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Tuesday 19 June 2018
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05 Jul 2017
Wellness Architecture Initiative hosts inaugural roundtable

Wellness continues to infiltrate industries and disciplines, and now is gaining traction in the architecture, engineering, and construction fields.

With spa and wellness clients searching for authenticity in their experiences, it stands to reason that they are going to start looking deeper than the service menu or room décor. Millennials, especially, are seeking businesses that demonstrate a commitment to myriad social issues, including the environment, sustainable business practices, and the creation of healthy work environments.

Last week, the Global Wellness Institute’s Wellness Architecture Initiative held its first global roundtable discussion at the headquarters of architecture, furniture and technology company Steelcase in New York City, which was attended by several dozen architects and designers from far-flung locales.

Initiative chair Veronica Schreibeis Smith, CEO and founding principal of US-based Vera Iconica Design, created an agenda that looked at the shifts in demand for wellness design, what meaningful results we’re seeing in enhancing health and wellbeing through design, and how the industry can move the conversation forward.

The roundtable discussion was made up of 15 participants, all experts in some aspect of architecture, engineering or design, and was moderated by Smith.

Many architects and engineers are thinking about ways to design and create buildings that make wellness more accessible to the mainstream, and there is already a quantity of research and information available to share.

Panel participants reported that clients today are increasingly interested in incorporating biophilic design principles and green walls, and there is a growing awareness of indoor air quality, awareness of light and its effect on people, and the need to avoid electromagnetic radiation. One designer commented, “We forget how much influence we have with every client and community contact where there is engagement.”

Businesses are starting to think holistically, across functions and industry, in both the public and private sector. From mayors of cities to parents of special-needs children, the number of inquiries into wellness design is increasing, the panel agreed.

From a financial standpoint, businesses are starting to see that environments created with wellness in mind are a way to differentiate themselves – as well as a way to increase ROI by keeping tenants longer.

But there was consensus that there is still some way to go to make the economics work, and a need to translate awareness of the opportunity into a widespread commitment. Government and regulatory bodies need to become involved, the panel agreed – the fact that wellness makes us feel good isn’t compelling enough to create regulations.

However, progress is being made; in the US, Fannie Mae, one of the biggest government-lending housing agencies, just launched its Healthy Housing Rewards initiative, which provides a financial incentive for healthy design features in newly constructed affordable rental properties. The first phase provides a pricing break for borrowers who incorporate design features that improve air quality, encourage physical activity, and incorporate common space, community gardens and playgrounds into their projects.

Panel participants explored how to elevate the conversations about emotional and spiritual aspects of wellness in design, which for now is mostly the realm of academic research. The key seems to be measurement; with organisations like Steelcase and Delos starting to measure social interactions and outcomes in wellness-designed spaces, there will be more support for the concept of wellness design as more data becomes available. Wearable technology can measure people’s reactions to wellness design by measuring heart rate or skin response, and seeing positive outcomes in places like hospitals and prisons with intentional design will also help the cause.

The roundtable also included individual presentations from Sally Augustin, PhD and principal of Design With Science, a firm that conducts studies and uses research to guide design principles; Paula Baker LaPorte, FAIA, a founder of EcoNest Homes, a designer and builder of natural and non-toxic structures; and James Brewer, workspace consultant at Steelcase, who showed a comparison of LEED, Fitwel, Well Building, and the Living Building Challenge – four of the current leaders in wellness architecture guidelines.

The afternoon was spent in several workshops, with all of the attendees gathering into groups to discuss topics such as defining wellness architecture, measuring and metrics, and identifying other industries that can positively influence wellness architecture.





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14 Jun 2018
Looking forward as London prepares for MuseumNext
Museum delegates will soon gather in London for the European edition of this year's MuseumNext conference, which kicks off on Monday (18 June) for its 10th year.
14 Jun 2018
Luzhniki Stadium reopens to host opening game of FIFA World Cup
The 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup will kick off later today, marking the re-opening of what has been described as the "most high-tech stadium in World Cup history".
14 Jun 2018
Wellness Meets Fashion: GWS to feature runway show
The confluence of fashion and wellness will be explored during the first-ever Wellness Meets Fashion show, which will take place at the Global Wellness Summit’s (GWS) gala event on 7 October, 2018 in Cesena, Italy.
13 Jun 2018
Breaking: US, Canada and Mexico to host FIFA 2026 World Cup
A joint bid with the US, Mexico and Canada has been selected to host the FIFA 2026 World Cup, following a vote by the FIFA Congress today.
12 Jun 2018
Manchester City FC opens its facilities to kids during Active Uprising
Premier League club Manchester City FC (MCFC) will open its doors to children later this month, as part of the Active Uprising Weekend organised by ukactive.
12 Jun 2018
GOCO’s D’Angelo wins Black Diamond Award
The 11th annual Forum Hotel & Spa conference took place last week at the Four Seasons George V in Paris, bringing together spa and hospitality executives from France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Morocco, Portugal, Russia, Luxembourg, Great Britain and the US.
11 Jun 2018
Michelle Obama to keynote at Mindbody's BOLD Conference
Former First Lady, Michelle Obama, will give a keynote speech at this year's BOLD conference.
04 Jun 2018
Andy Burnham announced as Active Uprising headline speaker
Former health secretary and current Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has been confirmed as the headline speaker at this year's Active Uprising event.
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Diary dates
24 Apr - 26 Nov 2018
MAPIC Russia
Expocentre
Moscow
Russia
18-19 Jun 2018
Sports & Leisure Forum
Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted
Stansted
United Kingdom
18-19 Jun 2018
Spa Life International (Ireland)
Johnstown Estate Hotel & Spa
Enfield
Ireland
18-21 Jun 2018
MuseumNext Europe
tbc
London
United Kingdom
20-21 Jun 2018
MIPIM PropTech Europe
Palais des Congrès
Paris
France
20-23 Jun 2018
SPATEC Europe
Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi
Marrakech
Morocco
20-23 Jun 2018
Active Uprising
Manchester Central
Manchester
United Kingdom
23-25 Jun 2018
International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conference Las Vegas
Las Vegas Convention Center
Las Vegas
United States
24-26 Jun 2018
HOTEC Design
Loews Ventana Canyon Resort
Tucson
United States
27-28 Jun 2018
Major Events Summit
Exhibition Centre Liverpool
Liverpool
United Kingdom
02 Jul 2018
London Venues Summit
Hilton London Canary Wharf
London
United Kingdom
02-03 Jul 2018
Facilities Management Forum
The Principal
Manchester
06-08 Jul 2018
International Game and Amusement Fair (GAF)
Wuhan International Expo Center
Wuhan
China
11 Jul 2018
2018 Sport Summit: Why have we failed our children?
Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre
Westminster
United Kingdom
more diary dates
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