How does one affect the wellbeing of another? Moreover, how does one understand the mental and emotional capacity of a human being dealing with certain issues? We may agree or not agree with this notion but some face those issues head-on, some deny it, and the worst-case scenario: some even succumb to it. In the world of design, one cannot deny that art is a very subjective matter. It opens endless possibilities and new paradigms of understanding the world. It follows through the innovation and at the same time leaving a mark of what has been acknowledged. Can art, let alone architecture, help with this alarming health concern?
Being stressed at work and now facing this pandemic, is taking a toll on our mental health and calls to design for our wellbeing. The surroundings impact our overall health and productivity, to be in a healthy environment is a must and necessary to keep our sanity intact.
If one takes it too literally buildings are lifeless, they cannot say a word, they cannot run, they cannot draw, they cannot eat, they cannot breathe, and it cannot be human. The skyline of buildings are non-living things, they are just tall, solid, hard blocks that take so much space. Some people will look into this kind of perspective and they stick by it, and it makes them not see what’s in there. As lifeless as it seems, logically, buildings are not human but they can be humane. The purpose of Architecture is to make the living, livable.
A great example of this topic is the movie “Columbus”. It is a story about the son of a renowned architect who visited the city of Columbus who happens to meet a young architecture enthusiast and they embarked on the buildings of the city. The son was relentless and is not that convinced of the power of architecture, unlike the young architecture enthusiast that would love to learn anything related to architecture. Along the way, they weren’t able to notice it but their surroundings affect them and their friendship. It helps them grow and release their underlying emotions. The lights emanating from the buildings set the mood for deep conversations. The modernist architecture kept them at bay and protected their sanity without them even noticing it. This is how architecture affects everyone.
Architecture must evolve with more meanings and we must see its potential of giving hope. To be as humane as possible. Projects like Alejandro Aravena’s low-cost housing, making it very human and family-centred, is something we can look up to for its practicality and preserving the basic unit of the society. To exercise more the principle, one must see the ability of architecture to change lives from the big picture to the tiny details.
Buildings should be designed to make us happier and healthier, evolved, and follow through with a certain standard to keep our mental health healthy. We are not all privileged in having an employer-friendly atmosphere, some are working from an unstable home and working or studying without high-speed internet. This situation affects how people work 8-12 hours a day facing the computer with minimal breaks and it is very unhealthy.
We should invest in architecture for mental health and wellbeing, encourage movement, relaxation, controlled temperature, noise levels, adding breakout areas, rooms for different varieties of workers’ personality types. Allow the staff to input over their environment whether or not it is an open plan or tapping more on refurbishments and low-cost solutions.
Aside from the design, architects must also take into account the improvement of the building facilities and systems such as the water, air, nourishment, light, electricity, materials, sound, and overall comfort. The indoor spaces must establish happiness and productivity that allows the employers to put pressure on the work of the architects.
The same challenge goes to those who work from home, innovations like using materials like wood, concrete, and composites to achieve a level of thermal efficiency. Although the concern is very demanding these types of construction must adapt to flexibility and range. It shows that better standards must follow for everyone’s health. It allows people to stay in the community and give life to a healthy society.
To be able to design for the mind is to consider the overall physicality as the mind creates and controls mobility and decisions. It plays a vital role in the community to work as well as taking care of one’s well being.