DESIGN AS A WAY OF TAKING CARE
Alexandra Krivolapova, Architect & Interior Designer
“Whether people are healthy or not, is determined by their circumstances and environment. To a large extent, factors such as where we live, the state of our environment, genetics, our income and education level, and our relationships with friends and family all have considerable impacts on health …”
World Health Organization: The determinants of health
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT THAT WE SPEND AROUND 90 PERCENT OF OUR TIME INDOORS?
It is proved by many studies that the built environment affects our health and well-being, and can have long-term effects on the quality of our life. Given the impact of the indoor environment on humans, Architects, like no one else, research more today looking for the ways on how to enhance human well-being improving living and working spaces.
Although the wave of attention to health and well-being in architecture is relatively new, it has always been a central topic in the design process of every architect, engineer or designer. Like an automotive designer refers to ergonomics studies to create a comfortable and safe vehicle for future users, architects take building codes into consideration developed by many countries, which have always implicitly been focused on public health and safety.
SO, IF WELL-BEING ISSUE IS NOT NEW IN THE DESIGN FIELD WHAT CAN WE AS ARCHITECTS BRING TO THIS TOPIC?
What the Pininfarina Architecture team currently seeks to do is to implement the design strategies aimed at providing a physical environment that optimizes cognitive and emotional health or, in other words, researching how to improve the indoor quality focusing on the well-being of future users. As much as the modern society pays more attention to the lifestyle making the ‘prevention’ of ill-health as important as the ‘cure’, Pininfarina design focuses on taking care of an end-user through creating the best indoor qualities.
Since high indoor quality may be considered a key element supporting mental well-being, which, in turn, affects physiological health, the team research could be divided in two main directions: how to improve the physical qualities of space and how to recreate moments that enhance one’s mental comfort.
Referring to the physical space qualities, thanks to the technologies developed in the past decades, we may better manage the factors which previously were beyond our control. Today we may guarantee clean air to breathe, pure water to drink, the right illumination aiming to minimize disruption to the body’s circadian system, good thermal and acoustic conditions for one’s comfort. The implementation of such systems is what Pininfarina presently proposes in any project.
In regards to the emotional component of well-being, the Pininfarina team dedicates a big part of the design process to defining a journey where every point is thought out to enjoy in a particular way. The team considers a space as a combination of different moments that a future user may enjoy: whether secluded areas for mindful moments or multifunctional open spaces to encourage socialization, one of the key elements of well-being. Pininfarina experiments with the architectural volumes, playing with physical space, reinforcing its perception with lights and particular material choice. The architectonics is what defines every point of a journey as a different emotional moment. And Nature often becomes a spiritual component to which the team places a lot of importance transforming outdoor spaces or especially designed indoor green areas in a key element of a project reconciling humans with nature.
In order to achieve the above mentioned built environmental qualities Pininfarina Architecture Team chose the WELL Building Standard (WELL) as a tool to help designers to introduce well-being solutions in building design, recognized by the global RE market. IWBI’s WELL Building Standard is a performance-based system for measuring and certifying features of buildings and communities (including healthcare facilities and assisted living centers) that impact human health and well-being, through air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, mind, materials and community. WELL merges best practices in design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research – harnessing buildings as a vehicle to support human health and well-being.
In a world where poorly designed buildings are negatively affecting and undermining lives, we believe in the social responsibility of conceiving and designing environments that are able to enrich health, well-being and human interaction.