Mirami – the non-denominational sanctuary. The Phenomenon of social segregation and multicultural isolation: exploring the role of spatial design in fostering inclusivity and unity within the Helsinki region. An investigation into the design of a non-denominational sanctuary for universal engagement.

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Arkkitehtuurin, maisema-arkkitehtuurin ja sisustusarkkitehtuurin maisteriohjelma
116 + 2
With the globalised nature of modern cities, fostering social cohesion and inclusivity amidst a multicultural fabric is paramount. Helsinki, characterised by cultural diversity, faces challenges in fostering social cohesion. This study employs embedded cognition theory to understand and address social segregation through spatial design. The central focus is "Mirami," a non-denominational sanctuary in Itäkeskus, Helsinki, designed to transcend cultural barriers and promote unity. Through the integrated zones of Contemplation, Co-creation, and Communication, the sanctuary aims to encourage introspection, collaboration, and dialogue, respectively, creating an environment of safety and belonging. This study is propelled by the ambition to develop a flexible model that can transform vacant spaces throughout Helsinki into thriving hubs for social interaction. Itäkeskus has been selected as a representative sample to implement and evaluate the sanctuary concept. The research methodology includes a thorough literature review, case studies, a comprehensive study of the Itäkeskus region, and the sanctuary's conceptualisation. A pivotal aspect of the study involves identifying uniting principles of architecture and correlating them with cognitive effects to enhance the sanctuary's design. The findings of the research underscore architecture's significant role in promoting social sustainability by recognising and capitalising on its cognitive and social impacts. Specifically, the study finds that applying these uniting architectural principles can stimulate cognitive processes that foster empathy and build cohesive communities. The proposed model offers a practical solution for repurposing vacant spaces and enhancing multicultural urban environments. The broader implications of this research shed new light on the potential of spatial design to facilitate social inclusivity and cohesion.
Kareoja, Pentti
Thesis advisor
Riquelme, Pablo
interior architecture, social cohesion, embedded cognition, multiculturalism, non-denominational sanctuary, inclusivity, shrines
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