Designing for Healing Dignity & Joy

This paper provides an overview of our research team’s work to date with a focus on our Trauma-Informed Design Framework, and iterates and improves upon our original framework from 2020. This framework is not a checklist—rather, a compass for designing spaces that support the somatic regulation, recovery, and restoration of end users.

Architectural Principles Trauma-Informed Design

This pamphlet focuses on ways to design a building to help regulate the body and support therapeutic approaches. Since trauma lives and works through the body, and the body reacts to physical space before we cognitively process it, the built environment is integral to how one experiences trauma. This document presents a brief primer on the body-space-trauma relationship, organizing principles for trauma-informed architecture, some examples of built work, and narratives that inform what amenities residents and staff may need.

Trauma-Informed Design Process

This is an overview of how we implement TID in our design process. This is not a checklist, but more about how the process should be impacted when we seek to design with an understanding of trauma as a core value. This overview includes case studies on specific developments to show how the process was implemented on specific developments, as well as an accompanying step-by-step manual.

Trauma Informed Design

In 2017, Shopworks Architecture became dedicated to applying a trauma-informed design approach to all projects, embracing this learning as ongoing and iterative. Our team has since documented this approach in a manual of the TID 4-Phase Process. The manual outlines activities to be carried out during the four phases, providing high-level guidance for carrying out the steps of a TID process.

Creating Restorative Communities

Biophilia is the instinctive bond between human beings and living systems. It is our innate urge to affiliate with other forms of life. The term literally means “love of life” and was coined by psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in 1973. The biologist Edward (E.O.) Wilson later popularized the term.

“Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.” (Wilson, 1984).

The Brain Science of Trauma

Trauma Informed Design

How Spaces Can Hurt or Heal

Trauma Informed Design

The Four-Phase Process and Case Studies

Trauma Informed Design

Trauma-Informed Property Management

Trauma Informed Design


Chad Holtzinger, AIA

Shopworks Architecture was formed in 2012 by Chad Holtzinger. The primary focus of the firm is urban infill development with a particular interest in affordable housing, transit oriented and mixed use development and community-oriented projects. Chad has practiced architecture for more than 20 years and has been licensed in Colorado since 2001. His career has revolved primarily around affordable housing design and mixed-use development in the City of Denver. His unique multidisciplinary approach to design results in innovative, high performing, enduring architecture.

Laura Rossbert

Laura joined Shopworks Architecture in 2019 after co-leading the development of Arroyo Village in Denver, which created a new homeless shelter for women and transgender individuals, 35 units of supportive housing, and 95 units of workforce housing using a trauma-informed lens. Laura brings to Shopworks her experiences as a non-profit leader and community organizer/community engagement specialist. She is using her expertise and knowledge in best practices in homelessness and supportive housing to inform building design at Shopworks and find solutions to barriers to affordable housing, with special attention to trauma, resiliency, and equity.

Jennifer brings to Shopworks over 15 years of social work experience in direct practice, program management, research and evaluation, training, and teaching. As a researcher and social scientist, her work focuses on social innovations and interdisciplinary collaboration
that address social inequity, with specific attention to the experience of homelessness and housing precarity.

She possesses expertise working with community partners and in community- based settings seeking to advance the development, testing, and dissemination of evidence-based practices.

Daniel Brisson

Dr. Daniel Brisson is a Professor, and the Director of the Center for Housing and Homelessness Research (CHHR), at the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver. Dr. Brisson’s scholarship focuses on poverty, high-poverty neighborhoods, affordable housing, and homelessness. Dr. Brisson has ongoing community partnerships around Colorado and the country with social service providers and other stakeholders interested in addressing challenges related to poverty. Dr. Brisson has written extensively on the role of neighborhood social cohesion as a mediator for the health and well-being of families living in high-poverty neighborhoods. Currently, Dr. Brisson is focusing on community partnerships with affordable housing providers and guaranteed basic income programs. Dr. Brisson teaches research methods, statistics, and macro social work practice with a focus on poverty alleviation.

Rachelle Macur has over 15 years in the industry, bringing a multi-disciplinary approach to the concept of sustainable development. With a background in Anthropology and Behavioral economics, her focus is on the cross-section of humans, nature, and the built environment and how we can engage individuals and organizations to reduce resource consumption and improve occupant health & wellbeing. Rachelle also consults with project teams and organizations focusing on neighborhood-scale regeneration, social change management, and biophilic design.


Funders: Sozosei Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Gary Community Investments, Housing and Homelessness Funders Collaborative, Energy Outreach Colorado, Group14 Engineering, Shopworks Architecture

Residents, Clients, and Staff at our non-profit partners: The Delores Project, St. Francis Center, Rocky Mountain Communities, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, Mental Health Center of Denver, Pinon Project, Manna Soup Kitchen, Volunteers of America – Colorado, EarthLinks, Denver Housing Authority, Volunteers in Ministry, Karis, Neighbor to Neighbor, Second Chance Center, TGTHR, Colorado Village Collaborative, Urban Peak, Housing Solutions for the Southwest, Catholic Charities, Homeward Pikes Peak

TID Collaborators: Design Resources for Homelessness, Urban Land Institute, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, SAMHSA, National Center for Trauma-Informed Care, Enterprise Community Partners, Corporation for Supportive Housing, National Equity Fund, Colorado Health Foundation, Housing Now Colorado, BlueLine Development, BeauxSimone Consulting, Element Properties, AIA Colorado, Connecting Paradigms, Designing for Human Health program at Boston Architectural College, Colorado Division of Housing




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