oscillating skyline proposes to aid mental therapy oscillating skyline proposes to aid mental therapy
jul 14, 2016

oscillating skyline proposes to aid mental therapy

oscillating skyline proposes to aid mental therapy




sam phong nguyen, royal college of art graduate, has created a scale model of what he calls a ‘utopia for mental health’.  driven by a bespoke engine system with high precision brushless servo motors, the project imagines a swinging skyline to aid mental therapy. it accompanies nguyen’s research into eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), where repeated eye movements from left to right have been shown to banish traumatic memories; as well as ecotherapy, which aims to improve mental and physical well-being through experiences with nature.


visuali demonstration of how the skyline works. video courtesy of sam phong nguyen




the installation consists of two parts: a swinging landscape; and an architecture model. the latter functions as a lens through which the audience observes the swinging dreamscape. as the audience leans in to peer through the windows, the landscape’s hidden bottom becomes visible. this floating bilateral landscape is a metaphor for the human’s complex mindscape, and is based on sigmund freud’s ‘iceberg theory’ where different layers of consciousness are situated within the human’s complicated psyche. the top layer represents the conscious side, while the bottom stands for the subconscious. the internal conflict between them can lead to uncontrollable emotions and behaviours.

oscillating skyline to aid mental therapy designboom
focusing on one particular point of view then follow the swinging landscape




the project draws its influenced from nguyen’s year-long experiments with psychotherapy. it aims to envision future endeavours that man may undertake for the sake of mental well-being, and clear up public misconceptions about the field. for example, the impact of an individual’s surrounding environment on their mental health, and it is little known that the collapse of one’s mind is an involuntary reaction that can be caused by several triggers. although the project may sound like a dream, the designer posits that a cross-disciplinary team of engineers, physicists, urban planners, architects and landscape artists could make it a reality. nguyen also draws from his own cultural heritage: in his home country of vietnam, the art of creating artificial landscapes is known as ‘hon non bo’. it is closely related to the chinese penjing and japanese bonkei.

oscillating skyline to aid mental therapy designboom
the swinging landscape creates a soothing and calming feeling




would we go to the extreme of modifying our skyline for the sake of mental wellbeing? the project presents a poetic vision of the future where a more open society could develop new possibilities for mental health care. perhaps one day we will observe a swinging skyline through our windows. oscillating skyline was part of showRCA 2016, it was displayed in stevens building, royal college of art, kensington campus.

oscillating skyline to aid mental therapy designboom
exhibition display at showRCA 16




designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: martin hislop | designboom

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