Seeking Renewal: The Value of Nature and Pausing in Shifting our Focus Inward

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    Exterior Render
    Erica Burgsma
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    Site Massing
    Erica Burgsma
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    Ground Plan
    Erica Burgsma
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    Site Section Drawing and Axonometric
    Erica Burgsma
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    Interior Render
    Erica Burgsma
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    Interior Render
    Erica Burgsma
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    Interior Render
    Erica Burgsma
Author
Erica Burgsma

Examining Committee Members

Supervisor
Committee Member
Internal Reader
External Examiner
Ozayr Saloojee / Maya Mahgoub-Desai

We live in a society that is overly fixated on our outer conditions and stimuli rather than our inner state, which is seen through one of the behaviours this outward focus produces, busyness. So often we choose filling every waking moment with a constant stream of distraction and multitasking, becoming more disconnected from ourselves and the world around us, rather than face the increasingly uncomfortable and absent self within. Therefore the aim of this thesis is to begin to address the problem of focusing only on our outward conditions by studying and implementing through design, the ways in which the act of pausing and nature shift our focus to our inner well-being.

The research goes through a number of reasons why nature and pausing are the key elements to addressing the problem of busyness and what their roles are in shifting our focus and the resulting benefits. The temporal aspect of the act of pausing is considered through studying the practice of Sabbath, leisure and the notion of sacred time. The spacial aspect begins with nature, how it is a sacred place, and how it greatly impacts our internal state and becomes a place of refuge and refreshment. What is then created and increased is the ability to see the enchantment around us, receive spiritual experiences and be filled with gratitude, as we pause and let nature reveal these moments to us.

The application and experimentation of the thesis topic through architecture is expressed through the design of a pavilion. It reflects on how designers can learn from nature and pausing to create spaces that encourage this change in focus and discover the signals architecture conveys to stop, relax, slow down and shift our focus. Strategies include engaging the senses to bring awareness to the present, exercising simplicity, using natural materials and forms and designing inviting, comfortable spaces. As well as creating a slow and mindful design through points of focus, interruptions, progression and the highlighting of time through change, movement and materials.

Project Date
Completed