Master of Architecture (Professional) Graduate Tessa's research explored ways to use wellbeing as a central focus in the design of built environments.
Tessa Lynch was drawn to the Master’s programme as a way to explore her interest in architecture in a deeper way and develop a specialisation she was passionate about.
Her research advocated wellbeing as a central focus in the design of our built environments, and she situated the research within an important environment for students— the university campus.
“We know that social and spatial environments can affect our mental health,” says Tessa. “But it is an under-researched field which needs motivation to stimulate discussion and change.
“The outcome of my research was a resource to guide the design of tertiary spaces supportive of wellbeing. I developed a conceptual framework alongside five intervention points, which could have a positive effect on student wellbeing if implemented as a system.”
Tessa ran focus groups with students and installed a temporary lounge in the atrium of the Te Aro campus, a collaboration with the Student Architecture Network New Zealand (SANNZ), to engage students in the research.
"What excited me most about the research was working closely with students. One of the most important goals was to capture a diverse range of students' needs and views. Through focus groups, I met with students across disciplines and campuses. Spatial wellbeing priorities were identified, and different understandings of wellbeing were unpacked.
“Students desired more comfortable spaces—this was a recurring theme, which motivated the SANNZ lounge installation. We drove around Wellington with a trailer in tow, collecting furniture from students’ flats on loan for the week.
“I saw my research come to life during the lounge installation. It gave me confidence in the process of engaging and implementing the findings from the focus group discussion and literature.”
Tessa’s supervisor, Emina Petrovic, shared her motivation to explore architecture for social change.
“Emina encouraged me to work to my own strengths and supported the multidisciplinary nature that the research became. She wholeheartedly supported and guided me through the entire project.”