Samantha Donnelly

Seeking Refuge in Architecture: An emerging spatial typology for women and children leaving domestic and family violence

PhD candidate

  • Samantha Donnelly


  • Professor Naomi Stead


This research seeks to question the role of architectural design in the provision of safe, fit-for-purpose, long-term accommodation in helping the transition for women and children leaving domestic and family violence.

By asking if architectural design can improve the outcomes for women and children leaving violence in search of safe, appropriate and affordable housing, this research considers the existing types of housing, the specific needs of women and children and possible outcomes for future refuge accommodation.

Women and children who do leave violent homes are faced with the enormous task of resituating themselves in alternative accommodation, often temporary in nature, in order to work out the next phase of their lives. Their wellbeing is profoundly affected by the physical design of spaces they inhabit. Older women and needs specific to an Australian context are a focus of this study. A research-based, design-led approach will address the needs of this vulnerable cohort more efficiently in providing safe, affordable, sustainable housing in Australia.