Ni Tang
Sensory Refreshment 
TCM Reconsidered


With the rapid development and expansion of our cities and the economic demand placed on residents, city dwellers are under more personal stress than ever. Long commutes, overtime work, irregular rest, unhealthy diets, urban pollution and noise all adversely impact wellbeing. These unhealthy conditions overwhelm the mind and make residents mentally and physically sub-healthy. Sub-health is a state between complete health and sickness, which is especially common in large cities. The sub-health rate in Shanghai and Beijing has reached more than 70%.

Chinese medicine can regulate the human body from a holistic perspective and help solve sub-health problems. Chinese medicine refreshes the human body by sensory experience. The environment and atmosphere of the traditional Chinese dispensary are similar to those of ordinary hospitals: serious, calm and rational.  These characteristics don’t encourage a good experience, and even bring some further psychological pressure to adjust to the sub-health problem. This thesis proposes a Chinese medicine center to facilitate people’s understanding of TCM using multiple senses, through immersive experiences.

The host site for this TCM rest center is the Shanghai Botanical Garden, which is distinctly separate from the external urban landscape in order to create a relaxing setting to readjust your perspective and learn about TCM.

At the urban scale, Shanghai's subway system serves as a network connecting the entire city. People in Shanghai spend 40 minutes commuting to work every day. The broad ambition of this thesis is to incorporate the healing and relaxing elements of traditional Chinese medicine, such as aroma, into part of the subway system. City dwellers can temporarily escape from the high-paced urban city and be refreshed and healed, through both active engagement with a Traditional Chinese Medicine center and passively as they go through the work day.



A series of problems in the city, such as urban noise(sound), air pollution(smell), overwork (rest), and unhealthy diet will make people anxious, uncomfortable. These unhealthy conditions overwhelm the mind and make residents mentally and physically sub-healthy. 


“Suboptimal health status 1 can be defined as a state characterized by some disturbances in psychological behaviors or physical characteristics, or in some indices of medical examination, with no typical pathologic features.It is also interpreted as different terms like "intermediate state", "grey state" or "a general malaise." 2

Memories related to the event are scattered in the sensory center of the brain, but are grouped by the hippocampus. If one of the senses is stimulated to evoke memories, it will also trigger other memories with other senses. At every moment of biological life, sensory information is absorbed by sensory receptors and processed by the nervous system. The sensory information is stored in the sensory memory for just enough time to be transferred to the short-term memory. The memory in the storage affects one's emotions. In the city, people's memories are filled with busy and high-pressure life. By changing people's sensory experience, the goal is to refresh memory and change mood. 


1. Yan Yu-Xiang.  "Development and evaluation of a questionnaire for measuring suboptimal health status in urban Chinese".
Journal of Epidemiology. 333–341

2. Cai, Lang (1 August 2011). Beijing United - Sub-health". United Family Healthcare. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.



▲Fast-paced cities operate in a rationally and orderly manner like machines. As the screw of city operation, people are filled with work, commuting, fast food delivery which is part of the efficient operation in the city. People's body and mind are in a state of high pressure and tension which need to adjust.

After a day of work, you feel tired and your eyes are sore. You bought a cup of wolfberry chrysanthemum tea from a subway vending machine, with the words "Sensory Refreshment" printed on the package. It is a Chinese medicine experience center in the Shanghai Botanical Garden.

When you are in the subway at the peaking hour which make you feel a little anxious. The lights in the subway gradually turn blue as more people get into the subway.

When you get out of the Shilong Road subway station and walk to the Botanical Garden.The height of buildings becomes lower while the density of "green" is getting higher.

As you walk into the botanical garden, the boundary skyline of the building is blocked by trees. You feel relaxed in the natural environment. You walked into the greenhouse with curiosity and also in a more relaxed state.


TCM Exhibition: Mind Refreshment
Chinese medicine has a conditioning effect on human health. With the development of modern science and technology, people use more scientific methods to classify Chinese medicine, forming a more scientific and reliable modern Chinese medicine system which refresh the cognition of TCM.

Teahouse: Taste Refreshment
What we intake constitutes our body. The diet therapy is an important part of TCM.

Therapy Area: Body Refreshment
When people are in a sub-healthy state, their body muscles are tense.Massage, moxibustion, and foot baths can help people relax.



▲ The deduction of the space.





Tea House: Taste Refreshment

▲ This space is mainly composed of circular bars on both sides and a panoramic elevator in the center. The bar is divided into two areas. One is a relatively static and private area. People can taste the traditional herbal snacks and drink teas at the plant-scented bar. The other side is a relatively flowing open area, where people can stand on both sides of the bar, communicate with each other and enjoy tea. The ring light on the top is the indoor plant cultivation light, and the indoor cultivation herbs are hung on under the light.


Tea House: Taste Refreshment

The Teahouse provides herbal teas and desserts during the day, and medicinal wine and tea at night. At night, plants of drink ingredients are projected on top to show the materials and the growth process of the plants.


People can consult at the front desk and make an appointment for body theraphy. There are foot bath therapy in the open space, and Tuina and moxibustion in the private space. The spaces are not completely enclosed, and the aroma of water vapor and moxibustion plants fills this space. The opening at the top of each space bring daylight into the interior theraphy area.


Therapy Area: Body Refreshment

This space is filled with the aroma of plants and warm water vapor, providing a space for people to relax physically.