Author Archives: rainwu

Hackney Wick Healing Centre

How could Hackney Wick Healing centre inform the society of serenity in the age of information and innovate a new sustainable social model?

Hackney Wick and Fish Islands consists of a demographic of working class residents, young artists and industrial workers. The health profiles show that The Wick (Residential area including North of Hackney Wick and South of Homerton) has a higher rate of health problems over the UK average, especially in Mental health (47% over UK average) and premature deaths (i.e. cancer; 57% over UK average). Interestingly, 8% of the population (8,000 people) in the Wick are ‘carers’ providing support to ill individuals between 1-50 hours a week. This conjours my question of a social energy that needs to be nurtured.

With over 50% unemployed working age residents, the rate of residents’ mental health problems also appear to ascend. Since the start of the economic crisis, 2.1 million more prescriptions anti-depressant were given in 2008 than that in 2007, there is an increasing demand for mental health care while the NHS budget being cut, it is exactly the social energy that is apparent in The Wick that needs to be celebrated.

Social critic and writer, John Thackara, illustrated on his website ‘Doors of Perception’ that 85% of the health care happened outside the medical system, focuses on the effect of spiritual, parental, mentor, peer and working relationships. Combining the recent study of ‘The Placebo Effect’, research shows that patients being given a sugar pill recovered better than ones without; patients being given 4 sugar pills recovered better than ones being given two; patients being given a salt water injection recovered better than that of 4 sugar pills.This phenomenon suggests that the power of mind could be over the physical power and touches upon the how people are so influenced by media, memory and other’s opinion.

We are living in an economy based on consumption: I’m interested in how a shifting paradigm of architecture could assist and reinforce a shift in minds- shifting citizens of consumption to citizens of social energy and emotion. Taking the precedent of The People’s Supermarket in London, members join to receive discounts on the goods, provided that they give time into helping out in the store. I’m interested in a social over economical community run centre, that seek to provide serenity and social caring environment to help healing of patients suffering disorders or mental health problems. The centre provides not only healing spaces for patients but also a space of ‘little visual stimulation’, such as darkness, and allow time for artists to use as a space of contemplation and gathering thoughts away from the frantic life of London and lively energy of the Hackney Wick artist neighbourhood.

This will be achieved by a new typology of building that embraces the public and provides very little cues of conventional architectural arrangement, in order to encourage users to engage, reinterpret and re-adapt the space. Gradation of natural light would play a large part of shaping the mood of the spaces where darkness is addressed equally as important as light.

I’m interested in the development of fibre optics as a building fabric, which may be able to double up with transferring information in the form of light signals. As a metaphorical building material, the property of fibre optics would be in part inverted to use as a pure form of light transmittance, providing the therapy centre a place of retreat of simplifying all the external stimuli into a gradation of light intensity.

The property of fiber optics provides an opportunity to transfer light from a place of abundance to a place of deprivation without energy consumption. This could also induce an experiential and ephemeral effect of lighting in the interior. With further development of this material, it could be used as an aggregate for concrete to provide a heavy materiality in the healing centre for solidity and enclosure. The centre could also incorporate the latest technology of transmitting information through LED’s light intensity.

The end goal is to develop a self sustained healing centre that grows and can be adapted by the users over time, providing free social health care to the local residents and innovate a social over economic model of health care during the time of economic recession. The project emphasis on the time of presence, the authenticity of experience. National Health Services in the UK currently consumes 17% of public budgets and has a high consumption of energy; could a shifting paradigm of health care model invest in the potential of social energy as suppose to oil energy?