Hotel of Last Resort: Enhancing User Agency in Harm Reduction Architecture
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Homeless individuals who use drugs represent some of the most vulnerable and marginalized among society. In the context of a national opioid epidemic in Canada, harm reduction strategies, which reduce the adverse consequences associated with practices or situations, are increasingly being employed to prevent drug overdoses and fatalities. Personal practices of people who use drugs are expanding the current notions of harm reduction. Drug consumption facilities and housing address some of the physical risks to homeless individuals who use drugs. This thesis questions how design can enhance user agency in harm reduction architecture. Through the adaptive reuse of a single room accommodation in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver, this thesis transforms a risk-laden environment into desirable and dignified homes for vulnerable individuals. By incorporating the personal harm reduction practices into the architecture typologies, this thesis proposes a design that enables self-determination and increases the quality of life of people who use drugs.