Group 10

University is a stressful environment and Supported Earth aims to improve the mental health of students and staff by creating a calming wellness space on the Benzie building roof terrace. Collaborating with the Art School and gardening clubs we will look at the structure of the existing terrace to produce 1:1 innovative recycled planters for the roof terrace.

Maryam AI / Jasmine R / Cheryl Jade L / Felicity P / Sarah D / Katayha Marie G


We are a team of 5 MArch students from the Manchester School of Architecture who are passionate about making the Benzie 4th floor roof terrace a better place.

Our team consists of -

- Atelier: Praxxis
- Undergraduate degree : Manchester School of Architecture
- Part 1 : Aedas, Hong Kong

- Atelier: &rchitecture
- Undergraduate degree : University of Salford
- Part 1 : Finlason Partnership LTD, Manchester

- Atelier : CPU
- Undergraduate degree : UCLAN
- Part 1 : Design Research North, Lancashire

- Atelier : USE
- Undergraduate degree : Manchester School of Architecture
- Part 1 : Aedas, Hong Kong

- Atelier : Praxxis
- Undergraduate degree : Manchester School of Architecture
- Part 1 : Bond Bryan Architects, Sheffield

- Atelier : Praxxis
- Undergraduate degree : Manchester School of Architecture
- Part 1 : SimpsonHaugh, Manchester
Posted 7 Mar 2020 17:14

The site is in the heart of the Manchester School of Art Benzie building, it’s located in the outdoor roof terrace on the 4th floor. It is a large often underused space that has several planters on it. The roof terrace provides an atrium light well to the Fashion and Textiles students located below. The terrace is surrounded by the architecture of the Chatham building and looks out at a lovely view of Manchester.

Supported Earth's aim is to transform the space from an underused roof terrace to a vibrant social well-being area that advocates gardening to take time away from the busy schedules of everyone studying or working at the University. We aim to do this by designing planters or furniture for the Benzie roof terrace.
Posted 9 Mar 2020 21:26

For our event we are collaborating with Lynn Setterington. Lynn is an internationally recognised textile artist who works as a Senior Lecturer at the Manchester School of Art. Her works have been exhibited at the V&A Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery.

Lynn has a passion for gardening and has always wanted to improve the Benzie roof garden space with exciting planters.

Working with the textile department allows the planters to be used in the future to grow dye plants. This will allow the School of Art to dye their own fabrics with natural resources and create their own beautiful fabrics.
Posted 15 Mar 2020 11:48

One in three architecture students admit to suffering mental health issues of some degree according to a recent study (Kirkpatrick, 2018).

The regeneration of the Benzie roof terrace aims to provide students who may need a space to breathe or simply get outside of the studio a refreshing and open place to visit. We will aim to add social value which will not just benefit the architecture students but all art students and staff within the Benzie and Chatham buildings. The space will also encourage social interaction between people from different subjects, enabling cross subject support and promote potential future collaboration between them, bringing the whole school together as one.
Posted 16 Mar 2020 11:29

We are surrounded by trees, flowers and greenery and yet we don’t really take the time to think about the choices that went into selecting that exact tree for that particular location. One key thing that came up when we were initially discussing the project with our collaborator was the ability to grow plants for the use of dye, this could then be used for dye materials which could later be used within the textiles department.

We are going to look at a series of plants and what colours can be produced by them and if they have any other abilities, such as health benefits. The first in this series is the Sunflower, a beautiful yellow flower which is instantly recognisable. The sunflower is able to produce a lovely green dye colour and a blue colour can be achieved from its seeds. The sunflower will also grow well in the UK’s climate and being located in a roof garden will enable the plant to gain the most sunshine for its growth.
Posted 16 Mar 2020 22:12

Hulme Community Garden Centre uses organic and peat free products in which they grow their plants in, ensuring that they are environmentally friendly. This will be an essential part of the Supported Earth project as we aim to use recycled and environmentally friendly products to ensure the planters are sustainable.

As a non-profit Hulme Community Garden Centre provide low cost plants to the local community as well as providing a community space and run free workshops in one of the most deprived areas of Manchester.

These spaces provide a place in which the local community can take a break, helping to improve the mental health of those who use the spaces.
Posted 17 Mar 2020 23:03

The second in our “which plant” series is Turmeric. This amazing little root plant packs a powerful punch in all ways. Looking like ginger from the outside, inside the bright orange pigment is strong and very vivid. This is perfect for staining and colouring fabric, other added benefits of this little root plant is its ability to improve your metal health. Added benefits include being an anti-inflammatory.
Posted 18 Mar 2020 19:10

Grow: Art, Park & Wellbeing is a project within the Art Garden at Whitworth Park. The project aims to promote the benefits of engaging in horticultural (the art or practice of garden cultivation and management) activities to improve mental wellbeing of an individual. The project provides opportunities such as learning horticulture, building confidence and social engagement.

