Fri 11 January 2019
When businesses think about protecting the health of their employees, initial thoughts are bound to gravitate towards exercise, food and nutrition, emotional wellbeing and ensuring a healthy work/life balance.
The building within which they work is likely to come some way down the list of considerations, if at all, because a building can’t make you sick - can it?
There are, in fact, many surprising ways that buildings - offices or residential dwellings - can affect your health and general wellbeing.
Research by Opinium found that Brits spent, on average, 22 hours a day indoors. That’s 90% of their time. Taking that into consideration, it’s maybe a little easier to understand the impact that the built environment can have on us.
Investigations into so called ‘sick buildings’, where illness, absenteeism and mental health issues in workers was seemingly rife, have identified issues caused by poor ventilation, dampness and mould, lack of natural lighting and poor layout.
What has also been discovered is that significant amounts of money and unnecessary pain and discomfort can saved if buildings are built with people in mind and optimised for human health.
Adam Mokhtar, Co-founder and Director of ArchiPhonic, said: “We champion empathetic and healthy design for our clients. That means that we put people at the heart of everything we create, from residential schemes for rental and sale to commercial buildings. We consider everything from the physical health of inhabitants, to the way in which they will use the space and its facilities.”
Lighting and Views
Introducing more natural light into a building can provide benefits such as improvement in eyesight, better sleep quality and reduced symptoms of depression, while a lack of it - or the use of harsh fluorescent lighting - has been associated with physiological, sleep, and depressive symptoms. Visual access to the natural environment, through considering views from a building when designing it, can also have a huge positive effect on mood, wellbeing and productivity.
See how ArchiPhonic introduced plenty of natural light into one of their projects here.
Buildings that have poor ventilation are often stuffy and unpleasant to work or live in. What’s more, they can cause an increase in symptoms such as headache, fatigue, breathlessness, sinus congestion, cough, sneezing, eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation, dizziness, and nausea, due to fresh air not being adequately circulated and distributed and pollutants like CO2, generated by people in the building not being diluted.
A poorly designed office space can reduce the amount of physical activity that employees do during the working day. Dingy stairwell tucked away in dark corners may force people to take the lift instead. Active design can be used to counter this, incorporating design elements that promote and encourage activity. This includes ergonomic furnishings, clusters of printers and refreshment facilities and bright, prominent and easily accessible staircases to encourage workers to get more steps in, boosting overall health.
Access to Nature & Outdoors
Countless studies have shown that access to nature and the outdoors benefits mental health. So, it follows that buildings with little outdoor space or no access to nature will see more inhabitants with mental health issues such as depression, stress and anxiety. This can be countered by incorporating as much outdoor space as possible into the design, opening up views to natural landscapes and placing plants strategically throughout the building.
Find out how ArchiPhonic redesigned a client’s residential scheme to ensure all units had access to outdoor space (while also increasing the number of units and yield) here.
To contact ArchiPhonic about your next private, residential or commercial building project visit https://archiphonic.co.uk/ or call 0151 345 7600