Recent statistics suggest that if someone lives until they are 80, around 72 of those years will be spent inside buildings. This makes sense if we bear in mind that, when not at home, humans are working, learning or engaging in fun activities mostly in enclosed, built settings. Contemplating current events, however, this number is expected to grow. In an increasingly chaotic and uncertain world, marked by the ongoing effects of climate change and the global pandemic, the desire to stay indoors in a protected, controlled and peaceful environment is stronger than ever. Architects face an important challenge: to create comfortable, productive and healthy interiors with well-regulated parameters, considering factors like indoor air quality, daylighting and biophilic features from the initial stages of design. Of course, this involves choosing materials sensitively and accordingly, whether it be by avoiding certain health-harming components or by integrating non-toxic products that soothe and promote wellness.
well-being: The Latest Architecture and News
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.” If one or more of these aspects are compromised, quality of life and happiness can be severely affected. In recent years, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, this has proved to be especially challenging. Commuting restrictions forced many to stay indoors and businesses to pause in-person operations, aiming to prevent the virus from spreading but inevitably sacrificing psychological, emotional, and even physical health in the process. As a result, people’s lifestyles shifted to find new ways to address their well-being, including adapting their living spaces accordingly. Home gyms, for example, became a popular initiative.
Many associate bathrooms with small, simple and practical rooms with no defining design characteristics. Historically, they have been conceived as merely functional environments strictly programmed for hygiene, privacy and ease of maintenance –often with no room for creativity. But as lifestyle changes have placed health and wellness as a top priority, contemporary bathroom design has been reimagined accordingly, shifting towards spacious personal retreats intended for comfort, relaxation and recuperation; an escape from a chaotic outside world. Because we tend to spend most of our time inside the home, many recent discussions naturally revolve around residential bathrooms, overlooking another setting where we also spend a significant number of hours in (around one third of our lives to be exact): the workplace.
Whether it is for a break, relaxation or even free wifi, coffee shops tend to host a series of situations that involve more than just enjoying a cup of coffee. A quiet and pleasant place, which in addition to everything else offers a good hot drink, is a great attraction for those looking for a coffee shop to spend a few hours.
In this sense, a landscape project that integrates greenery into these environments can significantly increase the comfort of customers, by easing temperatures and offering a barrier against atmospheric, noise and visual pollution. In addition, after the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, open spaces, with natural ventilation and gardens became priorities for many projects, including coffee shops.
According to the latest survey carried out by the World Health Organization - WHO, in 2019 there were more than 700,000 suicides worldwide. In Brazil, records approach 14,000 cases per year, that is, on average 38 people commit suicide per day. In this context, “Yellow September” was created in Brazil, the largest anti-stigma campaign in the world that encourages everyone to actively act in the awareness and prevention of suicide, a topic that is still seen as taboo.
Cooking shows have never been more popular around the world than they are now. Whether from recipes, reality shows, or documentaries, writer Michael Pollan points out that it is not uncommon to spend more time watching than preparing our own food. This is a very curious phenomenon, as we can only imagine the tastes and smells on the other side of the screen, which the presenters often like to remind us. At the same time, when we watch something about the Middle Ages, polluted rivers, or nuclear disasters, we are relieved that there is no technology to transmit smells across the screen. In fact, when dealing with odors (more specifically the bad ones), we know how unpleasant it is to be in a space that doesn't smell good. When dealing with buildings, what are the main sources of bad smells and how can this affect our health and well-being?
Architects are mobilizing their efforts, to help schools around the world reconsider their design in order to guarantee sustainability, emotional wellness, and physical health. CetraRuddy, Cooper Robertson, and WXY are amongst those proposing an increase in outdoor programming and a rearrangement of classrooms, for post-pandemic school design.
The architectural scene has been witnessing lately a growing focus on indoor/outdoor functions. Discover 3 different interventions from 3 different practices, tackling one common issue, and focusing on outdoor space as a major programming element.
As hospitals around the world are reaching their capacity, the architecture and design community is developing new alternatives to fight COVID-19. In order to build 60 Emergency Quarantine Facilities (EQF), WTA was inspired by their pavilion developed last year, part of the Anthology Festival. A viable quarantine structure, the Boysen Pavilion “embodied speed, scalability and simplicity in its structure”.
Although The Architecture of Happiness did not gain momentum after its publication in the mid-2000s, the ideology of architecture and well-being has remained a topic of intrigue until today. To further explore this ideology, the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), with the curation of Francesco Garutti, have put together an exhibition that explores how the “happiness industry” has controlled every aspect of contemporary life after the 2008 financial crash.
Our Happy Life, Architecture and Well-being in the Age of Emotional Capitalism is a non-archival show that exhibits work from architects, artists, and photographers. Metropolis’ Samuel Medina spoke to Garutti to discuss the notion behind the exhibition, social media, and architecture’s new spaces of meaning.
Designed by Henning Larsen and MSR Design, the New Public Service Building for the city of Minneapolis aims to consolidate several departments, currently found across multiple different sites, into one unified building. The scheme promotes the health and well-being of its 1,300 employees through maximizing daylight and green space throughout, integrating a significantly sustainable remit within the 385,000 square foot, 11 story proposal. Located diagonally across from the existing city hall, Henning Larsen brings a “knowledge-based Scandinavian design approach” to the high-performance office space, hoping to set a “new architectural agenda in North America."