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A Moment’s Grace

Part 2 Project 2011
Charles Wellingham
University of the West of England Bristol UK
The focus of this unit is to assess innovative ideas for the uncertain future of the National Health Service, through the application of a new kind of “healthy” architecture. By redefining health to its widest possible terms, this project questions the role of spirituality in a truly holistic approach to mental healthcare, investigates the function of a calm and quiet architecture in the healing process, and culminates in the proposal for a new genus of cross sector community health institution.

The scheme is underpinned by a thesis championing locally focused healthcare facilities, informed by the Coalition Government’s Big Society reforms, within the existing asset of the UK’s church buildings. This allows a mutually beneficial partnership to be engineered, placing holistic wellbeing at the heart of communities, giving new income and lease of life to these vital heritage buildings, and creating non-religion specific focus on the positive biological benefits of meditation, contemplation and prayer.

This project speculates on a prototype for this manifesto in the grounds of St.Laurence church in Stroud, articulating an ‘architecture of serenity’ by balancing natural light, capitalising on its soul calming properties, and crafting a moment of grace in our everyday lives. The mixed use programme is divided by the dichotomy of opposing approaches to mental health treatment, creating a Chronos time zone of light and vibrant social exchange, and a Kairos time zone of shadow and quiet reflective solitude, allowing spatial tensions and pockets of unprogrammed ambiguity to emerge, with no agenda for the user other than to just be.

Architecturally the scheme becomes an integrated gradient of building and landscape, dissected by a new pedestrian route from which the diversity of functions emerge, and prompting three terraced public spaces of varying character and atmosphere. Uses are arranged to conceptually echo Maslow’s ‘rise to light’, navigating from the physicality and solidity of the human body, up through the values and esteem of man in society, and culminating at the evocation of ‘self actualisation’; the mind sanctuary, and the contemplation cloister that anchors the scheme back to the pious presence of St.Laurence Church.

Charles Wellingham

Tutor(s)

2011
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