“Wellness-centered design is about creating spaces that not only accommodate people but actively contribute to their physical and mental well-being.” – Bjarke Ingels
The built environment is an integral part of our daily lives, with humans spending an estimated 90% of their time indoors, whether at home, work, or leisure spaces. The design and architecture of these indoor spaces play a pivotal role in shaping our overall well-being. In recent years, both people and design professionals have undergone a significant reassessment of the role of interior spaces in promoting well-being. This shift has led to a growing awareness of the profound impact design and architecture can have on our physical and mental health.
Before delving into the ways design and architecture can foster wellness, it is essential to understand the extent to which we inhabit indoor spaces. A report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals that Americans spend approximately 90% of their lives indoors, emphasizing the critical role of interior environments in our lives. This statistic highlights the significance of creating spaces that enhance our well-being, as the quality of these indoor environments can profoundly impact our health.
The Shifting Role of Interior Spaces
In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in how we view and design interior spaces. Design professionals have increasingly recognized the importance of incorporating wellness principles into architecture and design. This shift has been accelerated by the rise of wellness-centered lifestyles and the need to combat the negative effects of stress, sedentary living, and the ever-increasing demands of urban life.
Site studies around the world have provided compelling evidence of the positive impact of well-designed spaces on well-being. For instance, the WELL Building Standard, a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being, has identified several key principles:
- Materials: The choice of materials used in construction and interior design can influence air quality and comfort. Low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) materials and finishes contribute to better indoor air quality and, subsequently, improved well-being.
- Lighting: Proper lighting is crucial for human health and productivity. Natural light has been shown to enhance mood, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality. By incorporating ample daylight and well-designed artificial lighting, architects can positively affect occupants’ well-being.
- Air Flow: Adequate ventilation and air circulation are vital for maintaining a healthy indoor environment. Poor air quality can lead to various health issues, including allergies and respiratory problems. Well-designed spaces prioritize air quality and ensure a constant flow of fresh air.
- Size of Space: The size and layout of spaces significantly impact our sense of well-being. Open, flexible layouts and spacious interiors can create a sense of freedom and reduce feelings of confinement and stress.
- Colors: Color psychology plays a significant role in affecting our emotions and behavior. Calming colors like blues and greens can promote relaxation, while vibrant colors can energize and stimulate creativity. Thoughtful color choices in design can enhance well-being.
The growing importance of wellness design has gained considerable traction in the design and architecture industry. Reports from leading industry organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the International WELL Building Institute indicate a growing demand for wellness-centered design solutions. Architects, designers, and developers are increasingly adopting principles that prioritize human health and happiness, whether in residential spaces, commercial buildings, or healthcare facilities.
Notably, wellness-centered design principles are now commonly integrated into projects, from residential spaces to commercial buildings and healthcare facilities.
Recent publications, such as “The Well-Tempered City” by Jonathan F.P. Rose as well as classics such “The Architecture of Happiness” by Alain de Botton, have shed light on the critical intersection between design, architecture, and well-being. These books emphasize the role of the built environment in shaping our emotional experiences and overall satisfaction with life.
Prominent architects like Thomas Heatherwick, known for his innovative designs, have embraced wellness-centered and regenerative design principles in their projects. Heatherwick’s work often features spaces that harmonize with nature, promoting a sense of well-being and connection to the environment.
Biophilic design, which seeks to incorporate natural elements into the built environment, has gained prominence as a central component of wellness-centered design. Recent studies have highlighted the psychological and physiological benefits of biophilic design, including reduced stress, improved mood, and increased cognitive performance. Incorporating elements like green walls, natural materials, and access to outdoor spaces can profoundly enhance well-being within indoor environments.
“Wellness is the intersection of art and science in design. It’s about understanding how our built environment impacts our health and using that knowledge to create better spaces.” – Norman Foster
As our lives become increasingly centered around indoor spaces, the significance of wellness-focused design and architecture cannot be overstated. Site studies and statistics demonstrate that well-designed environments can contribute significantly to increased well-being by addressing various aspects of the human experience, including materials, lighting, air flow, size of space, and color. With wellness design becoming a prominent trend in the industry, we can look forward to a future where our built environments actively support our physical and mental health, ultimately leading to happier and healthier lives.