Safe Space: Architectural Sequence as a Healing Experience

Lonna Babu, Associate AIA

Advisor: Peter Noonan, AIA

University of Maryland, College Park, 2018

This project actively works to de-stigmatize girls from others and themselves by using site-specific advantages to foster interaction between girls and the public.

Human trafficking is the second largest crime in the world with an estimated 4.5 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation today. Safe Space explores a new paradigm for the design a trauma rehabilitation shelter for victims of sex trafficking—it designs space as a part of the recovery and not just a place for it.

Safe Space aims to use architecture as a medium in which to rewrite the narrative of these girl's lives through a 30 unit living/learning community where girls can live together, affirm and understand each other's pain, and heal together. It is a place where girls can learn skills that they have missed out on their whole lives; life skills, work skills, academic education, and discover a new sense of self. It is a place where they can discover that their true value comes from within and not through the price set on their bodies by their traffickers.

No place will ever make these girls forget what they have been through. By creating a place that exists solely to serve them and their needs; we can help them feel human again. In doing that, we hope to design a new normal.


Geraldene Blackgoat, Assoc. AIA, Greer Stafford/ SJCF Architecture, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Jennie Cannon West, AIA, Studio West Design & Architecture, New Orleans, Louisiana

Javier Fornaris Pau, AIA, OBMI Architecture, Miami, Florida

Image credits

Babu- Lonna-01

Lonna Babu, Assoc. AIA

Babu- Lonna-02

Lonna Babu, Assoc. AIA

Babu- Lonna-06

Lonna Babu, Assoc. AIA

Babu- Lonna-04

Lonna Babu, Assoc. AIA

Babu- Lonna-07

Lonna Babu, Assoc. AIA

Babu- Lonna-05

Lonna Babu, Assoc. AIA