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Thelasso Therapy Retreat

Part 2 Project 2001
Toby Mcculloch
Newcastle University Newcastle-Upon-Tyne UK
Imagine a seascape.

Now in your mind's eye abstract out and isolate the horizon, or the ever changing colourful pallet that washes the sky. Then capture the awesome power of the ocean's tides, or focus your attention on the sea's sensation over your skin.

This is Thelasso therapy.

Thelasso is a therapy that abstracts out nutrients, sensations, and the emotions originating from the sea. The leading aspiration of this project was to translate this ethos into a retreat of paralleled architectural language and expression. The project took on a holistic approach to architectural design, integrating conceptual, theoretical, social, economic, environmental, structural, constructional, servicing, and all building regulatory issues. Fundamental to this approach was the requirement to formulate a brief. The brief not only defining the physical practicalities, but also clearly characterising the essence of the emotional and spiritual requirements. The design explored, and examined the interaction of structure with the "individual's" emotional and temporal experience of space. Internally, these conceptual spaces were legitimised down to the design practicalities of materiality, structure, and environmental comfort. The therapy's ethos forming not only the conceptual foundation, but also the cohesive glue that informed and bound all of the competing design considerations together.

Toby Mcculloch


The Design Thesis is an opportunity for students not only to further the development of their design skills, but also to explore architectural issues that are of particular interest to them. This student's Thelasso Therapy Retreat on Holy Island fully exploits this opportunity.

Thelasso therapy is the treatment of a wide range of ailments through the remedial poperties of seawater. Whether or not one is convinced by the advocates of such treatment, one cannot help but recognise that the rise in their popularity is symptomatic of modern society's need to counterbalance its urbanistic and technologically driven culture by reasserting man's sense of corporeal being and of the sustaining and invigorating power of nature. It is this sense, rather than the therapy itself, that is the focus of the student's work.

In the early stages of the project the student presented his tutors with a series of beautifully rendered interior sketches evoking the qualities of light, space and materiality that was the essence of his design objectives. Throughout the development of his design the student never lost sight of this acute concern for the creation of "place", a quality that was reinforced by every stage of the process - from scheme design through to the technical substantiation.

This student's project exemplifies the holistic approach to design encouraged at the university which values both ideas and their material substantiation.

2001
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