We will be collaborating with Grow with specific contact and talks with Sarah Price, a landscape gardener who designed the Art Garden within Whitworth Park. Francine Heyron, the cultural park keeper will also be providing us with a tour and talk.

We will gain informed knowledge on landscape gardening, planter design and links between horticulture and mental health, enabling us to have a positive social change impact on those within the Benzie and Chatham buildings.
Posted 19 Mar 2020 15:02

Supported Earth is committed to understanding well being in specific within Architecture. We attended a talk series by our university called “Provocation” it asked..Does Architecture Make You Anxious? Think about it? As we entered the lecture was nearly full everyone was eager to hear the talk. Students and staff shuffled through and then there was us the members of supported earth. There were 3 speakers a University staff member, a student and a graduate who is now an Architect in practice. Each speaker shared their experience and struggle with well being.

It was clear that everyone had the same message, that sometimes stress and the uneasiness can have an impact on your well being, that you’re not alone regardless what stage you are. Seeking help is the first step and that having a balanced lifestyle is key. Taking breaks, eating well and not forgetting to sleep!

We learned a lot after the talk and we hope that we can implement this in our project. Through our planters we could help create a space that encourages well being and taking a nice relaxing break from work becomes the norm.
Posted 19 Mar 2020 15:10

It is all too easy to overlook the simple things in life. People have taken up gardening as a hobby to help them relax and centre themselves mentally for centuries, and you can easily do the same.

There are many ways gardening can improve your mental health, and can even be used to combat serious problems like anxiety or depression. Gardening helps us appreciate the cyclical nature of life, and to appreciate every moment for what it is.

It is very easy to feel like your world is out of control, especially right now. Gardening is a deeply ordered activity that puts you entirely in control of at least a tiny patch of that world, and the satisfaction of maintaining a garden of any size can’t be underestimated.

This is especially important as exams, deadlines and other stresses loom over our heads. Taking even just a few minutes out every single day to tend the garden and practice mindfulness can really help keep our problems in perspective!

Posted 20 Mar 2020 12:47

There is no shortage of good reasons to spend a bit more time in the garden now that the weather is finally beginning to warm up, but here are a few ways that ‘pottering around out back’ in the afternoons can help heal the wounded environment.

Gardening reduces your personal carbon footprint. Each of us bears a responsibility to contribute as little as possible to global warming and climate change, and a leisure activity like gardening that actually reduces your carbon output rather than increasing it is a wonderful thing!

At the same time, gardens actually absorb carbon from the atmosphere. By some estimates, nearly ¼ of trees and an even higher percentage of smaller plants in cities are located in gardens. Collective effort is the key to beating climate change, and every square metre of garden we grow makes a small but meaningful contribution to stopping global warming!

So come out and do your part! Gardening is fun and relaxing, and our collective effort with this really will help the planet!
Posted 20 Mar 2020 14:54

Our curation of the planters must be sustainable, from recycled or up-cycled materials. Our collaborator Lynn Setterington currently has a surplus of material mesh and she will be providing us, and the undergraduate students a masterclass on how this unique material can be reused to manufacture planters from it. This is a rare opportunity to learn and develop textiles skills with collaboration with the textiles students.

Ourselves, as year five students with practice experience will be providing short tutorials to the undergraduate students. This will develop throughout the week from hand drawing techniques to graphic representation using the adobe suite to a range of 3D modelling and rendering software. In the second week we will be focused on model making which we are all proficient in.

This will be an exciting two weeks where we will all learn, reinvent and develop ourselves.
Posted 21 Mar 2020 08:21

For our event we have two weeks to reach our final goal of creating 3 beautifully made planters.

Week 1 is all about preparation. We will visit the roof terrace to understand the context the planters will be placed in. Then we will visit a succesful garden and speak to the cultural park keeper and the landscape gardener at Whitworth Park. This will be an inspiring day to give us lots of ideas.

Then we will split up into 3 groups, each designing a planter. Initial ideas will be shown by sketches with research from plants and precedents informing the designs.

Producing final drawings will help us to understand how we will build the planters. Each team will make a "How to Build" manuals so that we can have a smooth build in week 2!
Posted 21 Mar 2020 11:51

Week 2 is all about building! By the end of week 2 we will have 3 innovative and well made planters.

We will be using tools in the Chatham courtyard to build our planters out of recycled materials. Following our "How to" guides should make for a quick start.

Throughout the week we will continue to share where we are with the build progress. Then on the final day we will present our final build to our collaborator, textile Senior Lecturer Lynn Setterington.

It will be a fun filled, productive two weeks where we will learn lots about the design and building process.
Posted 21 Mar 2020 11:51

Our collaborator, Lynn, sent us some great precedents. Here's one in Kings Cross, London.

