Wellness in Design
Wellness is a popular term. We’re all becoming increasingly aware of the factors that play a part in our health and wellbeing and how our lifestyle choices and the environments we put ourselves in affect how we feel physically and emotionally.
Research has shown that, on average we spend 90% of our lives indoors, and the designs of buildings we inhabit play a significant role in our health. As interior architects and designers, it is our priority to reinforce our clients’ values throughout every project, which ultimately creates an environment that fosters wellbeing.
Wellness is a sensory experience directly influenced by our interactions with the environment and spatial surroundings. At GHD Design, we regard wellness as a sensory journey. We consider it a top priority to understand how the built environments we create impact on our wellbeing in different ways. Our conceptual process begins by delving into the intricate factors influencing our end users – their aspirations, needs and key objectives, to help define the ideal design solution for their spatial experience.
Accumulated qualities of space and materiality form impressions that range from emotional, associative, physical, subconscious, or neurological and translate into various manifested experiences. These experiences range from comfort, contentment, and prosperity, to safety, familiarity, and homeliness. While sustainable design practices and embracing cultural diversity inherently contribute to the subsequent experience, there are universally proven principles that help optimise targeted results in the built environment.
Building design must move beyond optimising single parameters such as temperature and humidity to genuinely elevate wellness. It requires a shift toward holistic methodologies that support and actively enhance health-promoting qualities. Our approach, summarised in a 6-step process, weaves wellness design into the narrative of each of our concepts:
- SOCIAL – INCLUSIVITY & CONNECTIONS
Inclusive design puts people at the heart of the design process and celebrates their diversity. We prioritise the integration of facilities such as gender-neutral amenities, multi-faith/contemplative rooms, nursing/carer facilities, quiet zones, social spaces and accessibility features. This helps people use the spaces safely, with dignity, comfort and confidence.
- ENVIRONMENTAL – HEALTH & MATERIALITY
Most of our lives are spent between office and home environments. As architects and designers, we not only need to consider air quality, natural lighting options and the reduction of ambient noise in the workplace but also foster a vibrant and wholesome environment. This is achieved through sustainable material selections that emit minimal to no emissions, alongside encouraging users to contribute to eco-conscious practices such as carpooling, recycling and resource sharing.
- PHYSICAL – NATURE & EXERCISE
We embrace biophilic design as a method for satisfying our deep and fundamental need to connect with nature in the spaces we inhabit. By amplifying these connections in our built environments – such as incorporating natural elements, nature-resembling colours and patterns, outdoor vistas and indoor foliage – we enhance creativity, wellbeing and productivity.
- EMOTIONAL – EMPATHY & SENSE OF BELONGING
Architecture and the built environment serve as the backdrop to our daily lives, driving our commitment to nurturing spaces that resonate with our client’s values, aspirations and the communities they serve.
Buildings used to be thought of as ‘statements of architecture’, however, that idea is evolving to focus on creating spaces that bring people together, fostering an environment of connection and belonging.
Recognising everyone’s individuality, we embrace neurodiversity as a foundational principle. We create spaces that cater to diverse needs, employing inclusive wayfinding strategies that cater to a spectrum of requirements – whilst creating intuitive and sensory-considered environments that support mood, focus and energy levels.
- SPIRITUAL – CULTURE AND HISTORY
Embracing the Māori term ‘hauora’, which translates to wellbeing, health, vigor and positive spirits, we adopt a holistic perspective. This perspective acknowledges wellness as an amalgamation of the five aspects listed above. The balance of all five elements results in hauora – a human-centric spatial experience that nurtures every aspect of wellbeing.
In essence, wellness architecture is rooted in placing people at the heart of the brief. Our designs embody a socially conscious ethos, fostering a harmonious balance between physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and environmental wellbeing. This orchestration serves as the anchor for strong, thriving, diverse and interconnected communities.