Such an update requires an integration of our collective sublimation of science and technology, but equally a reassessment of the natural and artificial while drawing on well-embedded cultural notions of the elements of health. If placebos are many times more effective today than they were 30 years ago    and the therapeutic effect of simply “going through the motions” of the modern ritual of health care delivery is the most likely explanation for  placebo drift , then this phenomenon underlines our cultural conditioning to respond to given stimulus with collectively shared physiological and psychological feedback. We share this response with cultures and moments in history we would consider to be less developed than our own.
  The Placebo Drift is a barge tethered to and surrounded by a deployable island sited on the Manhattan waterfront, accessible by launch.. As counterpoint to the typical frenetic New York health club, this project offers a speculative, slow health ritual, that is dependant on an output of time rather than effort (or money).  The barge is conceptually divided into three levels, each devoted to an element traditionally associated with preventative health therapies: water, air and light. Striating these elements indulges our assumption that reordering nature prescriptively bears physiological and psychological effects, both stimulatory and ameliorative, emphasizing basic human environmental responses.     [1]
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   Above:     A matrix of architectural strategies that have been used, historically, in the name of improving health - or at least ameliorating conditions in a context of recovery. Modernist principles drawn from late Victorian notions of the virtues of light and air generate spatial, ameliorative strategies. Opposing this are physiological and psychological reactive strategies – rooted in Foucault’s notion of a “coefficient of adversity”. Examples include Arakawa and Gins Biocleave house: designed to throw the body off balance, under the assumption that the physiological response to conditions that challenge the occupant is tonic and restorative.  To the same effect, yet coming from an opposing theoretical standpoint is Philippe Rahm, who works under the premise that there is no real line between architecture and the body. His strategies include maniulating atmospheres, including using artificial means to generate physiological effects, a strategy that evokes the modernist mountain top sanitorium, although in the 1920s the hypoxic effects of altitude were not yet known.  This matrix lays out these strategies that might be incorporated or rejected.
  The barge hull is one large pool divided into soft-sided pools fed by water that circulates through a roof top solar bladder, heating the smaller soft-sided pools, they expand and contract with temperature of water. The stations of the water level introduce the constituent to contrast therapy, of going from one extreme to another,  the organizing principle of the barge and fundamental to the idea of placebo as having clinical effect.
  The air zone is  the void between the hull of the barge and the volume above. Floating on the surface of the pool are several occupiable spheres that seal upon entry. The air oxygen saturation in the sphere increases and decreases in prescribed waves, creating endocrinal effects of hypoxia and hypobaria. Upon completion of the prescribed course, the occupants "roll" their sphere into position under the retractable claw that elevates the sphere to the light level. 
  The top level is one large volume under 12 oculi that manipulate natural light either as colimators, refracting light down to its constituent wavelegnths and filtering a specific zone, or as  fresnels, intensifying daylight properties, or blocking them out completely. The space can then be divided into seperate zones each with its own light quality, or function as a whole volume.  The facade is equally regulable, comprising rotating three sided verticle louvers., that augment the quality of light desired on the interior, either blocking all natural light, providing full specturm artificial light, or opening up to the exterior. These rotating banks of full spectrum florescents can have the effect of the effect of providing maximum daylight 24 hours a day, as  light therapy for shift change and seasonal affective disorder, regardless of time of day. They also provide a constantly changing surface as the visual identity of the barge.
 ___________________________________________    Elements of Craig Cook's Masters thesis Spring 2010, Princeton University School of Architecture. The project remains a work in progress, informed by    ongoing encounters  with the medical industrial complex.       Advisors: Jane Harrison, Liz Diller      Much thanks to final review assistants:      Ang Li, Phoebe Springstubb, Jaffer Kolb, Chris Hillyard, Chris Oliver, Sonya Chao
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