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.