The healing promise of nature plays a prominent role throughout the history of medicine. Hospitals in the 19th century were often located in rural retreats to isolate contagion and to heal through clean air and environmental therapies. Conditions with no direct cure could be treated through the physiological effects of light, air, water, and temperature.
In this era, the trajectories of progress in medical technology, environmental systems, and architecture were braided together. These threads have diverged greatly today. In contrast to the open and porous historical hospital, today’s hospitals are closed systems designed for efficiency, homogeneous environments detached from the outdoors. Today, we are seeing a rise in anxieties around the economic and spatial inaccessibility of this model, as well as increasing suspicion of medical authority.
This project proposes re-entangling nature and health through the design of a clinic where waste heat generated by life-sustaining equipment can be harnessed to grow new life in greenhouses for occupational therapy. Healing programs draw on the historical type of the pavilion hospital, interwoven with cultivation spaces to create a heterotopia of environments. The building expends the most energy in the height of flu season, causing a greenhouse bloom in midwinter, and making visible the idea that pandemic and quarantine have altered our environmental footprint. Neither an open nor closed system, the clinic becomes a site of metabolic exchange between humans and plants, between architecture and environment, between our second nature and the larger world.