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ADS3: Refuse Trespassing Our Bodies – The Right to Breathe

Nadia Lesniarek-Hamid

Nadia is an architect-in-training and an artist, interested in the sensorial aspects of spatial design, with a focus on disability and inclusion. Her project this year focuses on chronic pain accessibility in the city as a lens for an evolving design practice. 

In this project Nadia worked with users with chronic pain to understand chronic needs, experiences and ideas to develop a spatial strategy. 

The research process combined the user learnings with readings on how spatial design relates to specific health conditions, such as “Exploring the role of 'enabling places' in promoting recovery from mental illness” (Duff 2012) and readings such as “Design as a Rehabilitative Tool for People with Acquired Brain Injury” (Smith 2015). 

Using a dialogical process of research and design through hand drawings, 3D modelling, painting, video animation and poetics, Nadia developed a design strategy to tackle the concept of chronic access. The responses were translated into policy aims and a proposal to situate and envision this renewed care in provisioning. The proposal and research is collected into a video: the Chronic City.

The Chronic City

The Chronic City is a research project, learning from chronic (pain) needs and routines in order to transform design practices in public spaces. Using tactics of continual rehabilitation for system change in the architecture and city design industry. 

The research project functions as a departure point, aiming to use design as a tool to increase access to public life for people which chronic pain, whilst simultaneously using these needs as a lens through which better-healing-design practice might be created for all. To conduct the research I formed a survey, and through physical and online participation, found 12 people with chronic pain to take part in the study. The participants were asked nine questions; from defining their acts of rest and relief, to their favourite places and ideas on how the city needs to change to include them.


The design strategy that has emerged identifies four typologies of intervention:

Comfort: Create and Adapt regular, comfortable seating (supportive with props)

Social: Create fun and normative installations of rest in public spaces (with an ability to lie down)

Private: Create fully lockable, outdoor rooms for sleep which form a sculptural object from the exterior 

Quiet: Designate and Identify spaces of rest and calm in the city via spatial mechanisms and found through an app.


The responses naturally situate themselves within different spatial scales relating to the body, the sensorial environment, the social context and the wider city. The project speculates on the opportunities with design, on how participant responses could be turned into policy aims.

The Chronic City video demonstrates what this might look like for the city as a proposal, using the Kings Cross area as a case study. 

The Snowdon Trust