Maurice Shapero has unveiled concept plans for a ‘revolutionary’ new health centre in Liverpool ‘which not only treats, but prevents illness’
The triangular 900m² Great Homer Street health and wellbeing centre in Everton is being billed as a ‘life-enhancing’ space, which combines doctors’ surgeries with communal spaces and multi-functional areas allowing for ‘indoor and outdoor concerts’.
In May this year the existing Great Homer Street medical centre will be demolished and the Shapero vision is being used as part of local consultations for a new facility.
The designer’s view
The idea is to address the duality of an open community building with the introverted/confidential nature of a doctor’s practice. The triangular form is open at each end, but closed along its length. Each end contains public halls with out door rooms (open) and the central area the surgeries (closed). The west end is open to St Anthony’s façade with an outdoor room for waiting and contemplation.
This building is a long roof. Everyone, both patients and doctors, under the same roof.
There is a shift in the geometries from upper to lower. The triangular form aligns symmetrically with St Anthony’s Church - its axis runs at a slight angle to the site and urban grid. The lower space aligns with the ground or urban grid. The lower is open and will spread out into the landscape connected to gardens, the upper is closed, private, confidential. A wall following the geometry of the urban grid cuts up and into the bottom of the triangular form, this is how you get in. A stair or lift bring you up into the centre of the triangle facing the beautiful facade of St Anthony’s Church.
I saw a beautiful timber structure in Scarborough, basically a traditional barn. It’s very easy to see how this ancient form could work with the ideas I’ve been developing for Everton Wellbeing Centre.
What would a life enhancing space contain?
In essence, but not functionally, parallels can be drawn between the church building. This archetype traditionally sits at the centre of a community both physically and philosophically. The church in the village I live in completes the design and without it there would be no centre. The spire can be seen from everywhere. Hence the alignment with St Anthony’s Church - its form looms announcing an omnipotent presence.
I’m not at all religious, but open to the possibilities or purpose of religion in creating a sense of well being. If I conveniently ignore the political and cultural power structures which fuel the religious organisation, at its core spirituality is about peace, peace of mind - which, in my experience, relaxes the body and strengthens the immune system. This coupled with nourishing nutrition and consistent movement is the base of ‘wellbeing’.
Sound and music will be a part of this project. The acoustics of the space will elicit a particular feeling, think of how churches sound. Not that this building should sound like a church, but it should have its own resonance. Think of a band stand in a park, or church bells. A new sound for a centre of health? A multi-functional space, indoor and out door for concerts or health giving music lessons. Music and well being go together.
Reading, communal and alone. This is a building in a park or large garden. A park with lots of pockets for reading and contemplation. Small pavilions or shelters. Under a tree.
The park, or large garden around the building would encourage movement. A path around the grounds for people to stroll, it may undulate in and out of the building, the yellow brick road, but not literally, doctors replace wizards. The space around the building becomes the waiting room. Find a technology which liberates the waiting from the waiting room.
A multi-functional community hall for all of the above.
Art spaces for exhibitions and production.
Designer: Maurice Shapero
Location: Everton, Great Homer Street
Type Of Project: Wellbeing centre
Client: Dr Simon Abrams. Architecture and design adviser Dr Robert Macdonald of Liverpool John Moores University.
Gross internal floor area: 900m²