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AIA Study Finds Health Impacts Becoming A Design Priority for Architects & Owners

14:00 - 18 September, 2016
AIA Study Finds Health Impacts Becoming A Design Priority for Architects & Owners, Center for Sustainable Landscapes / The Design Alliance Architects. Image © Denmarsh Photography
Center for Sustainable Landscapes / The Design Alliance Architects. Image © Denmarsh Photography

A recent study conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has found that architects and building owners are beginning to place higher priority of the impacts of design decisions on human health. Nearly 75% of architects and 67% of owners responded that health considerations now play a role in how their buildings are designed, indicating that healthy environments have become an important tool in marketing to tenants and consumers.

Passions: International Photography Competition

11:30 - 11 August, 2016
Passions: International Photography Competition, PASSIONS: An International Photography Competition Official Call for Entries
PASSIONS: An International Photography Competition Official Call for Entries

Organized by Magic Always Happens, PASSIONS benefits autism research and action, and is a juried award and exhibit to be shown at Unarthodox in New York City later this year. Drawing from the wildly different interests that captivate us, our passions provide a view into not only how differently each of us can experience the world, but how uniquely we can all craft or change it for the better.

Shore to Core Design and Research Competition

13:17 - 18 July, 2016
Shore to Core Design and Research Competition

Van Alen Institute and West Palm Beach launched Shore to Core, a design and research competition to reimagine the West Palm Beach downtown and understand how cities impact wellbeing. In the design competition, two finalist teams will be selected to participate in a 3-month design process and receive $45,000 to develop their work. The research team will receive $40,000 to develop their work, $10,000 to implement their pilot study.

Reconfiguring Urban Spaces To Compensate For "Poisonous" Air

00:00 - 17 December, 2014
Reconfiguring Urban Spaces To Compensate For "Poisonous" Air, The CCTV Building, Beijing, cloaked by air pollution. Image © Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
The CCTV Building, Beijing, cloaked by air pollution. Image © Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

In an article for The Guardian, Oliver Wainwright steps "inside Beijing's apocalypse": the poisonous, polluted atmosphere that often clings to the Chinese capital. He explores ways in which those who live in this metropolis have started to redefine the spaces they frequent and the ways in which they live. Schools, he notes, are now building inflatable domes over play areas in order to "simulate a normal environment." The dangers were made clear when "this year’s Beijing marathon [...] saw many drop out when their face-mask filters turned a shade of grey after just a few kilometres." Now, in an attempt to improve the living conditions in the city, ecologists and environmental scientists are proposing new methods to filter the air en masse. Read about some of the methods here.

Design: A Long Term Preventative Medicine

00:00 - 15 December, 2013
Design: A Long Term Preventative Medicine, New York City's High Line. Image © Iwan Baan
New York City's High Line. Image © Iwan Baan

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism has produced a new report examining urban health in eight of the USA’s largest cities, which has been translated into a collection of meaningful findings for architects, designers, and urban planners. With more than half of the world’s population living in urban areas - a statistic which is projected to grow to 70% by 2050 - the report hinges around the theory that “massive urbanization can negatively affect human and environmental health in unique ways” and that, in many cases, these affects can be addressed by architects and designers by the way we create within and build upon our cities.

Toward a Fit Nation: 18 Projects that Promote Healthy Lifestyles

00:00 - 24 November, 2013
Toward a Fit Nation: 18 Projects that Promote Healthy Lifestyles, © Benjamin Benschneider
© Benjamin Benschneider

From Atlanta's Beltline to Los Angeles' Spring Street "Parklets," architecture and design is increasingly more relevant in the fight against obesity and chronic disease, conditions which have reached epidemic levels in the United States. In the article, "Toward a Fit Nation," the AIA and FitNation identify 18 projects from around the country, ranging from large complexes to temporal installations, that encourage physical activity and healthy lifestyles. The AIA National Headquarters will be curating the FitNation exhibit till January 31, 3014. Read the article here.

