Reflections for Wellness Centre
Colum Drive, Cathays, Cardiff, Wales, CF, United Kingdom
Promote the design of pleasant urban spaces that improve human health and wellbeing, by increasing sunlight exposure through light reflections.
While urban settings are often associated with deteriorating health, this thesis aims to manifest the potential of urban pockets in contributing to people’s physical and mental health. The design and explorations undertaken revolve around the idea of light 'amplification' through reflections, as a means of increasing its intensity and surface area that it covers.
The design, therefore, emerges from attentive site analysis in order for it to be entirely adjusted to its specific conditions, with the goal of maximising the health benefits associated with sunlight exposure, but also with careful consideration to the risks arising from excessive exposure.
Understanding the invaluable benefits of sunlight exposure and vitamin D -also known as the sunshine vitamin- to our physical and mental health, forms a strong foundation for the aspirations of urban space design. Specifically, the highly enclosed nature of the selected interstitial site and its limited access to direct sunlight stresses the need to determine ways of making efficient use of the sunlight available in the UK.
The overall ambition is for this proposal to act as an exemplar and reveal ways of optimising the design of other urban pockets while promoting health and wellbeing.
Attentive physical and digital analyses have been undertaken, focusing on the site's direct sunlight exposure, 2D and 3D shadow patterns and existing reflections throughout the course of a year. These have formed the basis of the design, suggesting a specific arrangement of a series of reflective panels placed within the site, to make the most of the increased exposure to direct sunlight with increasing distance from the ground.
An iterative process of recording the changing inclination of 6 mirrors that simulated the large window on site, resulted in 2 forms that produced light convergence (concave) and light divergence (convex). These were then CNC'ed to investigate how patterns of amplified light may affect comfort levels and inhabitation, through on and off-site lux and temperature surveys.
Ultimately, the proposed concave-convex arrangement of the panels, arising from these explorations, is such so as to enhance the existing reflections on site and generate varying light amplification patterns. In practice, this includes moments of high intensity (light convergence) during certain parts of the day, as well as moments of lower intensity where reflected sunlight is spread over a large surface area.
This space is to complement the adjacent activities -without compromising the existing buildings' access to light- and adjust to the needs of the end-user throughout the academic year, acting as a flexible study space during morning hours and a dining space during lunch break.
The intervention as a whole, is derived from the analyses and explorations presented and aims to embrace the assets and constraints of the site, to transform this from a currently underused space into a vibrant oasis.