Architecture: How to design buildings for health & wellbeing

Architecture: How to design buildings for health & wellbeing

When it comes to diet, they say ‘you are what you eat’. But for overall health and wellbeing ‘you are where you live and work’. We look at how homes and workplaces can be designed to promote health and wellbeing…

If you’ve ever visited a cathedral, admired the views from a hilltop, walked along the seashore, spent the night in a police cell, or lived with a hoarder, you’ll know just how much your health and wellbeing can be affected by your surroundings.

Because we spend most of our time either at home or at work, it’s important that health and wellbeing are taken into consideration when designing both residential and commercial buildings. Here are 7 simple ways to incorporate health and wellbeing features into your latest design:

  • 1. Maximise daylighting

    It’s well known that daylight can boost the mood and help to ward off depression. In fact, Seasonal Affective Syndrome (SAD) is now recognised as a medical condition where people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms in the darker winter months. Windows, skylights and patio doors can really brighten up homes, whilst curtain walling can flood offices and commercial buildings with light.

    Maximum daylight is provided at Solihull Retirement Villagewith Senior’s thermally efficient double glazed SPW600 aluminium windows, robust SPW501 Doors and thermally enhanced SF52 curtain walling

    SPW600 windows installed in student rooms at Arts University of Bournemouth

    Senior’s SF52 curtain walling provides a light and uplifting workplace

  • 2. Create a comfortable environment

    Cold and drafty spaces, or overheated rooms make for uncomfortable living. When specifying windows, doors and curtain walling, make sure that you choose a product with excellent thermal efficiency to keep heat in when the weather is cold and to prevent overheating in the summer months. Senior’s PURe® windows and doors are some of the most energy efficient products on the market thanks to an innovative patented thermal break. An added bonus is that thermally efficient fenestration helps to keep energy bills down – one less thing for residents to worry about.

    PURe® SLIDE doors are ultra energy efficient with U values as low as 1.1 W/m2K when calculated as a CEN standard.

  • 3. Include social spaces

    Humans are social animals; we need regular social contact to thrive. The effects of Lockdown on mental health have really highlighted the importance of this aspect of life. When designing apartment blocks, residential care homes, student accommodation and office blocks, remember to include social spaces where people can get together and talk.

    The new Fusion Student Accommodation in Sheffield is the perfect example. As well as 864 spacious accommodation units the complex boasts a host of high-end communal amenities including: a state-of-the-art sports centre with gym; yoga area and a half basketball court; indoor cinema; games and karaoke rooms; gaming den; communal lounge; indoor and outdoor study spaces; library; private dining area; rooftop terraces with outdoor kitchens; a garden cinema and attractive landscaped courtyard area with BBQs.

  • 4. Add outdoor spaces

    Having some outside space is another important factor in protecting mental health. A connection with nature encourages mindfulness, whilst fresh air and sunshine boost feeling of wellbeing in addition to increasing Vitamin D levels. Even in high-rise apartment or office blocks, outdoor space can be added with balconies or rooftop terraces. For example outdoor space was also a key consideration in the design of Williamson Heights in Wembley, which features two buildings linked by a podium garden, with a balcony for each of the 198 apartments accessed via Senior’s SPW600 aluminium doors. Residents can also enjoy panoramic views of the iconic stadium arch and central London from the landscaped roof gardens or relax on a selection of communal terraces.

    Balconies and communal terraces provide outdoor spaces at Williamson Heights

  • 5. Provide natural ventilation

    Natural ventilation has moved up the priority list in building design, largely because of the Covid pandemic, but also because of concerns about climate change and the huge amount of energy usage by air conditioning systems. Windows and doors provide an easy solution. Even in spaces with glazed facades, automatic opening vents can be inserted into the curtain wall. This was the answer at the Sports and Wellness Hub at the University of Warwick, where PURe® Aluminium vents were inserted into the SF52 aluminium curtain walling.

    PURe® Aluminium Vents in SF52 Aluminium Curtain Walling at the new Sports and Wellness Hub at the University of Warwick.

  • 6. Make exercise easy

    Love it or hate it, there’s always a moment of inertia to overcome when it’s time for exercise. We all know that exercise is good for us, but sometimes the thought of driving to the gym, putting on wet weather gear to go for a walk, or having to keep your bike in the hallway can make the couch seem a much more attractive option.

    At times like these, a nudge in the right direction can tip the balance in favour of exercise. Many apartment blocks now have an on-site gym, yoga and exercise spaces, easy access to local walks, cycle routes and bike storage, all designed to make it easier for residents to exercise. For example, Mustard Wharf a new Build to Rent development in Leeds has an on-site, high-tech gym as well as secure storage for bikes and easy access to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal tow path cycle route, whilst Fusion Student Accommodation in Sheffield also has an on-site gym as well as a yoga area and half basketball court.

  • 7. Use secure products for peace of mind

    Whether at work or at home, feeling safe and secure is important for peace of mind. So, make sure that all windows and doors are certified as ‘Secured By Design’. In office buildings and at apartment block entrances extra security can be added with a key code pad or electronic locking. And for high rise buildings, parallel push windows or louvre guards can be installed to prevent anyone falling from an open window.

    At the Arts University of Bournemouth, Senior’s barrier load tested Louvre Guard System was fitted to all bedroom and kitchen SPW600 windows for extra safety and security.

    Senior’s barrier load tested Louvre Guard System.

  • Get in touch

    At Senior we have a team of highly experienced Architectural Advisors who will be able to help you select the most appropriate fenestration products for health and wellbeing to incorporate into the design of your next project. We’re always happy to help, so please get in touch today on 01709 772600.

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