to End Domestic Violence, 2015) but are often crowded, involve communal living, offer little or no privacy, and include numerous restrictions that come with such a living condition. The spatial qualities and setting of shelter homes should have a positive impact on health, recovery, and well-being of the survivor, but it is clearly evident in the literature that the existing facilities do not promote healing. The aim of this study was to explore qualities of the physical environment of shelters that influence and support the survivors in recovering from this traumatic experience. Four facilities were identified within the state and a study conducted to understand needs of the victims, the problems they face, their perspective, services offered in the shelter homes, and the behavioral implications of the built environment on the residents through surveys, interviews, and observations. Each facility was assessed based on the design objective derived from the literature (framework of dignity comprising of safety and security; privacy and control; and comfort). The study focused on defining the objectives, developing a set of design considerations, and creating a toolkit for studying the design of shelter homes.



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