Jonathan Pugh

Jonathan Pugh, who is studying at The Mackintosh School of Architecture, was awarded First Prize in the Architects for Health’s First Student Health Design Award (2007) for the following submission. For contact please email:

Glasgow Gartnavel Healing Pool

(Numbers 00 provide a key to the 4 submitted drawings)

The brief for Gartnavel Healing Pool asked for a ‘holistic’ and ‘sustainability’ conscious design to fit a programme of hydrotherapy and yoga treatment within a derelict site of Gartnavel Hospital campus, Glasgow.

Gartnavel hospital campus is itself made up of seemingly random planning decisions contributing to layer upon layer of redundant derelict buildings [01]. The project aimed to salvage the current ground condition and substructure on site (an existing ambulance depot provided a floor made up of 32,000 tiles, 8 reinforced concrete portal frames and 30 cubic metres of breeze block) [02], by re-cladding the frames, and manipulating the form of the shed in order to harness fresh air and natural light [03]. In response to Ian Miller’s [04] observations that the lifetime and function of buildings on the campus are temporal and chaotic, and to communicate that a shed carries as rich a story as a church, the design twists the industrial archaeology of the hospital campus to form new functions and an alternative hospital atmosphere (e.g. existing Bradbury ambulance hoists are converted into wheelchair lifts for the new pool [05]).

The patents journey within the building is organised by colour to distinguish the varied spaces within the sheds new microclimate that progressively change the conditions of wet/dry, cool/warm and dark/light in accordance with the hydrotherapy and yoga programmes [08]. The microclimate beneath the frame and above the new floor line created by the elevated pool, is mediated locally within pre-fabricated garden shed changing rooms [09], showers and toilets to give an abundance of space or intimacy where needed, and discourage connotations of hospital environments. A swimming pool is a beach; a hydrotherapy pool can be both a hospital and a beach. Decisions on the design layout have been made on cost and maintenance efficiency [10], wherever possible incorporating sponsorship from local manufacturers (such as the donated selection of hydrotherapy bath typologies [11]).

The pool elevated above the floor makes space for a thermal labyrinth beneath [12], bringing the pool in as an active player in the heating dynamics of the building. The function of the pool cover is expanded to become a sunshade, insulator and space divider by day, in addition to minimising pool heat loss at night [13]. The portal frames themselves separate a mediated layer of air from the microclimate, and guide fresh air into either the thermal labyrinth beneath the pool and then upwards through the porous floor surface, or into the enclosed envelope that circulates around the pool hall, taking fresh air in, and stale, wet air out [14]. The stale wet air is then passed through a heat exchanger and condenser to harvest a proportion of the 50 litres of water that are lost each hour through evaporation (with collected rainwater this system can save up to 70% of the fresh water consumption of the building) [15].

In anticipation of Glasgow’s rapidly changing and often severe weather conditions, the control of the buildings services is designed to be easily managed by the only constant user: the receptionist [16]. It was a key anticipation in the design that the ‘holistic’ environment depends largely on the character, mood and actions of the receptionist, and that the necessary active systems in the building should be assembled in an easily controllable format for this individual to become involved in the healing process for the patients. Through this individual, the time spent, condition of light, and temperature is controlled carefully in 9 different space typologies within the building [17].

The Architects for Health
First Student Health Design Award
was sponsored by


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