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Urban Health Place

Part 1 Project 2002
Richard Smith
Elizabeth King
University of Plymouth | UK
Dead segments of the city breed buildings and public spaces made unhealthy through decay and non-use, unsustainable because of the dislocated sense of community.

Bretonside, within Plymouth City centre is a dead segment - missing a sense of identity and respect – factors contributing to urban health. Previously a service area, Bretonside has recently turned the corner with injections of capital from various developers who have prospered from its reduced land value.

My design proposal for a building located prominently in the heart of Bretonside, aims to tackle this issue of urban health and create a place dedicated solely to the community, the Urban Health Place.

The building’s form, arrangement and overall concept arose from my three main strategies which derived from my detailed site analysis:

Assemblage – Lanes - Community


– The aggregation of separate forms to emulate the stature of neighbouring buildings.
– The interpretation of the context to fuse existing Industrial building typology with an organic mechanical / 21st Century twist.
– The combination of vernacular local materials with modern building technologies to encapsulate rough Plymouth Limestone behind crystalline planar glazing.


- Interlocking and weaving lanes form the axis and vistas into the Urban Health Place courtyard and reception spaces, tempting the passer by with a glimpse of green and tranquil space.


- Providing relaxing and secure open public space
- creating a meeting place for locals at the same time as encouraging healthy living through service provision.
- Improving the urban health of the community and therefore the areas cultural sustainability.

Richard Smith
Elizabeth King

Richard has carried out an extensive exploration in the development of his design for the Health club on a corner site near the Barbican and harbour area of Plymouth. His innovative proposal for the use of gabions, filled with local limestone, and sealed in glass units, as an external skin to the buildings was made as a deliberate response to the need for privacy, but desire for filtered impressions from both within and around the building. His strategic occupation of the site, breaking the accommodation into three masses, and drawing the user into the site between these- into a sun filled courtyard space, provided a very effective entry sequence for the activities of the Health Club. The glazed atrium space deliberately supports the energy and ventilation management of the building, the social focus of the club, and the imageability of the Health Club in the city.

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