The proposed brief asks us to design a new model health and wellbeing center for Margate and the wider Thanet area. Located on the existing ‘ruins’ of the Cliftonville Lido, our design will develop a programme for a scheme responding to and enhancing the immediate local context whilst establishing links to the wider social and urban context.


The design is derived from a mapping, scenario and strategy-based approach. The gender ratio in the UK is of 0.97. Men are also statistically more susceptible to mental health illness and they are given less attention and care for it. In Margate, they are more prone to partaking in violent situations, to being associated with drug problems and to turn to crime. StrongMen, our client, are a fully registered charity with aims and ambitions to tackle emotional and mental health issues.

The main idea of the project is to create contrasting environments of disconnection and of introspection for men dealing with mental health issues. As can be seen in Adam N. Furman’s work, his busy, colorful environments trigger your imagination and “take you out of yourself”, they create a disconnecting experience. On the contrary, Luis Barragan’s simple enclosed gardens create spaces of silence, solitude and serenity, ideal for introspection.

Through therapeutic architecture and biophilic design, our strategy will be to create these two contrasting areas. The existing built structure of the lido will be kept and repurposed for the disconnection therapy, the facades will be conserved and covered in moss walls. A covered corridor (engawa) of colorful busy stained glass design will link these spaces. Within the basement which can flood, rowing facilities will be established. The new introspection therapy structure will be built in the existing parking lot area of the site (including private consultations rooms, bedrooms for patients and administration).

The new intervention’s plan spirals away from the more active disconnection area in order to create a space of privacy for introspection. On the natural surface of the rammed earth walls, the use of color psychology will enhance the patients’ experience as it will help them feel more comfortable withing their surroundings (see elevations). Moreover, the strategic placing of each façade’s openings allows for views on the sea from the more intimate spaces without compromising their privacy (see combined elevations). The soft landscape between the new intervention and its surrounding blue wall as well as the central botanical garden enhance the biophilic experience of the building. As for the underground bedrooms, the skylights provide a source of light while the windows through the cliff frame a calming view of the sea from each bedroom.

The combination of the rammed earth walls (above ground structure) and gabion technology (above ground structure) make for a return to a very simple, local, and ecological construction strategy. With all materials sourced locally, a strategic orientation for natural (passive) ventilation and sun shading, and the exploitation of renewable energy sources on site, the environmental strategy for this building ensures a passive present and future for this project.