Healthy Spaces: The Rise of Wellness Design in 2022
The year 2022 saw a rise in conversation around health and well-being. Two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the architecture industry is more informed about healthy building practices and equipped to drive forward impactful solutions. World Architecture Day 2022 was themed around “Architecture for well-being”, paralleling the designation of 2022 as the UIA Year of Design for Health in buildings and cities. As we wind up the year, ArchDaily explores “healthy spaces” as a trend along with insights that will last well into the future.
We spend around 90% of our time indoors. In 2022, lockdown lethargy still continues to drive most people’s lifestyles. The pandemic served as a turning point in the architecture industry’s understanding of health and wellbeing. Ideas and experimentation in the following two years have allowed architects to better implement the science of wellbeing through design strategies. Becoming increasingly aware of the impact built environments have on us, there is a growing interest in understanding the universal effects of building design on bodily health.
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being”. By designing spaces with a focus on their impact on health, wellness architecture is capable of delivering buildings that host this multidimensional definition. Wellness design may be a relatively new term, but the principle borrows ideas from historical design techniques.
Blending Wellness with Architectural Design
Ancient Greek townscapes were a harmonic combination of temples, clinics, houses for sleeping cures, and theaters from cultural, spiritual and physical relief. The Romans recognized the importance of light, wind, water and its relation with buildings to promote healthy living. In the East, Chinese and Indian design traditions were centered around wellbeing practices like feng shui and vastu respectively.
The World Health Organization has called out for making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority. Designing for health and wellness can be viewed from different perspectives, such as environmental, intellectual, spiritual and physical factors. Within the larger push towards healthier architecture, a set of micro-trends help accelerate it:
The Biophilic Response to Wood: Can it Promote the Wellbeing of Building Occupants?
Sustainable architecture aims to create buildings that are healthier not only for its surrounding environment, but its inhabitants. Biophilic design was established from the understanding that the mind and the body develop within a “sensorially rich world”. It utilizes nature’s cure to alleviate stress, improve air quality, and support cognitive function. Fundamentally, the principle emphasizes the connection between indoor environments and occupants with nature. With all the ongoing design trends that have consolidated as a result, the demand has focused on organic materials that emulate outdoor environments.
What is Salutogenic Architecture?
Aaron Antonovsky, a professor, researcher, and medical sociologist identified the impact of stress as a primary cause for the deterioration of physical health. His concept ‘salutogenesis’ hypothesizes why some individuals under stress fall sick while others stay healthy. The design model offers a network of tactics to enhance the inhabitants’ sense of understanding of the space, manageability in the space, and sense of meaningfulness in the space. The factors have been proven to improve the mental and physical wellbeing in a building. While salutogenic design can be applied to any structure, it proves most advantageous to healthcare facilities where the built environment influences patient recovery and fosters a natural healing process.
Why Circadian-Effective Electric Lighting Matters
For thousands of years humans only knew daylight, fire and the darkness of night. Now we spend about 90% of our time in interior environments, not getting the proper balance of bright days and dark nights. Living beings are biologically linked to light – it is the primary stimulus for maintaining the circadian rhythm. As we live most of our lives in closed environments, we are bombarded during both day and night with intense lights, disrupting our natural circadian rhythms. By optimizing light levels and accessibility in spatial design, natural balance can be promoted to benefit productivity and sleep cycles.
What Materials Can Promote Health in Interior Architecture?
Indoor environments and material surfaces tend to host fungi, mold or molecular-type contaminants like allergens that can come from rodents and pets. Other hidden hazards include CO2 and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that originate from building materials, home furniture or cleaning supplies. All of these pollutants can be detrimental to physical and mental health, even more so if they accumulate. The most effective ways to mitigate the propagation of indoor pollutants is by choosing modern, non-toxic, sustainable building materials that are purposely created for safe construction and use in the home –hence promoting physical, mental and environmental health.
To be capable of fully enhancing human health and well-being indoors, buildings need to be designed with a changed approach. By optimizing parameters such as light, materials, ventilation, green space and coherence, architecture can support mental and physical health in a holistic way. The future will see advancements in the area of health and wellness design, putting architects at the forefront of collective well-being.
This article is part of the ArchDaily Topics: Year in Review presented by Randers Tegl.
“When creating unique architecture, visionary ideas aren’t always enough. A unique look demands character, courage, and distinctive materials. And a format to achieve the extraordinary. At Randers Tegl, we aim to add a unique touch to exceptional brickworks by bringing premium bricks to life and into the world of architecture. Making the impossible possible. We are proud to be a part of unique architecture worldwide since 1911.”
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Blending Wellness with Architectural Design