More than ever before, architects, academics, scientists, product designers and tech experts are discovering the impact that the built environment can have on our health and happiness. With 90% of our time spent indoors, it’s become crucial for designers to work with the right materials and make design choices that can help make our lives better.
There’s a real vested time and effort going into experiments that analyse how humans respond to certain environments and the show by The Built Environment Trust includes intriguing results from some of these projects, such as a colour theory test that examines whether a pink prison cell can reduce an inmate’s aggressive behaviour and also whether a 20-minute nap in a sleep pod (which is installed in the exhibition itself) can drastically improve memory, learning and creative thinking.
Making Wellbeing examines the crucial public, private, commercial and civic spaces that we all rely on, featuring pioneering projects from Grand Designs‘ architect Sarah Wigglesworth, the famous Foster + Partners and educational institutions including Bartlett UCL and Kings College, plus many more.
Here are some of the highlights featured in the exhibition that consider the psychological and cultural wellbeing needs of people facing complex regional issues all over the world:
Creativity-boosting sleep pods
Podtime, UK: Starring in the exhibition itself is the Podtime sleep pod – here’s your chance to take a 20-minute nap, which is designed to really boost your creative thinking and memory. Not convinced? Try it for yourself.
A unique green work space
The Enterprise Centre, UK: With amazing eco credentials and an intriguing mix of natural materials, this community business hub is a truly amazing space to work in, featuring thatched cladding, an abundance of natural light, the best air quality and picture-perfect views of nearby gardens and parkland. According to its website, the Enterprise Centre is the greenest building in the UK.
An eco makeover for one of London’s biggest housing estates
Grahame Park, UK: This north-London housing estate has been totally regenerated, with the aim of creating 3,000 sustainably designed homes with a strong community infrastructure and mature parkland at its heart. ‘The plan for the area includes social rent, affordable and private sale homes, major infrastructure upgrades, improved transport links and a range of community facilities,’ according to Barnet Council.
A garden village for prisoners
Storstrøm Prison, Denmark: Far from the average institutional prison, this village-style environment was designed by C.F. Møller to provide the Danish prison‘s 250 inmates with a mini community in which they could manage the extensive kitchen gardens and feel less like they are ‘on the inside’. As a result of designs such as these, Denmark has the lowest reoffending rate in Europe.
Disease-preventing home design
The Magoda Project, Tanzania: Designed in collaboration with the local community, these eight prototype homes have been innovatively designed to integrate traditional African building methods, Asian architectural features and to maximise wellbeing, including letting in as much daylight as possible and optimising airflow, while also reducing mosquito presence by 86%, transforming the health of its inhabitants.
A health-inducing hue
Cool Down Pink, Switzerland: Colour designer Daniela Späth has developed a shade of pink that can actually reduce blood pressure, according to research. It has been tested in a prison, which has so far had a mixed response.
Vittra Telefonplan, Sweden: Moving away from the traditional classroom model, architect Rosan Bosch has created a unique and imaginative spatial design, including watering holes, campfires and a giant iceberg, to form learning spaces that will have a positive influence on children’s learning.
Lamp posts giving health advice
CityVerve, UK: You may have heard of the Internet of Things by now, but how does it feature in everyday life? The city of Manchester is set to become an urban model for the network, where street furniture and lamp posts can monitor air quality and provide pedestrians with healthier travel routes. The collected data will also aid city planners and architects to make future decisions with the aim of consciously improving the health and wellbeing of those in urban climates.
Making Wellbeing: from birth to death runs until January 26 2018 at The Building Centre, Store Street, London. WC1E 7BT. Entry is free. Visit the website here for more information.