Conceptual design and master plan
    Building and architecture

Art Therapy Center Concept, Lviv

The Art Therapy Centre Concept project aims to bridge the gap between the increasing need for psychological rehabilitation and the availability of tailored spaces to host corresponding programs. Art therapy has proven to be particularly effective in dealing with post-traumatic conditions by helping individuals conceptualise, share and work through their experiences, even when they appear to be unspeakable. This kind of therapy is valuable not only for people who have personally experienced hostilities, urbicide, and loss, but also for a wider group, including those who are experiencing secondary trauma.

Multiple programs are already being implemented in Ukraine, ranging from a mental rehabilitation program for veterans within the Unbroken ecosystem to travelling workshops and camps for children and families from displaced and affected communities. There is a significant demand for the professionalisation of training and certification processes for art therapists, and groundwork is being laid for academic university programmes. However, appropriate physical spaces for such therapy are still relatively uncommon.

The aim of this project was:

    To bridge the gap between the demand for mental health programmes and the supply of specialised spaces for them. Art therapy is particularly effective in dealing with post-traumatic conditions, helping people to express their traumatic experiences.

Interviews with art therapists and a design workshop were conducted to determine the functional model of the centre. Several feedback meetings were held with workshop participants and experts from Concordia University in Montreal. This helped to select one solution for detailing and collect suggestions and comments.
First participative design workshop took place in Lviv on the 27th of January 2024:

Three layout solutions were developed that differed in size, composition, number and location of rooms. Due to the topography of the site and the presence of a significant number of mature trees on the site that had to be preserved, the programme was divided between two buildings. 

The two-storey building contains rooms for group sessions, and the one-storey building contains rooms for individual therapy. It was important to ensure noise isolation and privacy for therapy sessions, which was achieved by placing technical rooms between the main therapy rooms and waiting areas. A gallery is located along the southern façade, which prevents overheating in summer and provides access to daylight in winter. Skylights provide natural light to the northern group therapy rooms. 

A style of restrained architecture was chosen where nature is integrated into the design, creating a cosy atmosphere. It was important to create a safe environment that encourages creativity and experimentation. 

The straw-wood panels construction technology was chosen because of the availability of the material, which reduces the carbon footprint and provides excellent thermal insulation. Buildings made of straw bales with clay plaster have a pleasant microclimate that is conducive to therapy. This technology allows for fast construction, as the panels are manufactured in a factory and assembled on site in a few weeks. Currently, this technology is used in Ukraine only for private houses, but there are already high-rise buildings made of straw panels in Europe. By using it for the art therapy centre, and this project aims to help spread and popularise it.

Project team: Maria Tselik, Andrii Bidakov, Alice Alexandrova, Fulco Treffers, Nataliya Kozub

  • Illustration

    Project "Art Therapy Center Concept, Lviv" is financed by the German government and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH