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  • Writer's pictureChristine

Trauma's Impact To Be Addressed at the 2021 Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture Symposium!

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Christine and Boston Architectural College (BAC)

Faculty Members Dr. J. Davis Harte and Janet Roche

Are Pleased to Present

At The

2021 Symposium:

Quantified Building, Quantified Self

A poster overview

of the brain science research that led to

the emerging field of

Studies indicate that a significant portion of the population have experienced harmful or life-threatening events which have impacted their everyday functioning or well-being. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma have been called a public health issue by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the World Health Organization, a significant proportion of children globally experience traumatic events as a result of armed conflict, natural disasters, and other humanitarian emergencies. These types of experiences can lead to a dysregulated nervous system, impaired in its ability to modulate emotional highs or lows5 outside the individual’s “Window of Tolerance.”

The built environment can heighten a person’s reactions, both negatively and positively. By implementing a trauma-informed approach to design, organizations can create environments which help individuals remain within their window of tolerance.

What is Trauma-informed Design?

Trauma-informed Design is a new concept that has not yet achieved a unified definition. We define it as a design process for the built environment based on trauma informed care principles. All decisions about the physical environment must be filtered through the overlapping lenses of psychology, neuroscience, physiology, and cultural factors. The intent is to create uniquely-designed spaces where all users feel a sense of safety (both real and perceived), respect, connection and community, control, dignity, and joy. Each TiD environment should aim to specifically meet the unique needs of the intended users, recognizing that some helpful and healing design elements may look different for different populations.



The ANFA Symposium will be held online, September 16 - 18, and will explore how the use of big data about people's activities in buildings can lead to a scientific understanding of human-building interaction, forming the basis for better architectural design decisions.

If you are interested in more information about ANFA, including how to become a member and enjoy a discount on this year's symposium, network with other members, access soon-to-be-provided research and educational resources, and participate in workshops, lectures, and more, check out the AFNA website here.

About the Authors and Designer:

Our founder, Christine Cowart, M.A. CTP, has built a career in human services policy, with a focus on social justice and family services. Through this work, she developed an in-depth understanding of trauma, its possible effects, and what can be done to change the story. In her personal life, she is married and a mother of two children with traumatic backgrounds. She is deeply involved with her local school’s equity work, and during the last two decades, has spent most of her free time volunteering as a certified adaptive recreation and sports specialist.

In addition to her Masters in Design for Human from BAC, Janet Roche holds a B.S. in Social Work from Boston University and a Certificate of Business and Management from Harvard University Extension School. She owns Janet Roche Designs, specializing in universal design, and the the design of environments for those who are aging-in-place or seeking accommodations for other human conditions. A longtime advocate for dignity in design, Janet is also the host of Inclusive Designers Podcast, a collaborative forum for designers to share creative ideas for different human conditions.

J. Davis Harte, Ph.D., WELL AP, is a leader in health and wellbeing design. She is the Director and Faculty of the Design for Human Health master’s program at BAC. With Dr. Balabanoff and Dr. Setola, she co-leads the Global Birth Environment Design Network (currently based in Oregon, Toronto, Italy, and Australia). Dr. Harte is an educator, advocate, practitioner, and speaker who bridges trauma-informed spaces, children’s places, and also birth environments with brain, neuroscientific, and environmental psychological knowledge. Davis holds a Ph.D. in Health from the University of Technology Sydney, where she penned “The Childbirth Supporter Study’: Video-ethnographic examination of the physical birth unit environment.”

The trio were joined on this project by Yasmine Badawi, who created the poster's graphic design. Yasmine is a design consultant at RH and a B.Arch student at BAC. She strives to employ her design skills and expand them to delve deeper into the realm of architectural psychology and the impacts of the built environment. Yasmine has developed her guiding path based on the following question: How can we systemize well-being to be a consistent focus in communities and homes by celebrating identity?

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