There is sufficient evidence from history and research that architecture and one’s mental well-being are closely connected, though this fact has received so little attention for the past decades. Currently, the principles of architecture and design have changed considerably and have created a more generalized awareness of the field about physical, emotional, and mental well-being. In a study done on the Royal Institute of British Architects, there was an increasing number of people who got ill because of the negative effects of the environment, including noise, air quality, and overcrowding. The study also focused on the behaviors that make up a flourishing population, the way an environment is built that instills positive behaviors in people.
The UK government additionally formed a project that was associated with the physical and mental well-being of people living in a certain environment. Included in the project were the five methods of well-being that signify positive behaviors that relate to improved well-being.
While ‘nature’ isn’t the key, ‘nurture’—the context in which architects work, may be stymieing authentic personal and even architectural expression. — Toby Israel Ph.D.
- Connection. This describes the number and the quality of social interactions people make. Designing an office or a building environment that provides ample public space, in turn, creates a chance for the people in that environment to connect, further improving their well-being and widening their community.
Generally, the key qualities are the location (close to the market or school), adaptability (spaces with no assigned function that can provide impromptu activities), feeling of home (a place that is familiar and safe) and specialness (unique features, peace, and cleanliness). In summary, spaces that bring people together and where communities and friendships were established were essential to maintaining positive mental well-being.
- Keeping Active. Exercise, active work, and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle have all proven to decrease symptoms of mental illness. Regular cycling, walking, joining yoga and meditation classes, and running were extensively related to reducing the causes of mild to severe diseases that lead to disability and death. A design conducive for an activity usually includes access to sports centers, parks, and gyms. It is also a convenient location for home and office environments that are accessible through walking and public transport, a design characteristic that provides an added benefit to physical activity either outdoors or indoors.
Never turn your back on a wave. This is a metaphor meaning be willing to stay involved even when there are big waves coming in. — Mira Brancu, Ph.D.
- Continue Learning. Dreaming big dreams tend to produce bigger and better outcomes. These dreams may be influenced by one’s environment, and those who are engaged in extra-curricular activities like music, ballet, and evening classes usually achieve a better sense of well-being. The project proved that the physical environment of a house, school, or any particular building influence intellectual progress. Parameters include cleanliness, safety, good lighting, and organization. Also, factors like seating arrangement, a semi-circle classroom design.
- Be Mindful. Paying attention to the now and being aware of your current thoughts and feelings are traits that decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. Open spaces that are filled with greens hard landscapes have also resulted in a higher likelihood of improved mindfulness and wellness.
Don’t fall into the trap of conducting a postmortem on your recent job application or round of interviews. It’s impossible to go back through the mental “tape” and critique every little thing you did. — Amy Armstrong, MS, NCC, MCC, LPC
- Offer Help And Spend For Others. These altruistic behaviors, when practiced by someone, ultimately, lead to more happiness and contentment. There is evidence that the urban community has less altruistic people compared to those from the rural community. Also, the addition of plants and flowers in a home or other type of building can also make a difference in someone’s mental well-being. A bigger scope of study involving specific neighborhoods integrating positive physical and environmental traits of space design showed a significant impact on the behavior of the residents or the people that abound the area.
Architectural designing for mental health and wellness can create many opportunities and different criteria. The technique is that these designs should be good enough to meet the health requirements and should also flexible to support one’s well-being. It is therefore important that architects create designs that encourage residents or users to practice positive behaviors not by controlling their environment but by providing suitable stimuli for positive behavioral changes to occur naturally. It is building something that would create a harmonious living environment. This can be achieved by, for example, using pleasant color, modifying floor-to-ceiling heights, or changing the style of the floor surface.
It is among the gifts of architecture that through design, material, and space, it can affect relationships among people and the environment by which they work or live in. It affects people’s lives by either decreasing or improving their sense of wellness. Windows, walls, lighting, seat and table materials, and door size and style are some of our delights that support the five methods of well-being.