With most of the world living in cities and growing villages, people tend to spend the majority of their time indoors. When not at home, we are working, learning, or even engaging in fun activities in enclosed, built settings. All in all, 90% of our time is occupied inside. It is therefore essential to ensure a comfortable, productive, and healthy indoor environmental quality by following well-regulated parameters and design practices that consider temperature, lighting, noise pollution, proper ventilation, and the quality of the air we breathe. The latter is especially important, since contrary to what we might think, air pollution is much higher indoors than outdoor.
Healthy Design: The Latest Architecture and News
Many of us spend more time at our offices than ever before and sometimes see our colleagues more than our own families. Workplaces can be considered to be our second homes, which is why the way we deliberately design them in the present day has garnered so much attention. The overarching design of workplaces aims to create a perfect balance between heads-down focus work and layers of collaboration to improve the productivity and general well being of employees. As workplace trends come and go, there’s a new progression on everyone’s minds- and it predicts what a post-COVID-19 office might look like both in the immediate and long term future. Although there’s no crystal ball answer, many architecture firms, research groups, and real estate companies have been tapped to ideate and implement forward-thinking design solutions and health safety policies that will be critical in redefining how we utilize our workplaces for the years to come.
Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture (CLTH) has imagined a new design approach for classrooms when schools reopen as the lockdown eases in the UK. The architecture practice based in London has released an innovative concept “to help mitigate restricted circulation routes within schools and maintain the necessary social distancing among pupils and staff”.
MASS Design Group has released a guideline for restaurants in response to the coronavirus pandemic, to help these business reopen safely, viably, and vibrantly. Based on world health recommendations, the drafted protocols aim to keep both staff and customers safe, as well as facilitate operations.
Although any architectural project must ensure the safety and well-being of its occupants, this goal is especially pertinent for healthcare spaces, whose primary occupants are those prone to getting sick or worsening their initial condition. For this reason, its design must not only support medical procedures in their optimal conditions, but also ensure that the environment is kept sterile and clean at all times.
How do materials that fight the growth of pathogenic bacteria work? Is it possible to improve the hygiene and healthiness of an environment without neglecting the aesthetics of the space? We address this question by reviewing the case of Krion® solid surfaces, widely used in the healthcare sector but also in residential, commercial and office projects.
Many of us have already lived, or are currently living in, some sort of shared community housing. Whether it be from a college experience of living in a dormitory or a retirement community filled with other senior citizens, the loosely defined, yet increasingly popular concept of co-living has taken on many forms in society. The co-living market giants, including WeLive, Common, and Ollie, center themselves around participating in a shared economy, offering a financially sensible housing solution, and fostering meaningful social connections. As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and adapt to the enforcement of social distancing and stay-at-home mandates, co-living tenants have felt compelled to navigate the loopholes in the designs of their communities in order to discover new ways of living with others, while also mitigating health risks. In fact, co-living communities may be better positioned to handle a pandemic while balancing a sense of normalcy more so than traditional residential real estate offerings.
In the midst of a pandemic that has already affected 184 countries and infected more than a million people around the world, we seek to cover all topics that relate the coronavirus within architecture and space, and ways to make social distancing less painful.
Over the past few decades, interior spaces have become increasingly open and versatile. From the thick walls and multiple subdivisions of Palladian villas, for example, to today's free-standing and multi-functional plans, architecture attempts to combat obsolescence by providing consistently efficient environments for everyday life, considering both present and future use. And while Palladio's old villas can still accommodate a wide variety of functions and lifestyles, re-adapting their use without changing an inch of their original design, today, flexibility seems to be the recipe for extending the useful life of buildings as far as possible.
How, then, can we design spaces neutral and flexible enough to adapt to the evolving human being, while still accomplishing the needs that each person requires today? An ancient element could help redefine the way we conceive and inhabit space: curtains.
Nothing is more rational than using the wind, a natural, free, renewable and healthy resource, to improve the thermal comfort of our projects. The awareness of the finiteness of the resources and the demand for the reduction in the energy consumption has removed air-conditioning systems as the protagonist of any project. Architects and engineers are turning to this more passive system to improve thermal comfort. It is evident that there are extreme climates in which there is no escape, or else the use of artificial systems, but in a large part of the terrestrial surface it is possible to provide a pleasant flow of air through the environments by means of passive systems, especially if the actions are considered during the project stage.
This is a highly complex theme, but we have approached some of the concepts exemplifying them with built projects. A series of ventilation systems can help in the projects: natural cross ventilation, natural induced ventilation, chimney effect and evaporative cooling, which combined with the correct use of constructive elements allows improvement in thermal comfort and decrease in energy consumption.
