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Thursday 17 August 2017
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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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04 Aug 2017
Well+Good founders Brue and Gelula to deliver millennial keynote at GWS
Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula, founders of US-based wellness media firm Well+Good, will deliver the keynote session at the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) in October.
01 Aug 2017
Merlin chief executive to deliver keynote address at IAAPA 2017
Merlin Entertainments CEO Nick Varney has been named keynote speaker for the 2017 IAAPA attractions expo in Orlando, Florida.
28 Jul 2017
Birmingham and Liverpool clear first hurdle in bid to host Commonwealth Games
Birmingham and Liverpool’s hopes of hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games are still intact after both passed the initial assessment phase in the UK city selection process.
28 Jul 2017
Piscina & Wellness to feature expanded wellness experience at Barcelona event
Piscina & Wellness Barcelona will feature an expanded “spa showroom” at this year’s event, thanks to unprecedented increase in the number of exhibitors at the trade fair.
26 Jul 2017
Global Wellness Summit announces three new advisory board members
Investment advisor Omer K Isvan, Gwinganna owner Tony de Leede, and spa entrepreneur Yoriko Soma have all joined the Global Wellness Summit’s advisory board.
26 Jul 2017
Cidesco reveals speaker line-up for World Congress in Mumbai
Ayurvedic specialist Dr. Kannan Nettath will be among the speakers at this year’s Cidesco World Congress and Exhibition, which will be held in Mumbai, India from 15 to 19 September.
14 Jul 2017
Disney reveals scale model of new Star Wars lands at D23
Disney has offered its most in-depth look at its upcoming Star Wars Land yet, unveiling a scale model of the attraction ahead of the D23 fan expo taking place this weekend in Anaheim, California.
12 Jul 2017
IOC: 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games hosts will be named at the same time
Both the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games will be awarded to their respective hosts at the same time in an unprecedented move announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
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