Tom Turner

Tom Turner, who is currently studying at The Glasgow School of Architecture, UK (RIBA Part 2), was shortlisted in the Architects for Health’s First Student Health Design Award (2007) for the following submission. For contact please email:

Chinese Health Culture Exchange, Glasgow

Brief: The thesis is a vehicle for personal study, in which the topic is selected by the student in accordance with her or his particular interests and developed in association with the tutorial staff. The project is developed through from concept design to design in detail.

Project Description: The Chinese health culture exchange will be a centre of cultural exchange between East and West; Glaswegians and the Chinese Community in Glasgow. The pro¬gramme of the building focuses on social and health issues. It is both a community centre for the Chinese community and a centre of traditional Chinese health care. This health care includes traditional Chinese medicine as well as various forms of chi cultivation such as tai chi. It is a building that inspires its users to reflect on the way they lead their lives and offers alternative approaches to lifestyle. The idea draws on two existing phenomena; An increasing interest in the UK in the health aspects of traditional Chinese culture such as tai chi and Chinese medicine, and a decentralized, under resourced support network for the Chinese community.

By addressing these two situations the building brings together two communities and offers a platform for cultural exchange.

The relationship between landscape, building and courtyard is key to the success of my scheme with regards to the health aspects of the programme. Traditional Chinese medicine and health practice developed from Taoist thought which took many of its ideas from a close observation of nature. These practices still benefit from contact with the ground and a relationship with the natural world.

The combination of a building protecting a courtyard and stepping up in section suggests the form of a spiral. The idea of a spiral allows a continuous wall to wrap around the courtyard. This wall roots the building in the ground and lifts up whilst spiraling to create a public entrance at street level. From the motorway edge the building can be seen to wrap around a sunken courtyard suggesting to the viewer an inner world within.

Making people more aware of their bodies and the natural environment deals simultaneously with issues of health and sustainability. These issues are evident in the built form of my thesis. Natural ventilation, passive solar gains and rainwater harvesting lead to a healthy building that deals with issues of environmental sustainability.

The programme promotes social integration. The building is both a community cen¬tre for the Chinese and a Chinese health centre for all. The form suggests a private space whilst inviting the public in. Noise pollution from the motorway is dealt with whilst maintaining the view. A courtyard is carved out of the hillside providing an intimate relationship with nature for the privately orientated health practices. A wall emerges from the land¬scape and wraps around the courtyard protecting it and lifting up to create a public entrance. A public route is maintained through the site and is used to bring the public into meaningful contact with the building.

I am proposing a place in Glasgow where the local Chinese community can find help integrating into life in the UK whilst celebrating their rich cultural heritage. A place where Glasweigans can go to find alternatives to the NHS and alternative models for healthy living. Such a place would bring together two diverse cultures and celebrate the qualities that we can learn from each other.

The Architects for Health
First Student Health Design Award
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