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Friday 23 February 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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20 Feb 2018
Green Spa Network to host GWI Roundtable
“Inspire action and create community through storytelling” will be the theme for the Green Spa Congress 2018, the annual conference of the Green Spa Network.
15 Feb 2018
Leisure Opportunities is doing an apprenticeship survey – take part!
To coincide with National Apprenticeship Week in March, Leisure Opportunities is undertaking an employer survey on the leisure industry’s needs and appetites for hiring apprentices.
15 Feb 2018
Cardiff Council reveals preferred location for new £110m indoor arena
Atlantic Wharf in Cardiff has been selected as the preferred site for a new 15,000-seat indoor arena.
13 Feb 2018
Happiness expert Shawn Achor to open ISPA 2018
The International Spa Association (ISPA) has announced that happiness expert Shawn Achor will deliver the opening keynote speech at the 28th annual ISPA Conference & Expo, which takes place in Phoenix from 24-26 September.
09 Feb 2018
Floating ice rink brings Raiders back to Romford at new £28m leisure centre
A ‘floating’ ice rink has opened in Romford as part of a new £28m leisure centre built to improve sports and fitness facilities in the area.
08 Feb 2018
UK’s first Coaching Week to celebrate wider impact of sports coaches
Great sports coaching will be celebrated in the UK’s first dedicated Coaching Week, to be held in June.
07 Feb 2018
De Leede and Kyricos named chairs of Global Wellness Summit
The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) has named fitness and wellness entrepreneur Tony de Leede and wellness consultant Mia Kyricos as co-chairs of this year’s event.
06 Feb 2018
Michael Mosley to headline first Elevate Conference
TV journalist and presenter Dr Michael Mosley has been announced as a keynote speaker for this year’s inaugural Elevate Conference in London.
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Diary dates
25-26 Feb 2018
Professional Beauty London
ExCeL London
London
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25-26 Feb 2018
World Spa & Wellness Convention London
ExCeL London
London
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Fitness Industry Live
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London
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25-26 Feb 2018
International Manufacturers and Distributors Forum
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London
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27 Feb - 01 Mar 2018
HI Design MEA: Hotel Interior Design: The Decision Makers' Forum
Grand Hyatt, Doha Hotel & Villas
Doha
Qatar
01-02 Mar 2018
British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS) Conference
BBC MediaCityUK
Salford
United Kingdom
04-05 Mar 2018
Professional Beauty Cape Town
The Lookout
Cape Town
South Africa
04-06 Mar 2018
International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conference New York
Javits Convention Center
New York
United States
05-06 Mar 2018
Healing Summit
Hotel de Rome
Berlin
Germany
05-06 Mar 2018
Professional Beauty Bangalore
Manpho Convention Centre
Bangalore
India
05-07 Mar 2018
International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF)
Hotel InterContinental
Berlin
Germany
05-09 Mar 2018
National Apprenticeship Week 2018
Various
06 Mar 2018
Women in Wellness Leadership Conference
Convene
New York
United States
07-09 Mar 2018
Global Active City Introductory Workshop
Liverpool Echo Arena
Liverpool
United Kingdom
more diary dates
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