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The Healthy Mind in Manchester

Part 1 Project 1999
Suzanne Garrett
University of Sheffield, UK
Whilst the project is concerned with the mental well being of city dwellers, its development originated in the desire for an antidote to the pace and stress of urban life; for space and liberation found at the seaside some distance away.
The building is a representation of seaside within the urban fabric, an environment for reflection and renewal, providing distance from the city through spatial, material and spiritual experiences. It represents a response to varying degrees of mental well being, from the everyday stresses and anxieties of those living and working in cities to the acute distress experienced by sufferers of mental illness.
Located on a busy street in Manchester, the building comprises various functional elements [Refuge, Leisure Centre and Respite Housing] that inhabit a volume defined by adjacent buildings railway arches above and a river below.
The resultant Interstitial Space acts as a public circulation pier through the site and accepts over-spill from the various functional elements. This space represents the thin line between the healthy and troubled mind and thus acts as a place for their meeting. It is a place where the conscious and anonymous interaction of different parties using the building assists in the breakdown of preconceptions and prejudices presently associated with mental health.

Suzanne Garrett

Sue Garrett has been a consistently good student throughout her career at Sheffield. Her strength lies in her approach to design and the way she clearly thinks through an architectural problem. She is a consummate draftsman and can visualise her ideas fluently and with ease. Her major
project concerned breaking the stigma of the mentally ill through a design for a building for the healthy mind in Manchester. Manchester became the setting for an investigation into the left over spaces right in the city
centre that are specific to post-industrial city and could become the ideal urban retreat. Sue's research led her to a number of discussions with professionals in the field of mental health and the project was a considered synthesis of the knowledge of what is lacking in the care of our mental well being in society and how she might contribute to that through her design.
We judged this to be an outstanding project as it pursued an
intellectual idea, seriously researched leading to
innovative design through to a level of exceptional detail. Sue was also prepared to take risks with her drawing to expand her understanding of the enquiry.

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