Danish company VELUX began with a belief in building healthier homes. Created over 75 years ago by Villum Kann-Rasmussen, the manufacturer has now expanded around the world, with millions of people getting fresh air and daylight through their products. With recent events on the COVID-19 pandemic, Lone Feifer and Peter Foldbjerg of VELUX explore how architects and designers can find better ways to work at home and create healthy living spaces.
As cities keep growing and daily realities quickly shift, people turn to new and ever-changing ways to maintain their well-being. While the promotion of active lifestyles has been the focus of many Planners and Architects (Pedestrian/ bike-friendly cities, parks or fitness/ sports centers) aiming to support Human comfort and health, recent times have shown that these publicly coveted facilities might not always be accessible.
The solution is as clear as day. In fact, if you’re not engaging in it nowadays, you’re probably witnessing those around you working out from home or even offices. Workplaces have been also adapting their interior spaces, having designated areas and equipment available for those eager to take a break from work.
Humans can survive for 30 days without eating, 3 days without drinking, yet only 3 minutes without breathing. Of course our need for air is also constant, we rely on it at all times indoors and outdoors although can often be less clean than we would hope. Unpleasant odors make us aware of bad air, but many irritants and unhealthy gases are not easily detectable by smell while still affecting our health. Smells are the most obvious signal, as they are consciously perceived by the brain and nervous system, allowing us to make judgements about our environment.
Learn more about where poor indoor air quality comes from, why it's important to address within the built environment, and how to design for good indoor air quality and comfort.
Introduced by Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf pedagogy draws on the principles of anthroposophical philosophy. One of the theory's foundational characteristics is its holistic approach to the human being: feelings, imagination, spirit, and intellect are considered unique to every individual, and thoughts, feelings, and actions are understood to always be linked.
Thus, the focus of the philosophy is to cultivate individuals who are capable of relating both to themselves and to society (inter and intrapersonal intelligence) - fundamental skills for overcoming the challenges of the 21st century. This kind of learning takes place in schools that follow Steiner's method, introducing families to the school environment and bringing them into the community. Below, we review the operations and implications of this pedagogy.
If you don't like a specific musical style, the theater bores you, or you're not attracted to works of art, you can almost always avoid them. Architecture, however, is different. A poorly thought-out project will affect the lives of many people consistently and for a long time. With interiors, this effect is even more amplified. Humanity is spending more and more time indoors, which directly impacts our well-being and health. In periods of compulsory retirement, as in the current pandemic of Covid-19, we gain a sense of how important interior spaces are for our well-being and even for the prevention of diseases. Designing an indoor environment is a huge responsibility for a professional. An interior designer must plan, research, coordinate, and manage these projects to obtain an adequately healthy and aesthetically pleasing environment for the people who use the space. But what, in fact, is interior design?
The Coronavirus pandemic has been taking over the news for a few months now, and has imposed unimaginable changes on the daily lives of the world’s entire population. Although the situation is worrying, and rather devastating in some cases, being aware of the virus's behavior and understanding ways to avoid it seems to be the best way to deal with the crisis. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that spreads through droplets in the air. What makes it especially dangerous is its high rate of contagion, as the virus has the ability to survive outside the human body, in the air, and on surfaces such as metal, glass and plastics, if they were not properly disinfected. But how does the virus behave on each of these materials?
It is truly odd how we always find ourselves in a bad mood at work and our productivity keeps decreasing as the week passes by. To be fair, we can’t keep blaming our colleagues, clients, or Monday for our rough day; sometimes it’s the chair we are sitting on, the fluorescent lighting above our computer, or the constant “chugging” sound of the printer near the desk.
Other than the fact that people spend about 70-80% of their time indoors, almost 9 hours of their day are being spent at work; and studies have indicated that the environmental quality of an office has short and long term effects on the comfort, health, and productivity of the people occupying it. While research on the comfort conditions of workplaces is still relatively minimal, we have put together a list of factors that have proved to be highly influential on the comfort of individuals in workplaces.
Does it make sense to design green parks in desert cities such as Casablanca, Dubai, or Lima? Ostensibly it does, because they contribute freshness and greenness to the urban environment. In exchange, however, they disrupt native local ecosystems, incur high maintenance bills, and begin a constant struggle to ensure water availability.
While many architects consider windows for brightening interior spaces, Norman Foster is intrigued by natural light from above. The British star architect has long held Louis Kahn and Alvar Aalto in high esteem for how they handled daylight - especially with regard to the roof. In particular large public buildings benefit from this strategy creating enjoyable spaces. Therefore, Foster regards daylight from above as indispensable when he develops megastructures for airports on the ground or tall skyscrapers for work. But daylight from above is much more than an aesthetic dimension, remarks Foster: "Quite apart from the humanistic and poetic qualities of natural light there are also energy implications."