Touch Therapy Centre in Woodstock, Cape Town

Semesters BAS 5&6 at UCT, 2003 – This is the mini-thesis produced at the end of my three-year under-grad degree at UCT. The building programme promoted healing through massage styles, chiropractic and other techniques such as dance, that encourage contact between therapist and client or client-and-client (contact movement) to overcome physical and emotional malaise. The site was urban and surrounded by medium-scale industry such as small clothing factories as well as residential, and would thus cater for the factory workers who frequently have lower-back problems, as well as the public at large. The site was quite compact, with the admin and dance studios at the front, and the therapy rooms at the back. Two distinct courtyards (one hard and formal, the other soft and experiential) articulated the surrounding built functions. Texture and human scale – at the level of the unclothed body – formed the basis of the design, as well as a sense of progression through the site, so as to ‘leave the world behind’. Albeit with an unusual programme, the architecture was deliberately familiar and almost domestic in the articulation of openings, roof’s and walls, so as not to overwhelm its modest neighbours and clients, who could otherwise feel alienated by the building, already foreign in it’s ‘speculative’ programming.

About Maria GC Aragão

Architect, part-time lecturer, external examiner. I am interested in spaces of collective memory, the visual arts and architecture’s potential to enable change. I practice at the intersection between meaning, aesthetics and commerce. As an external examiner I look to architecture as an act of translation

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