Living With Buildings at the Wellcome Collection, is a free exhibition on until 3rd March 2019. It explores ways in which the built environment affects wellbeing.
The exhibition starts by dumping us back to London’s squalid 19th-century ‘slumdoms’, before lifting us into the high-rise heights of post-WWII ‘streets in the sky’. Changing notions of good design for healthy communities, and the evolution of suburbia and garden cities are examined.
The UK’s industrial tycoons’ also once turned their hands to designing model towns, from cotton mill owner Sir Titus Salt’s no pub policy, to George Cadbury’s Bournville village where residents were cheerfully issued a set of ‘Suggested Rules of Health’ with best wishes from the man himself. Such places inspired Sir Henry Wellcome to initiate plans for his own version Wellcomeville.
Hospital history is followed by premier designs of healing buildings, from architect Alvar Aalto’s sanatorium in Paimio, Finland, to the excellent charity Maggie’s which takes a unique and sensitive approach to designing therapeutic spaces for those affected by cancer.
Artist Giles Round created a special colour palette for the exhibition, taking inspiration from Aalto’s Paimio – a pioneering sanatorium design with a highly coloured interior, ‘Colour in Industry Today’ – a mid-20th-century guide for industrial settings, and ancient Heliopolis where colour and light were used to create health. The rich deep palette is used effectively throughout the space, framing the art and walls.
For an examination of health in the city, it’s well worth a look!