The use of fabric planters allows for easy set up. But once the soil is added it gives it the weight it needs to stay in place.

We love the mix of the urban setting and gardening with these planters and they add lots of colour to the grey paving. They also soften the harsh city landscape.

This can be applied in our project because currently the materials on the terrace are very harsh and grey. But through our project we will brighten up any grey Manchester day!
Posted 21 Mar 2020 11:56

Rooftop gardens are wonderful for many reasons, but any time you’re working with tools (or on top of a building) you need be careful.

One of the best ways to protect yourself while gardening is to wear proper PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). Sturdy shows, long trousers and a good thick pair of gloves will often be plenty. Safety goggles might be helpful as well. And finally, protect yourself from the sun. A big floppy hat or sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher is a must!

99% of the time, injury care is straightforward. Most of the injuries possible while gardening are minor, and easily taken care of.

We’ll have a safety induction before we start. This will be delivered by the workshop which is loaning us the tools and equipment we’ll use. They’ll explain about the potential hazards each piece of equipment might present, and the use of PPE.

Safety is our top priority, after all!
Posted 21 Mar 2020 17:02

Planters need to be well designed to have the greatest success. This is going to be challenging, but also exciting. The design needs to be suited to its intended users, and should accommodate their needs. Will it be the kind of rooftop garden we stroll through, or the kind of space where a few people could have a good chat?

In this case we’ll be building planters, but we’ll have to think about the scale and a few technical issues. We’ll need to decide where to place them, ensuring that we allow easy access and safety for ourselves, but also giving the plants all the sunshine, drainage and shelter from the wind that they need to thrive. We’ll also need to consider what works for the building itself. Our end goal is to enhance the underused space without damaging the roof.

Next, we’ll follow up with a few key design principles we need to follow. Building the planters is going to teach us a lot about carpentry, engineering and technical skills.

Strategic planning is the key to success!
Posted 22 Mar 2020 12:26

Now that we know what we want our rooftop garden to achieve, we can get down to the technical details. The most important might be drainage, waterproofing and wind protection.

Our planters can’t be watertight, or the plants inside can easily ‘drown’ when they fill up with water after a rain. Proper drainage is vital to healthy plants. But that means water spilling out onto the roof on a regular basis, so we have to make sure that the entire area is well drained.

One of the best ways to protect the roof itself is to lay down or apply a sturdy waterproof membrane – one that won’t tear and leak when someone accidentally scrapes it with a spade, and won’t cause a trip hazard. You’ll also need to locate the planters near a roof drain so that excess water will flow away.

The wind is simply stronger atop most roofs than it is on the ground. That means soil tends to blow away, and plants can easily be damaged on blustery days. In all cases, make sure that both the waterproofing layer and the planters themselves are firmly fastened down!
Posted 22 Mar 2020 12:28

It is important to consider two other technical design concerns. Structural loading is something we’ll only need to consider once, but maintenance will be an ongoing responsibility. Luckily, as you’ll see, our duties will be quite light!

A structural engineer’s opinion is often necessary to determine whether a particular roof can bear the weight of a garden safely. We are glad to announce that a special guest from Bell Munro consulting will be coming in to give us a talk about roof gardens. They can offer advice where the best place to locate the planters might be. After all, all that wet soil is going to be heavy!

Planters don’t require a significant amount of maintenance. They must be weeded and watered regularly, and fertilised a few times a year. The weeding will be fairly simple, as rooftop gardens get fewer wind-blown weed seeds than gardens on the ground. The good news is that, unless the planters or furniture become damaged somehow, that’s all there is to it.

Remember, gaining practical experience is very useful as a future architect!
Posted 22 Mar 2020 12:29

The third in our “which plant” series is Indigo. This beautifully delicate pink flower loves to grow in a tropical environment, however, if it is grown in a greenhouse then it will still thrive in the UK. Interestingly depending on the climate, the plant is grown in, it will dictate the way in which the plant grows, e.g. it may be an annual, biennial, or perennial. This plant was actually one of the original sources of this colour and is still used today for fabric dying and hair dye.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 09:00

Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios is an architectural practice with an international reputation for design quality, for pioneering environmental expertise and a progressive architectural approach.

FCB Studios designed the Manchester School of Art building (Benzie) in 2013 which was an extension to the existing Chatham building.

Designing highly visible vertical gallery space acts as a shop window providing a showcase for the School of Art to the University and the wider City.

"The aim of the building is to celebrate the commonalities of the various art and design disciplines and encourage students to work alongside each other and enjoy the crossover in an open, terraced hybrid environment, rather than working in the silos common to many art and design establishments" - FBC Studios
Posted 23 Mar 2020 12:25

Lynn, our collaborator, was inspired by the way that roof terraces are used in Japan. All space is utilised and the roofs of buildings become gardens.

