What is Well-Being? 

Well-being goes beyond the absence of ill health and is defined as a combination of contended and prosperous life. It is the ability to cope with everyday stresses in life, experience an entire range of emotions and develop one’s potential. Well-being gives the individual a sense of purpose and some control over his life. The global wellness institute has given seven dimensions to wellness- intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, economic and social. When an individual strives to develop a lifestyle encompassing these seven dimensions of wellness, he experiences healthier relationships and higher productivity, enabling him to contribute to society.

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University of Richmond Well-Being Centre_©VMDO

Wellness Architecture- An Emerging Trend

We spend most of our lives surrounded by a built environment. Thus, buildings have a profound impact on our well-being. The architecture that is one step ahead of environmentalism is called wellness architecture- one that looks beyond designing green buildings and focuses on elevating human consciousness. It nourishes the soul where occupiers have feelings of joy and passion. 

Vera Iconica Architects have drawn a comparison between conventional and wellness architecture. The traditional buildings are more degenerative and consume huge resources. Green buildings and net zero architecture are one step forward that consider the mindful usage of energy and resources. The environmental standards are well addressed within these realms of buildings, but these are only sometimes good enough for holistic well-being. The wellness architecture takes care of the soul and elevates our consciousness keeping us grounded in this fast pacing world.

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Comparison Between Traditional and Wellness Architecture_© Vera Iconica

Wellness Design is Empowering

The cities should be designed to encourage people to take a walk instead of transportation. It should facilitate a connection with the culture of the context. More importantly, the design should empower individuals or communities at large. Well-being cannot be ensured without giving any sense of control to the stakeholders. A case in point is Leong Leong and Killefer Flammang Architects’ LGBT Center in Los Angeles. The building emerged as a solution to unaffordable housing for the LGBTQIA+ community with a history of experiencing abuse, violence and rejection from family. The building features courtyards and public plazas, a hub of cultural, social and institutional activities. With an intergenerational framework, this development empowers the community to build its network in a safer environment.

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Los Angeles LGBT Center – Anita May Rosenstein Campus _© Iwan Baan

There is a lot of conversation going around inclusion, body shaming and diet culture, encouraging designers to embrace research in such topics to inform their process and design spaces that are more accepting.

Wellness Design Reduces Absenteeism in Offices

We spend almost a third of our week at our workplaces. Therefore, it becomes essential to design workplaces that positively impact staff performance, leading to high retention, lower stress and reduced absenteeism. Biophilia, i.e. love for nature and living environment, has been proven to increase productivity by manifolds. 

A study was conducted by CBRE Netherlands on 124 CBRE employees at its Amsterdam office to understand the effect of biophilic design in the working environment. It revealed that employees exposed to “healthy spots” perceived their work performance 10% better. They were a lot more energized, happier and felt healthier. The application of smart lighting that synced with the circadian rhythm helped in maintaining better concentration and reduced headaches. Replacing office chairs with treadmills, stationary bikes, and standing conference tables introduced a sense of mobility in an otherwise stagnated work environment.

Google, a pioneer of employee wellness, has used biophilic elements like natural materials, natural light and water in its office spaces to mimic nature. As per surveys conducted, Google employees are reported to have an 11% higher work satisfaction from their environment.

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Indeed’s Biophilic Office in Tokyo by Specht Architects_© Specht Architects
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Egg-shaped meeting rooms in Google’s Zurich office_© Camenzind Evolution
Informal Meeting Space At Google Office, Dublin_© Peter Wurmli

Wellness is Becoming a Priority in Residential Design 

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed a majority of the population to make physical, social and emotional wellness their priority. Hence the integration of gyms, maximisation of natural light penetration and natural colour palette gained momentum in residential interiors in the past few years. Humans have an innate tendency to be attracted to nature. Owing to our hectic schedules, most of our time is spent in a built environment depriving us of much-needed bask in nature. In response to this lost contact with the natural environment, blurring the boundary between indoors and outdoors in residences is also seen as an emerging trend.

E Poolhouse by Habif Architects_© Vangelis Paterakis
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Residential Design Stepping Park House_© VTN Architects

Wellness Design Standards

For a very long time, the LEED standard has been steering the industry to assess the impact of building on its surrounding ecosystem. It was only in 2014 that the WELL standard was rolled out with measurable strategies to ensure the holistic wellness of the occupiers of the building. The framework was adopted to design environments that stimulate happy and healthy experiences. Starting with seven strategies, it was revised in 2018 to 10 strategies- air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and the community. These concepts have been primarily applied in workplace design, have led to enhanced collaboration and creativity, strengthened communities and instilled a sense of belonging. The post-occupancy analyses of these case studies have encouraged the designers to treat wellness not as an ‘add-on’ but as a necessity, i.e. to keep the human at the centre of the design.


CBRE, 2016. The Snowball Effect of Healthy Offices, s.l.: s.n.

Foyr, 2022. WELL Building Standard: Impact of WELL Principles on Interior Design. [Online]
Available at: https://foyr.com/learn/well-building-standard-principles-and-concepts/
[Accessed 1 12 2022].

Frew, S., n.d. 8 Ways Architects Are Championing Health and Wellness Through Design. [Online]
Available at: https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/collections/architecture-of-well-being/
[Accessed 1 12 2022].

Global Wellness Institute, 2017. Wellness architecture & design initiative resources. [Online]
Available at: https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/initiatives/wellness-architecture-design-initiative/wellness-architecture-resources/
[Accessed 1 12 2022].

Gray, A., 2017. How New Wellness Standards Are Reshaping Architecture. [Online]
Available at: https://metropolismag.com/viewpoints/architecture-wellness-standards/
[Accessed 1 12 2022].

Joson, J., 2022. Queer Spaces: Why Are They Important in Architecture and the Public Realm?. ArchDaily, 20 11.

McAuliffe, S., 2022. Is wellness architecture the future of the industry?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.cantifix.co.uk/blog/is-wellness-architecture-the-future/
[Accessed 1 12 2022].

Ruggeri, K. G.-G. E. M. Á. e. a., 2020. Well-being is more than happiness and life satisfaction: a multidimensional analysis of 21 countries. Health Qual Life Outcomes, 19 June.

Tilley, J., 2019. Workplace Wellness. [Online]
Available at: https://architecturemagazine.co.uk/2019/11/19/workplace-wellness/
[Accessed 1 12 2022].

Urban Land Institute, 2018. The Business Case for Healthy Buildings: Insights from Early Adopters, Washington DC: s.n.

Wellbeing People, n.d. What is wellbeing?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.wellbeingpeople.com/what-is-wellbeing/
[Accessed 1 12 2022].

Global Wellness Summit. (2018). GWS 2018: Wellness Architecture: Placemaking for Wellness, [online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P35tUbX1gs8. [Accessed: 30 11 2022].


Shreya is an enthusiastic interior designer. Bringing a positive change in the society through meticulous research and design is her ultimate goal. She is always on the lookout for broadening her design perspective through experiencing and reading with a keen interest in sustainable design methods.