DESIGNWELL TO LIVE WELL
BY: JEN LEVISEN, EDITOR AT THE FORUM, MORTARR
While the green, or sustainability, movement pays attention to the products we put in, and on, our buildings and how we build them, is there anything paying attention to how those buildings impact the individuals who inhabit them? Enter wellness architecture.
Wellness architecture, according to the Global Wellness Institute, is the practice of designing built environments with green, or sustainable, systems and materials that promote the physical, emotional and cognitive health of those who live and work in them.
“To help people function at higher levels and feel refreshed we must design intentionally to achieve mindfulness in the workplace,” says Kay Sargent, Senior Principal, Director of WorkPlace, HOK.
Sargent is scheduled to join a roster of industry leaders at the inaugural DesignWell conference, Jan. 22 and 23 in San Diego, Calif., which event organizers say will raise awareness on how the built environment impacts our health and, ultimately, performance.
“We aim to inspire, celebrate, energize and help those in attendance discover how wellness architecture can benefit the design process,” says Paulo Gomes-daCosta, Event Manager. “What started decades ago as the green movement has become more complex. It’s not just using building practices that are good for the environment, but ones that are good for those who inhabit those built environments as well.”
Leigh Stringer, Workplace Strategy Expert and Researcher with EYP, an architecture and engineering firm, and a speaker at DesignWell, says there have been many ROI studies calculating the benefits of wellness architecture to the built environment. One example is “biophilia,” or the workplace providing access to natural light, views to nature, or elements that mimic nature.
“There is mounting evidence that biophilic spaces can reduce hospital stays, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity,” she says. “The study of an administrative building at the University of Oregon shows absenteeism was 19 percent higher for those with no view versus those with a view to nature.”
DesignWell is focused on how nature, materials, and design come together to benefit human health and performance within the built environment.
“The challenges of improving design for better human health and performance have created new business opportunities for architects, interior designers and other AEC professionals,” says Gomes-daCosta. “I want people to take away new ideas on how they approach design, whether they are architects or designers. Not only will they be able to differentiate themselves from others in their industries, but they’ll be working on creating safer, more well environments for individuals working in built environments.”
DesignWell runs Jan. 22 and 23 in San Diego, Calif. Other conference speakers include Eric Corey Freed, Founding Principal, organicARCHITECT; Randy W. Fiser, Hon. FASID, CEO, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID); Mikhail Davis, Director of Restorative Enterprise, Interface Americas, Inc.; and Veronica Schreibeis Smith, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, CEO and Founding Principal, Vera Iconica Architecture.
For more information, visit DesignWell online.