By Pont C Nelson, Post-Grad Student Ambassador, MA Interior and Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Arts

On 30th October 2018, the Post-Grad Community visited the ‘Living with Buildings: Health and architecture’ exhibition held at the Wellcome Collection. The members were greeted by our student ambassadors on arrival before sharing conversation over breakfast before being introduced to the exhibition by the lead curator Emily Sargent. The focus of the exhibition examines how buildings could contribute positive and negative impacts to our physical and mental health.

The Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust, which concerns the positioning of health in wider culture and society that makes us reconsider our own relationship with health in broader contexts. In today’s modern society, people spend more time than ever in metropolitan areas. The way in which architecture and urban planning is arranged, has an immense influence on our health and wellbeing, as well as the community as a whole.

The exhibition traces back to the early 19th century slum housing and appalling living conditions in overcrowded unsanitary areas of London, and the responses that architects and urban planner mounted to: the garden cities, suburban developments, and ideal utopian villages for factory workers. Part of the exhibition revisits the vision of postwar development – plans for new towns to control urban sprawl and reduce overcrowding in London.

One of the most interesting aspects of the tour was the talk concerning the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, where 72 innocent people lost their lives, stands as an urgent reminder to both residents and professionals of the importance of safe and secure housing for all.

Process works including drafts and sketches of the Modernist London health centres were on display, addressing the importance of fresh air, sunlight and rest – conditions that could be designed into the very fabric of the sanatorium building. The project talks about the tuberculosis disease, which was a public threat in the early 20th century.

The exhibition continues to the first-floor gallery where you will find innovative mobile health clinic designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, engineers BuroHappold and ChapmanBDSP, and independent humanitarian charity Doctors of the World. The design of this Global Clinic is to provide efficient and adaptable healthcare in emergency situations.

It is fascinating to see how current Post-Grad, PhD students and Alumni from different colleges across the UAL have come together to share the same interest in the area of health and architecture, which is a concerning global issue that needs urgent solutions. We listened to interesting ideas and reflective thoughts from many students whose courses are outside the built environment such as fine art and film-making. This exhibition has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for art and design students, with cross-disciplined exhibits from films, architectural models, literature to furniture design.

One of our students from LCC, Daniela told the team that her course is very fast-paced and people often get stuck with their own projects so coming to the event is a great opportunity to meet other Post-Grad students and hear their perspectives which could spark new ideas and solutions.

The exhibition will be open to public from 4 October 2018 – 3 March 2019 at the Wellcome Collection, Euston Road, NW1 2BE.

#Living with Buildings