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  • Writer's pictureAna Castañeda

2022 Saw a Rise in Wellness Design

In 2022, conversations around health and well-being increased. Two years following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the architectural industry has a greater understanding of healthy building practices and is better positioned to advance effective solutions. The topic of World Architecture Day 2022 was "Architecture for well-being," mirroring the UIA's selection of 2022 as the Year of Design for Health in Buildings and Cities. As we are aware of these tendencies, we wanted to explore them further.

About 90 percent of our time is spent inside. In 2022, lockdown apathy continued to dominate most people's lives. The pandemic was a turning point in the architectural profession's notion of health and well-being. In the subsequent two years, architects have been better able to incorporate the science of well-being via design methods due to new ideas and experiments. As we become more aware of the influence constructed environments have on us, there is a rising need to comprehend the universal implications of building design on physical health.

The World Health Organization describes health as "the whole of physical, mental, and social health." Wellness architecture may create buildings that fit this broad definition by designing spaces emphasizing their impact on health. Despite being relatively recent, wellness design is based on earlier design concepts.

Ancient Greek cityscapes were a symphony of temples, hospitals, places for sleeping cures, and theaters that provided cultural, spiritual, and bodily respite. The Romans understood the significance of light, wind, and water concerning architecture in promoting healthy life. Chinese and Indian design traditions in the East were oriented on wellness techniques such as feng shui and Vastu, respectively.

The World Health Organization has urged making mental health and well-being a worldwide priority for everyone. Environmental, intellectual, spiritual, and bodily variables, among others, may be considered when designing for health and well-being. Several microtrends contribute to the acceleration of the broader movement toward healthy architecture:

Biophilic Design

The sustainable design aspires to provide better structures for the environment and the residents. The biophilic design was founded on the belief that the mind and body grow in a "sensorially rich world." It employs nature's remedy to ease stress, enhance air quality, and promote cognitive function. Fundamentally, this idea highlights the relationship between interior spaces and their people and nature. With the consolidation of all current design trends, the market has shifted toward organic materials that mimic outside situations.

Salutogenic Design

Professor, researcher, and medical sociologist Aaron Antonovsky determined that stress is a significant factor in the decline in physical health. His "salutogenesis" theory postulates why some people become ill while under stress while others don't.

The design model provides strategies to improve the occupants' perceptions of the space's meaning, manageability, and comprehension. The elements have been shown to enhance the building's physical and emotional health. While the salutogenic design may be applied to any building, healthcare facilities benefit most since the built environment positively impacts patient recovery and promotes a natural healing process.

Lighting Design

For thousands of years, people only knew nighttime darkness, fire, and dawn. We spend 90% of our time inside, missing out on the ideal ratio of sunny days to nights. Light, essential to sustaining the circadian rhythm, has a biological connection to all living things. We are constantly exposed to bright light since we spend most of our time inside, which throws off our circadian cycles. Natural balance may be encouraged to boost productivity and sleep cycles by balancing light levels and accessibility in the architecture of space.

Material Design

Indoor settings and material surfaces often harbor mold, fungus, or molecular pollutants like pet and rodent allergies. CO2 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) derived from construction supplies, furnishings, or cleaning products are additional covert risks. These contaminants may harm physical and mental health, increasing risk as they build up. The best strategy to reduce the spread of indoor pollutants is to use contemporary, non-toxic, sustainable building materials explicitly made for usage and construction in homes, improving environmental, mental, and physical health.

Buildings must be developed using different strategies to improve human health and well-being. Architecture can holistically promote mental and physical wellness by maximizing factors like light, materials, ventilation, green space, and coherence. Advances in health and wellness design will place architects at the forefront of societal well-being in the future.

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