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Special Design Advocated for Shelters for Battered Women

February 07, 1988

To a battered woman seeking refuge, a shelter should serve as a "midpoint between home and a new life," according to Ben J. Refuerzo, a UCLA architecture professor.

"They must be designed with the special physical and psychological needs of their residents in mind," he said. "For instance, the shelter should be secure enough to protect women from assailants without giving the oppressive feel of a prison or fortress."

The architect proposes that a sense of protection can be combined with a home-like atmosphere through "soft" architecture, which might include hedges and other landscaping, gates and unobtrusive fencing.

A place for privacy and a place in which to socialize are other guidelines, Refuerzo suggested. One answer is a large, flexible room containing small alcoves as well as areas where young children can play.

Most shelters are located in former motels, residential buildings, churches and warehouses. The ideal shelter, the architect said, is an emerging type of building.

Copies of the study undertaken by Refuerzo, Prof. Steven Vederber of Tulane University and students at UCLA's Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, may be obtained by contacting Refuerzo at (213) 825-2769.

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