Wellness Architecture is a Mega-Trend in 2022 and Beyond
The way people work, live and socialize has changed dramatically for most of us during the pandemic. Newly embraced lifestyle and workplace shifts, coupled with an increasing focus on climate change, has opened the gates wider for investors, developers and designers to further explore design possibilities for this new paradigm.
Some of the related sub-trends include:
TREND 1: Blurring Lines Between Our Internal and External Environments
Our outside has become an extension of our inside with greater emphasis on outdoor flexible live-work spaces and accessible, even interactive gardens, walkways and featured spaces that provide engagement and learning. These outdoor areas are no longer considered mere spaces to have breaks but instead, they have become integral parts our daily lives and wellbeing. Conversely, there is a great momentum toward our inside spaces connecting more with our outside environments—from designing for maximum daylight exposure through bridging skylights, terraces and courtyards to reach our everyday live, work and play spaces to integration of outdoor gardens-to-indoor plant foliage, interior colour palettes that connect us to nature, as well as the use of more natural materials. More architects and designers today are embracing biophilic design principles throughout their developments, proven to reduce stress, help regulate circadian rhythms through greater exposure to sunlight (key factors for longevity wellness), and enhance our overall physical and mental wellbeing.
TREND 2: Architecture and Design for Sleep, Rest and Calm
According to the Living Well Index, researchers from Oxford Economics and National Centre for Social Research in the UK, “a good night’s sleep is worth more than quadrupling your disposable income. Better sleep is the biggest single contributor to living better.” Poor sleep can lead to anxiety, depression, dementia, heart disease and strokes, among other health-related issues. Designing spaces for improved sleep and rest are important considerations in master planning—whether considering the directional orientation, the application of ancient practices such as feng shui or vastu shastra, the use of soft, neutral color palettes or designing contemplative spaces for calm and meditation.
TREND 3: Architecture and Design for Mental Wellness
For over a century, we’ve been building, working and living in buildings that have not been supportive (or even harmful) of our physical or mental wellbeing. Research reflects that our health and happiness are impacted by our built environments. Conscious planning, designing and developing for wellbeing is an important responsibility moving forward. This begins with defining the purpose and values of a development project upfront, identifying functional areas and initiatives in which a positive impact can be achieved and communicating these with all the project stakeholders to reach consensus and even further idea generation. Planning for interventions and strategies to 1) ensure high air and water quality, 2) reduce electronic fields especially near sleep and rest areas, 3) maximize sunlight exposure for vitamin D production, circadian rhythm balance and regulation, 4) enhance contact with nature as a means to uplift and restore health and wellbeing, 5) create engaging outdoor spaces, landscaping and places that promote movement and physical activity and greater social connectedness with family, friends and communities, 6) design medicinal and food gardens and places for faith and for learning are just some of the many examples of master planning for mental (and physical) wellbeing.
TREND 4: Soul Architecture
The spaces where we live, work and play can nourish our soul, inspire and heal us. Beyond sustainable design, the concept of ”Soul Architecture” is an evolution of minimalistic design inspired by ancient cultural concepts, such as Japanese “wabi sabi”—the aesthetic of imperfection and impermanence— connected deeply with the wisdom of nature and created to provoke a feeling of serenity, ephemeral beauty and spiritual longing. Soul architecture combines intuition of a place and space in time with a conscious, compassionate approach and the application of multi-sensory considerations, neutral, calming colours of nature, raw materials that age (such as wood, stone, sand, bamboo in their most natural state) clean lines, graceful, tranquil, soulful places to simply BE; where the embodied spirit resonates in our soul.