Madlove: A Designer Asylum

It ain’t no bad thing to need a safe place to go mad.

2014 – Onwards


Madlove is a long term project that blends research, design, building and exhibitions to reimagine mental health support and the enviroments this support happens in. It happens in art spaces, hospitals and community spaces.

Madlove statement of intent 2014.

It ain’t no bad thing to need a safe place to go mad. The problem is that a lot of psychiatric hospitals are more punishment than love… they need some Madlove.

Is it possible to go mad in a positive way? How would you create a safe place in which to do so? If you designed your own asylum, what would it be like?

The desire is to find a positive space to experience mental distress… and enlightenment.

The project is bringing together people with and without mental health experiences, mental health professionals and academics, artists and designers – and everyone else on the spectrum.

The aim is to build the most crazy, bonkers, mental asylum we dare dream of: a desirable and playful space to ‘go mad’, countering the popular myth that mental illness is dangerous and scary. Together we are attempting to create a unique space where mutual care blossoms, stigma and discrimination are actively challenged, divisions understood, and madness can be experienced in a less painful way. This temporary structure will be a reflexive and responsive space for exploring and redesigning madness.

Madlove is not the lunatics taking over the asylum (it’s much more radical than that), we are proposing that we should design, build and run the asylum too. This significant mutual care project invites people to share knowledge, experience and openly support and inform each other.

Through Madlove, we can begin to understand the power relations between patient and staff, lived expert and academic expert, artist and audience, neuro-diverse and neuro-typical…

It’s time to put the treat back into treatment.


Key Collaborator on Madlove: Hannah Hull

Design collaborators: Benjamin Koslowski and James Christian | Projects Office | muf Architecture/Art | Sacha Gilmour

Curation collaborators: Caroline Moore | Emily Gee | Barbara Rodríguez Muñoz | Clare Barlow | Vanessa Bartlett

We’ve been helped along the way by: Anna Zagorska | Kirsi Väänänen | Sue Keen | Sian Baxter

Madlove research.

Workshops – Our research process was undertaken through a series of workshops. You can read about these workshops and view the illustrations from our workshops here. 2014 – onwards.

The Data – The suggestions and ideas collected during our research workshop can be viewed here.

Health Spaces.

Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Sick Children. 2016.

Boardmoor Hospital. 2016/17.

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. 2018/19.