Living with Buildings is a curious study of the structures which house and care for humanity. Each section takes on a different aspect of health, hospitalisation and healing in a dialogue between the changing needs of urban planning and developments in architecture.
Novelist Jack London, Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, and a range of artists including Rachel Whiteread, Camille Pissaro and Ilona Sagar present criticism around housing solutions, alongside increased understanding of how environments affect our mental and physical wellbeing collectively.
Highlights include Andreas Gursky’s panoramic image Paris, Montparnasse 1993 – a seemingly endless tower of windows, depicting crowded yet isolated living. Elsewhere, Erno Goldfinger’s designs for the Balfron Tower (1965) are a compelling testament to utopian possibility paired with dystopian reality. The ground floor’s chapter contains a moving representation of Maggie’s Centres for cancer sufferers, whilst occupying the first-floor gallery is a full-scale model of a mobile health clinic offering a flexible, robust and private programme for medical staff working in remote, less-populated and developed areas of the world.
The exhibition is a testament to the innovations of humanity across science and architecture. Destruction makes way for rejuvenation, a concept that can be seen amongst all the pieces on display, whilst the wider designs adhere to the changing needs of mass populations in today’s world.
Wellcome Collection poignantly asks the question: “We’re surrounded by buildings all the time, but how do they affect our physical and mental health?” In an age of disorder, anxiety, disconnection and social upheaval, this is a necessary and thought-provoking show. Read Iain Sinclair’s book of the same name for further illumination on the topic.
The exhibition runs at Wellcome Collection, London, until 3 March. Find out more here.
1. Living with Buildings: Health and Architecture, Wellcome Collection, 04 October 2018 – 03 March 2019. Paimio Sanitorium designed by Alvar Aalto, Finland. Photo credit: Wellcome Collection.