Spatial design covers a range of parameters when dealing with creating an ideal habitable space. A designer has to ensure that the area they are designing facilitates the existence of a space that provides the user with a rejuvenating and perpetually productive experience, be it working or just simply relaxing. Holistic Wellness can perhaps be defined as the state of harmony, in which the physical, mental and spiritual states of an individual are perfectly balanced.
Architecture and Spatial Design play an important part in achieving this state through their art of space-making. The designs can subconsciously impact the temperament and the physio-psychological existence of a group or an individual per se. Therefore, inculcating holistic traits in architectural design is growing into a necessary parameter. As we are moving towards an uncertain world, the way our spaces make us feel can greatly impact our overall functionality and well-being.
Holistic design is a necessary characteristic that one needs to integrate into their design-thinking approach. It is not just a requisite for a singular spatial building program, but a pivotal aspect to all spaces that people spend the majority of their time in- a home, workplace, recreational zones, as well as places for internal and external well-being such as spas, meditation centres as well as healthcare spaces such as hospitals, retreats and rehabilitation centres. For the betterment of mental and physical health, a design’s ability to be holistic can highly impact the aura or vibe of a particular space.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has added to the need of creating comfortable and nurturing environments. The contrasting preferences of people overall have presented positives and negatives with the whole work-from-home paradigm. While some individuals prefer the environmental shift between workplace and home, others have found that their productivity has increased given that they are working in an environment of comfort. Nevertheless, the aim should be towards keeping a simple yet productive surrounding environment, irrespective of the preference or existing conditions; and therefore, holistic designs are the need of the hour for three categories, mainly: Spaces of Work, Academic Places, and Spaces of Rehabilitation or Rejuvenation
Working Spaces are the foremost areas where the majority of professionals spend their productive time. These spaces are consciously designed towards insinuating higher productivity and enriching the experience that goes in working towards a particular type of project or work deliverable. Living in a fast-paced world, 9-5 jobs have turned into an archaic routine, being replaced by flexible albeit longer hours of work. Individuals all over are striving towards working more and thereby making more money. However, if their working environment is not invigorating enough, a slump in levels of workability can result in a counterproductive tendency.
Clarion University has highlighted Seven dimensions of holistic wellness. Namely: Emotional, Intellectual, Occupational, Social, Environmental, Physical, and Spiritual. These dimensions apply to all forms of spaces, however, special emphasis needs to be given to spaces of work, to aid an individual and motivate them to come to their respective places of occupation.
Attempts are needed to be made towards the creation and development of a variety of aspects concerning holistic workplace design. Besides areas of work, the addition of hybridized transition spaces or threshold areas can serve as nodes of interaction and rejuvenation for higher production output. Intermediate zones that incite play, exercise, cognitive activities along with fresh air & ecological connections can establish a reinvigorating zone in an office environment, resulting in better motivation for working and providing the highest level of output.
Major IT organizations around the world are consciously working towards creating enthralling working areas in their main headquarters. Companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple are hiring renowned architects such as Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Heatherwick, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, etc. to design their headquarters, as they understand the need for providing a refreshing environment for their employees to enjoy working in.
Designing of Learning Spaces
Learning Space Design follows a similar tangent to designing workspaces. However, in this case, the prime objective predominantly remains to accelerate the induction and inculcation of knowledge and learning. Whether the spaces in the discussion are situated in schools or universities, the necessity for the presence of holistic spaces remains essential for students to pursue their learning individually or in a group outside normal tuition hours. The way classrooms and student spaces are designed greatly impact how a person is influenced to study and learn not only during schooling hours but in their own time as well.
Preschools are actively being created in a manner that can aid a child’s learning during their formative years. Learning spaces and spaces of play are no longer being actively compartmentalized or sub-divided, but are rather subtly transitioned and placed nearby, or fused into one uniquely distinct overall spatial typology for that matter. By associating play and knowledge induction as cohesive learning attributes, children can develop a receptiveness towards holistic learning techniques.
