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Health Design

Health Design

How space design influences the behavior of people with autism spectrum disorders.


Autism is a developmental disorder that is usually associated with childhood: children are indeed the most common subjects of studies on this condition and educational projects. Autistic children then become adults who, as they age, see their respective parents aging as well, whose physical and psychological strength to support them diminishes, and struggle to find activities and services specifically designed to improve their condition.

For this reason, since 2020, the A18 Foundation has been conducting activities for adults and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, creating growth opportunities aimed at enhancing their cognitive, social, and affective abilities, promoting their independence, self-esteem, and autonomy, just like in the project we support: Health Design.

The initiative involves the construction of an Autism Center in Selargius (CA) that will accommodate a maximum of 15 people in the residential area and 30 in the daily and outpatient department. The goal is to improve the quality of life of people with autism who attend the Center by creating an environment designed and implemented to make them feel comfortable: this will help them reduce anxiety levels, stress, anger outbursts, and frustrations.

Health design, in fact, involves numerous architectural measures useful to achieve this result: in terms of space organization, areas are given a sense of order, rigor, and cleanliness, prioritizing safety and calmness, making sources of danger inaccessible (such as automatic shutters, thermostatic running water, or retractable window handles), favoring soft colors and warm lights, and trying to make the environments quiet through silent air exchange systems or thick walls lined with neoprene for particularly agitated individuals.

Common areas will become spaces dedicated to creativity where each person can personalize and decorate that area as they wish: the dining hall, corridors, living rooms, workshops, and bedrooms will become a sort of protected atelier "Kobo A18," which in Japanese means "workshop."

Finally, we will exploit the stress-relieving and relaxing properties of nature to create a healing garden dominated by greenery, flowers, and water features with scents and smells of nature with which people can also interact by tending to the vegetable garden, plants, walking along pedestrian paths, or exercising outdoors.

Everything will be followed and curated by the specialized staff of the Center consisting of psychologists, psychiatrists, computer scientists, agronomists, and, for the more creative part, an artistic director who has had similar experiences in Japanese workshops, providing the hosted children and adults and their families with an environment capable of positively influencing the behavior of people with autism spectrum disorders with a long-lasting impact over time.



Location: Cagliari

Organization: A18 Autism Foundation

Beneficiaries: Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders

Contribution: €150,000

Duration: September 2022 – December 2023