Integrating Wellness Architecture for Better living
More than ever before we now know that the built environments that we exist in can have a big impact on our health. So, how do we design spaces that support better living? The answer is wellness architecture, a concept that brings together the knowledge that we have about how to live well with the learning that has been done about the way that buildings and internal spaces affect our physical and mental health. When it comes to positive change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, integrating wellness architecture for a better living could be one of the big shifts.
Defining wellness architecture
In many ways, wellness architecture is very subjectively defined because it depends on how you view wellness. There is no singular definition for this new term (yet) but the concept is driven by the desire to create spaces that protect, and even improve, human health. Several organisations (mostly in the US) have begun creating codes and guides to what this type of design may entail, for example:
- The WELL Building standard, which focuses on key features of the built environment, including light, nourishment, water, air, fitness, comfort and mind.
- The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness architecture as a design that focuses on socially conscious systems and materials to promote a harmonious balance between cognitive, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Examples of the ways in which wellness architecture can be integrated for better living
Every space will be different but these are some of the simplest ways to make wellness architecture more of a priority in every space:
- Large windows that let in plenty of natural light.
- Using materials and muted colours that are soothing to the touch and to the eye.
- Ensuring that fabrics and materials used are non-toxic so as to limit exposure to toxins.
- Ease of use to reduce stress e.g. placing a staircase centrally and making it simple and easy to access.
- Inspiring views – if a location has them, architecture that optimises these for human enjoyment will be key.
- Personal control over individual spaces, whether that is thermostats or ceiling fans, task lighting to cater to individual needs or security.
- Opportunities to exercise, from staircases instead of lifts to integrated outside spaces.
- Beauty in design – many functional aspects of architecture can be elevated to an aesthetic that is inspiring and satisfying to look at, as well as fulfilling a specific design purpose.
Green architecture vs wellness architecture
In reality, there is no ‘vs’ here as the two are very similar and likely to be integrated together for very positive effects. Green architecture is essentially choosing materials and designs that are eco-friendly and sustainable. It’s worth noting that there can sometimes be a conflict, for example, if energy-saving design requires a building to be entirely shut in, minimising the opportunities for occupants to access fresh air.
Wellness architecture is changing the way that we approach the built environment and shifting the priorities for design in the hope that it will pave the way to better living.