Via Motherboard, Brian Anderson explains how groundbreaking architect Kiyoshi Izumi employed LSD trips in order to create a more humane psyche ward:
Kiyoshi Izumi was part of a small, federally-granted team of visionaries tasked with developing a province-wide psychiatric hospital overhaul that addressed the affects that clinical environments had on patients. The trick? Get inside the heads of the mentally ill.
The success of the Saskatchewan Plan hinged on mimicking the psychomimetic experience. He’d have to conjure up not only hallucinations but also delusions and perceptual distortions distinct to psychoses. He’d have to eat acid.
It was a bold move. The insights he gleaned from levelling with patients and their surroundings, if we’re to take his word for it, found Izumi envisioning what’s gone on to be called “the ideal mental hospital”, the first of which was raised in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, in 1965.
To the untrained eye, Izumi’s final building likely appeared decidedly non psychedelic. But look closer and it becomes clear just how instrumental Izumi’s psychomimetic experiences proved in shaping the way he thought about the sort of feng shui of socio-psycho interaction.
It was not a mirrored warp. A cool, “flat” palette lightly colored the rooms and hallways. It was not a wormhole–rather than gaping closets there were large, mobile cabinets, each with an easily discernible back and front side. Nor was it a cage–this was a place of many windows, all low and unbarred. The beds sat low to the floor in individual rooms, each furnished so as to define the floor as close gound, not a distant pit. It was not a theatrical setting. Privacy was paramount. There were social spaces, sure, but the doorways and thresholds to those areas were specially designed to beat back the stock-still horror of feeling on stage.
It restored time. Clocks and calendars were plentiful, though never positioned as to appear instable, floating, or in defiance of gravity. And it was not synesthetic. Izumi took pains to dampen disorienting architectural minutia that for some patients kick up waves of mish-mashed senses. “Heat, light, and sound sources were designed to avoid creating confusion,” Izumi continued in LSD and Architectural Design, “as many of these sources became indistinguishable to a patient who is experiencing perceptual changes and distortions.” To wit: “The combined [light fixture] fittings that are used quite commonly in commercial buildings were not used in the psychiatric hospital. In selecting illumination type and distribution, we tried to avoid creating silhouettes of faces and bodies.”
Read the rest at Motherboard