Making Wellbeing  

Wellbeing elements

What makes wellbeing?

These elements of wellbeing emerge from the projects included in this exhibition.

Biophilia: Introduced by E.O. Wilson in 1964, ‘biophilia’ is the tendency for humans to connect with nature and other life forms.  It is an adaptive phenomenon that allows human beings respite and psychological restoration. Biophilic design is increasingly being introduced to create a connection with nature, research indicating that it increases wellbeing, creativity, concentration, motivation and productivity.

Equality: As Jane Jacobs argues healthy cities depend on a diverse and complex mix of people, buildings and activities, each requiring support. Buildings and cities constructed with wellbeing in mind contribute to the self-development, and self-actualisation of every individual and society as a whole.

Resilience: The 2012 report by The Young Foundation revealed a correlation between wellbeing and resilience, “how we feel about our lives today can help us shore up the resource to weather the storm tomorrow.” Architecture and design can assist in creating spaces that help foster a capacity for individual and social resilience.

Acoustics: Noise in a school or workspace effects concentration, learning and even hearing. The World Health Organisation notes that, “it can disturb sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, reduce performance and provoke annoyance responses and changes in social behaviour.”

Light: In the 2015 BRE Trust report Lighting and Health, researchers assessed the impact of lighting on buildings beyond issues of safety. While artificial lighting can be designed well the report notes that, “Daylight provision in general has been linked to health benefits in a number of studies. Providing daylight in buildings is often a convenient way to achieve the benefits of daytime light in regulating circadian rhythms, resulting in improved health and mood.”

Air Quality: The 2014 report by The World Green Business Council, Health Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices noted that, “The health and productivity benefits of good indoor air quality (IAQ) are well established. This can be indicated by low concentrations of CO2 and pollutants, and high ventilation rates.” And while each building and organisation offers unique circumstances, “a comprehensive body of research can be drawn on to suggest that productivity improvements of 8-11% are not uncommon as a result of better air quality.”

Autonomy: Whether it is schools, workplaces or third age communities buildings designed to enable a sense of autonomy foster an individual’s sense of control and empowerment.

Connection: Social interaction is essential to wellbeing. aArchitecture, design and planning that creates spaces for this to happen is crucial for healthy environments. Walkable neighbourhoods, street furniture and parks all offer possibilities for unexpected but welcome encounters. The Young Foundation study The Wellbeing and Resilience Paradox reported that being able to “regularly stop and talk with people in my neighbourhood” was a factor in predicting an individual’s resilience.

Colour: Colour’s impact on psychology and wellbeing is still inconclusive and often anecdotal. However, according to the NHS guidelines “Design for Patient Safety”, the design principles that improve patient experience include; noise reduction, light, view of nature and colour. Orange, an appetite stimulating colour, is now sometimes used in the dining rooms of mental health wards treating anorexia patients. Although red, also stimulating, is avoided in cardiac units as it is thought to increase blood pressure.

But what else makes wellbeing?

Tell us what makes your wellbeing using #MakingWellbeing