Madlove: A Designer Asylum


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.

Major Commissions.

Group Therapy. FACT, Liverpool. 2015

Bedlam: The Asylum and Beyond. Wellcome Collection, London. 2016

Royal Hospital For Sick Children, Edinburgh. Supporting Projects Office. 2016/17

Broadmoor Hospital, West London NHS Trust. In collaboration with Projects Office and MUF Architecture/Art. 2016/17. Details to follow.

Great Ormond Street Hospital and Wellcome Collection. London. 2018/19.

A Madlove Take Over Festival. Heart of Glass. St Helens. 2019


UK Workshops.

Southbank Centre |Fierce Festival | Nottingham Contemporary | NAGAS | FACT | Bethlem Royal Hospital NHS | Broadland Clinic NHS | Broadmoor Hospital NHS | Core Arts | Guild Lodge NHS | East London NHS Trust | Kings College | Royal Hospital for Sick Children Edinburgh NHS.

International Workshops.

Homo Novus/Riga Mental Health Hospital | Prague Quadrennial | De Bascule (Amsterdam) | House of Empowerment (Bali,Indonesia) | Design Academy Eindhoven | Dr Guislain Hospital (Ghent) | Gessnerallee (Zurich).

Artist Talks.

LSE (London Live) | Design In Mental Health Conference | Artsadmin | Dragon Cafe | West London NHS Trust | Architecture and Mental Health Conference | ELMHFT | TEDx Munich | Gessnerallee, Zurich | MIR Festival, Athens | Sudpol, Luzern | Tate Britain, London | Gessnerallee, Zurich | Roxy Theater, Basel | Homo Novus, Riga | Steirischer Herbst, Graz | HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin | Vooruit, Ghent | Schwankhalle, Bremen

Madlove has received support from Unlimited, Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England.