Designing for Wellness: Incorporating Health-Conscious Features in Architectural Design

Building owners and developers are increasingly including wellness-focus design in their projects, whether that means designing more appealing stairwells than elevators or creating outdoor community spaces to benefit tenants’ wellbeing.

Wellness encompasses various elements, from physical fitness to mental clarity. Let’s explore how architects are using wellness-minded features in their designs to promote the holistic well-being of both their clients and building occupants.

Building for Movement

As people move into and through buildings, each view affects how they perceive architecture – creating a complex montage that influences how occupants interpret architecture. That is why movement should always be considered when designing structures.

Wellness designers can employ strategies that accommodate movement of various kinds, including flexible floorplans and spaces dedicated to standing or moving throughout the day, in addition to access to outdoor community areas. Such elements can help promote stress reduction, improved mental health and an enhanced sense of connection with nature – providing physical and emotional benefits such as stress reduction.

Materials that promote tactile engagement, such as natural stone and wood, and lighting designed to match our bodies’ 24-hour cycle for restful sleep can all contribute to creating healthier buildings. An example of this type of architecture can be seen at work with NBBJ’s Sphere Building as the perfect example of wellness architecture at work – learn more about this project’s research here.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating involves being aware of what and how much you are eating, savoring each bite, and keeping tabs on its effects on how it makes you feel. Unlike restrictive calorie-counting diet practices, mindful eating aims to enjoy and appreciate food for its unique sensory experience.

Mindful eating requires paying attention to both your hunger and why you’re eating in general, such as how full each bite makes you feel after each one is consumed and why. Doing this can help prevent overeating or habitual snacking while making more conscious choices that benefit both yourself and your body.

Studies indicate that designs that incorporate open spaces, nature features and wildlife amenities into their designs can lead to higher levels of mindfulness. These elements could include seating arrangements, art pieces, plantings or landscaping projects and increasing the ratio of green to hard landscapes in terms of relative greenspace percentages. 34

Outdoor Community Spaces

Exercise can have many health benefits; however, exercising in natural environments provides even greater health advantages than doing it indoors. Building designers should therefore include outdoor community spaces that can be utilized for fitness activities as well as socialization and relaxation purposes.

Life Plan Communities with outdoor amenities such as pool decks, rooftop fitness areas or lush landscaping to encourage residents to get outside and move around are an ideal way to encourage movement between neighbors. Furthermore, such spaces should ideally be located close to common space for maximum interaction between neighbors.

Wellness-inspired design elements have become more prevalent across offices, life plan communities and hospitality venues. If you want to see how wellness-centric features could enhance your next project, consider using an AI platform such as Architect to make the process faster and more accurate – then use that data for creating feasibility studies and environmental analyses.

Wellness Amenities

Facilities designed to promote wellness enable tenants to maintain an equilibrium between physical and emotional needs, thereby creating an oasis of health within their living environment. Therefore, property owners and developers are increasingly prioritizing amenities designed to encourage this ideal.

Water features can encourage activity by stimulating the release of endorphins – natural hormones that reduce pain and stress. Strategically placing staircases within buildings also encourages movement by serving as attractive focal points that spark movement within designs.

Real estate developments that incorporate on-site fitness facilities and healthy food options contribute to tenant health and wellness, while the WELL Building Standard, a framework for measuring features of spaces that impact occupant health and well-being, can make an impressive statement to potential tenants. By meeting tenant wellness needs such as social accessibility, purpose and belongingness and creating comfortable yet functional living environments designers can design projects that benefit people as well as planet Earth.