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Community Arts and Wellbeing Centre

Victoria Street, Edinburgh

Year 3  Constructing and Conceiving Architecture

"A person living in a modern city or suburb can, for the first time in history, go through an entire day - or an entire life - mostly encountering complete strangers. They can be surrounded by others and yet feel deeply, dangerously alone”

(Junger, S., 2016)

The importance of public space in cities today seems to have diminished in comparison to most historical periods. Coincidentally, despite incredible advances in the fields of medicine, science and technology, rates of anxiety, depression and chronic loneliness are the highest in recorded history. In the elderly in particular, social isolation is directly linked to long term illness and premature death. In fact, studies have shown that loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. Nestled deep within the Old Town of Edinburgh, the Community Arts and Wellbeing Centre provides a breathing space- a calm oasis in the middle of the bustling, impersonal urban environment where everyone is welcome to participate in sociable activites, helping to improve both their mental and physical health. It acts as a connection between several layers of the city, linking the Royal Mile down to the Cowgate.

It aims to create a peaceful and calming atmosphere through the following; simplicity- having clear routes though the building the visitor feels relaxed and does not have to worry about where to go, repitition - repeating elements in the architectural language provides a sense of reassurance and predictablility, and materiality - a simple and restricted palette of contextual materials ensures the visitor is not visually overwhelmed and helps the building to blend into the surrounding urban fabric. It is open and accessible to all, catering for those with physical and psychological impairments. It is non- discriminatory, non-elitist and embodies fundamental socialist values. The existing buildings on the site are retained as much as possible within reason, as arguably old buildings can provide a sense of familiarity and comfort. The design is sensitive, modest and respects the neighbouring buildings, in particular the Central Library which relies heavily on natural light entering its West facade. The underlying theme of the architecture is to encourage social interaction through visual links, free movement and positive spaces.

Final Grade - A3

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