The roof gardens are calming and relaxing spaces to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. They give much needed respite to the users. They also create places to meet friends and socialise outdoors.

Our site, the terrace of Chatham building, has the potential to create a similar atmosphere and our project will be one step closer towards this goal.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 13:55

Now more than ever it is important for universities to engage with the well-being of students throughout their education, we suggest the creation of spaces that cater to well-being to be created.

A study in 2018 regarding mental health of University students in the UK found that there is a rise in students facing psychological distress and mental illness, including high levels of anxiety, substance abuse and self-harm.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 16:45

In a study made in 2018 that asked 38,000 University students, 9 out of 10 students said they struggled with feelings of anxiety. (Guardian,2019)
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. In the UK 8.2 million cases.

This showcases now more than ever it is important to put well-being in the centre of Universities agendas. We hope that in creating a space that caters to students and staff that we can help people feel less worried and more grounded in their day to day lives. When they take a break and remember to breathe this practice of mindfulness can help reduce feelings of unease. Hopefully our space can help create a relaxing environment that can help improve well-being for all to use regularly.

Posted 23 Mar 2020 17:00

As our project is located in the Manchester School of Art, which is home to over 800 students! Our space has the potential to impact students in their own environment and the number of students will only increase as students leave and new students emerge.

As our project aims to create a space that brings in people to the roof garden, encouraging taking a break and being attentive to personal well-being. Our space can help students decide how they approach their day, whether they choose to take a break in a relaxing space. Or if they want to engage with gardening. Of course, socialising with other students is inevitable bringing their friends as well.

The space therefore becomes not only a roof garden but a catalyst towards a cultural shift that can have a real impact on the way students live and learn in a more balanced manner. We hope that our project can provide a re-invigorating space for students and staff to utilize. A space that can help inspire them to make the changes they need to feel the best they can.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 17:12

As Architecture students make up the largest cohort in the Manchester School of Art. We found some revelations that suggest that well-being of students in architecture may be jeopardised by the way they engage in their studies.

Dezeen held an online discussion with Architecture students, it became apparent that some architecture students are overworked. Some students choosing to stay up for many hours to try and meet deadlines, however as a result of this push they may be more prone to damaging their health in the long run. According to Dezeen this may be in fact an effect of a “burnout”.

“Burnout” according to the World Health Organisation is a chronic workplace stress syndrome that can be clinically diagnosed. It occurs after being exposed to chronic stress that hasn’t been properly managed.

So yes in the short run students may think that working for long hours is the right approach. But taking breaks and pacing yourself may allow for a better approach. We hope our space can be the perfect place for students to take a break and inspire change. Therefore our space is not just a space to relax but one that ensures students and staff are taking enough breaks to avoid feelings of Burnout in the long haul.

Source & more info:
Posted 23 Mar 2020 17:17

Taking a break is sometimes just as hard to do as working. One more minute, after I finish this one thing.. However, contrary to what we think taking a break can be the most productive thing we can do.

According to a study a productivity catalyst could be just that “taking regular breaks of two minutes increased productivity about twice as much (11.15 percent) this is due to Brief diversions vastly improves focus”. This can further be explained with the way we think. As taking breaks helps us avoid overthinking and allows moving to the next task at hand.

What you do in your breaks is just as important and effective breaks can help you reboot. Princeton University study suggests exercise as a break. While Mayo Clinic advocates meditation as another effective method to lower anxiety and boost personal health.

But a great break is incomplete without a great space. We hope that our break space can create the right environment for students to re-fresh and improve their productivity as well!

Source & Further info:
Posted 23 Mar 2020 17:24

Socialising has many benefits it might even be the fountain of youth you never knew you had access to. Integrating social activities into your life is key, as it has many benefits. Ranging from better physical and mental health to even lowering the risk of Dementia. Interacting with others allows you to boost feelings of well-being and decrease feelings of depression. Research has shown that creating social connections with others can improve your mood!

Therefore, we hope that the space we create by providing a new activity to gather people. As well as improving the visual aesthetic of the roof garden can contribute to more students choosing to go to the space. Students and staff will then be able to engage in social activities and thus improve their lives as well as their mood.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 17:33

Our aim for the end of this project is to design and create as a collective, a series of three individual planters, taking inspiration from precedents and input from all the students and our collaborator. Taking the time to really think about what each planter will look like within each team and how that can be achieved. The final product should be an item in which we are truly proud, which enables the roof top garden to be transformed into a pleasant and welcoming space where people want to spend their time, a place to reflect and relax throughout the day.
Posted 23 Mar 2020 21:50

A big thank you to our collaborators, guest speakers, visits and everyone who has been involved with our Events project.

We really appreciate everyones input to making a great Event!
Posted 24 Mar 2020 09:47