‘Growing a connection’ is a project located in Stockport which aims to heal humans and nature through biophilic design. The inspiration for this project stems from the worsening mental and ecological crises in the UK. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience poor mental health every year and biodiversity is rapidly decreasing due to human exploitation of our environment. The holistic approach adopted in my design utilises the interconnection of people and nature to provide a space of healing for both visitors and the environment, known as ecotherapy. Humans and nature are intrinsically linked and spending time with trees and green spaces is proven to have many mental and physical benefits; including increased self esteem and mental wellbeing, and a reduction of the stress hormone, cortisol. In this way, my project focuses on creating a space whereby users can connect with nature and each other through mindful activities such as gardening, yoga, and meditation.
I selected timber as both the building's primary and secondary structures due to its low embodied carbon and its organic aesthetic. The use of sustainable materials helps to reduce the building's environmental impact, whilst performing at passivhaus standard, resulting in low operational carbon. Due to the riverside site, the building is raised on timber columns to reduce flood damage and increase longevity, thus increasing the building’s resistance to the changing climate. A design feature is enabling users to feel immersed in nature, as a sanctuary from urban life, with visual connections throughout. To achieve this, an opening allows a tree to grow through the building and a timber walk-way leads to meditation pods and viewing platforms over the river. The project's overall aim is to create a harmonious space in a historically industrial location where humans and non-humans can not only coexist, but thrive.