the public elevations
the principal pool
GLASGOW WELLNESS ATHENAEUM
sector // health & recreation
location // glasgow, uk
year // 2016
stage // conceptual
Church Street is adjacent to the permanently closed Western Infirmary and acts as a passage between Dumbarton Road and Byres Road. The site selected used to be the grounds of Church Street School and a swimming pool (1903 – 1997) and in 2002 been categorised listed by Historic Scotland, preventing it from demolition. The approach as an athenaeum, viewing in line that the former Western Infirmary and the Maggie’s Center on Dumbarton Road gives the area a medical and healthcare significance to Glasgow, as well as further research into ‘The Glasgow Effect’ suggests that Glasgow has the least healthy population in the whole of the United Kingdom, that it would be fitting if an urban building were to contribute and educate the city in terms of health and wellbeing. (theme) .
Also, given that the site has a historical significance to the local community, as suggested when demolition works were prevented after the Hillhead Community Council lobbied Historic Scotland to list the building in 2002, that the local community feel a nostalgic attachment towards the building (personal opinion). Hence, the idea was to reinvent the former bath house (swimming pool) and give it a therapeutic reinterpretation, to serve the local community, with the nearest such facility only found on Arlington Street near Park Circus, which is only accessible for private subscribers. To restore the site’s function as a bath house would not be enough, as there were reasons as to why it became dysfunctional in the first place. Therefore, meditation was seen as a complementing principle programme to the athenaeum.
As far as meditation is concerned, there are not a lot of public facilities around Glasgow to conduct meditation classes, mostly being housed in an office building. As a matter of fact, meditation has become a seemingly popular activity among Glaswegians, that there becomes a growing demand for a public space to conduct meditation, suggested through the amount of meditation groups increasing but lack proper facilities. (programme explanation)
Therefore, the objective on a macro context would be to promote good physical and mental health, providing a landmark for Glasgow to use as an address for meditation accompanied with bath facilities. On a micro context, it would be to respect and give meaning back to Church Street, by restoring and reinterpreting the area as a healthcare significance to Glasgow. Other aims would also include, reinstating meaningful purpose to the site, allow public access to healthcare education, provide recreation and landscape qualities to the site, and engage the nostalgic connection with the history of the site. (project aims) Thus, there needs to be prerequisite considerations into approaching the project before translating into architecture (design considerations):
1. Sanitary and hygiene to be firmly emphasised
2. interstitial spaces to be informed to create spatial qualities
3. Comprehensive procession through journey of spaces from public’s point of view
4. Scale and volume of main spaces to be controlled.