"How Our Cities Are Shaping Us" Infographic

00:00 - 15 June, 2013
"How Our Cities Are Shaping Us" Infographic, © Chris Yoon; http://www.behance.net/chrisyoon
© Chris Yoon; http://www.behance.net/chrisyoon

Architects and city planners are becoming more and more familiar with the health effects of our built environment.  This to-the-point infographic designed by Chris Yoon cites a few ways in which mid-20th century city planning trends have contributed to a growing obesity problem in the United States.  This data has alarmed scientists, planners and city officials into stressing the importance of redesigning the physical spaces so as to encourage physical activity and healthy choices.

More after the break.

Peter Williams for Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments (ARCHIVE)

00:00 - 26 April, 2013
Peter Williams for Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments (ARCHIVE), Breathe House; Courtesy of ARCHIVE
Breathe House; Courtesy of ARCHIVE

Peter Williams is the founder and executive director of an organization whose goal is to improve global health, using design to create healthier environments as preventative measures for tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria.  Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments, or ARCHIVE for short, has projects in countries all over the world, including Haiti, Cameroon, and Ethiopia.  ARCHIVE identifies and addresses the causes of poor health in disadvantages communities and uses strategies related to housing design improvements to create environments that promote better health.

The Psychology of Urban Planning

00:00 - 2 February, 2013
Courtesy of Entasis
Courtesy of Entasis

Walkability, density, and mixed-use have become key terms in the conversation about designing our cities to promote healthy lifestyles.  In an interview with behavioral psychologist, Dr. James Sallis of the University of California San Diego in The Globe and Mail,  Sallis discusses how his research reveals key design elements that encourage physical activity.  In the 20th century, the automobile and new ideals in urban planning radically changed the way in which cities were structured.  Residential and commercial areas were divided and highways were built to criss-cross between them.  Suburban sprawl rescued city dwellers from dense urban environments that had gained a reputation for being polluted and dangerous.  In recent decades, planners, policy makers and environmentalists have noted how these seemingly healthy expansions have had an adverse affect on our personal health and the health of our built environment. Today, the conversation is heavily structured around how welcoming density, diversity and physical activity can help ameliorate the negative affects that decades of mid-century planning have had on health.  Sallis describes how much of a psychological feat it is to change the adverse habits that have developed over the years and how design, in particular, can help encourage the change.

TED Talk: Why Architects Need to Use their Ears / Julian Treasure

19:00 - 28 September, 2012

In architecture we talk about space and form.  We talk about experience and meaning.  All of these qualities are inextricably the sensory experience of light, touch, smell and sound.  Sound expert Julian Treasure asks architects to consider designing for our ears, citing that the quality of the acoustics of a space affect us physiologically, socially, psychologically and behaviorally.

More after the break.

America's Fittest Metropolitan Areas: What it's Built Environment and Policy Tells Us

14:08 - 14 July, 2012
America's Fittest Metropolitan Areas: What it's Built Environment and Policy Tells Us, Loring Park, Minneapolis.  Image via Flickr User Waiting Line; Licensed via <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'><a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a></a>
Loring Park, Minneapolis. Image via Flickr User Waiting Line; Licensed via Creative Commons

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released a new report, “American Fitness Index" (AFI), ranking 50 of the largest US metropolitan areas by fitness and health.   ACSM gathered information that identified population, health and the built environment and found what most of us can assume: that the physical built and planned environment of our cities has a profound impact on our physical health.  "Cities near the top of the index," the executive summary reads, '" have more strengths that support healthy living and fewer challenges that hinder it... the opposite is true for cities near the bottom."  Most of the metropolitan areas identified in the top ten are cities in the north, including areas of Washington, Minnesotta, Colorado, and cities within New England.  California ranked the most metropolitan areas in the top ten.  Cities near the bottom of the list were concentrated in the south, many of which are located in Texas.  The report is the first step of the AFI to work towards its goal of promoting active lifestyles by identifying and supporting programming of sustainable, healthy community culture.

More details from the report and what tells us about our built environment.