Higher-level institutions, on the other hand, vary concerning the pedagogical approaches that are undertaken by them. Therefore, the infrastructure developed varies from place to place, given that the approaches undertaken towards teaching are different. Integration of ecological and sustainable elements into areas of transition can aid in the experience of moving through an institution and enriching the journey that one undertakes as one travels from one point to another.
Creating Spaces for Rehabilitation/Rejuvenation
Spaces for rejuvenation are an ever-growing need in these times where cases of over-working and burnout are steadily increasing towards an all-time high. These spaces act as an escape from the modern world, a haven where an individual can relax and recuperate from the busy modern life in a metropolitan region. Therefore, Rehabilitation centres are the prime spatial typology that needs to keep holistic wellness in mind throughout their entire design process as they aim towards creating spaces that can replenish an individual’s physical, mental and spiritual health.
Biomimicry is a design strategy that is being greatly used to design spaces such as these. A connection with nature and design elements inspired from the same is what aids the holistic experiences that these areas aim to portray in their spaces, contributing towards heightening awareness for visitors. It also creates alternatives to typical healthcare design, inducing a human-centric interwoven typology that fuses the natural and the man-made, one where the individual can experience the treatment properly. Through these elements, one can feel surrounded by nature and forms inspired by it, thereby establishing a natural connection in a built environment.
Rehabilitation spaces are designed keeping in mind the nurturing attitude towards honing and developing the 5 major senses of humans. Spaces for introspection, activity, meditation and learning; can incite amplified experiences when it comes to utilizing these spatial typologies. When what a person can see, smell, hear, touch and feel is all catered to, great experiences are bound to be created, ones which make an individual feel comfortable and relaxed wherever they are.
Holistic Wellness is a feeling that is growing into the need of the hour. Architecture can redefine existing spatial paradigms and induce feelings of comfort and authenticity via its design approach. As creators and designers, design professionals all over the world need to consciously develop such a viewpoint towards their projects, and that stems from the most basic sense of understanding we can imagine: knowing what it is to be human. As long as professionals can tap the deepest meaning towards what holistic spaces truly stand for, achieving this objective shall not seem so difficult.
Hembree, A. & Sholder, E. (2013). Engaging Holistic Health through interactive design in public space. Masters of Architecture Senior Theses level. Syracuse University. https://surface.syr.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1207&context=architecture_theses
Hilal Özcan; WHR Architects, Inc. (2014). HEALING DESIGN: A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO SOCIAL INTERACTION IN PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE UNITS IN THE UNITED STATES AND TURKEY. Houston: WHR Publications. https://www.irbnet.de/daten/iconda/06059010210.pdf
Elise Shapiro (2021). Bring Your Whole Self to Work: Designing For Holistic Employee Wellness [online]. (Last updated 2021). Available at https://www.workdesign.com/2021/06/bring-your-whole-self-to-work-designing-for-holistic-employee-wellness/ [Accessed 21 November 2021].
Indian Health Center (2014). What is the definition of holistic wellness? [online]. (Last updated 19 August 2014). Available at https://patch.com/california/campbell/what-definition-holistic-wellness [Accessed 21 November 2021].
Education Design International (2014). What is the definition of holistic wellness? [online]. (Last updated 26 September 2020). Available at https://u2b.com/2019/09/26/education-design-international-learning-spaces-for-the-creative-age/ [Accessed 21 November 2021].
Design with Purpose (2018). Design for Wellness – Evoking Beauty, Nature and Welcome [online]. (Last updated 18 December 2018). Available at https://u2b.com/2019/09/26/education-design-international-learning-spaces-for-the-creative-age/ [Accessed 21 November 2021].
Koen Steemers (2021). ARCHITECTURE FOR WELL-BEING AND HEALTH [online]. (Last updated 23 July 2021). Available at https://u2b.com/2019/09/26/education-design-international-learning-spaces-for-the-creative-age/ [Accessed 21 November 2021].