Is this the shape of wellness architecture to come?

Pubblicato
23 Jan 2024

Lettura
2 min


Explore the future of wellness architecture through trends and case studies – from a Finnish sauna restaurant to UK cabins and a calming Canadian vet clinic

‘Wellness’ is the buzzword of the moment, and its subgenre, ‘wellness architecture’, is popping up everywhere too; but what do they mean exactly? Is wellness about connecting with nature in ways that amplify relaxation and harmony? Does it mean embracing clean living and a back-to-basics simplicity? Or is it about building resilience and breaking through your comfort zone? It can be all three, but given that studies show that we spend 90 per cent of our time indoors, buildings have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing, and architects are considering all options in their designs of offices, schools, hotels and hospitals.

‘The role that mental health and wellbeing at the workplace play in our welfare are now better appreciated than before,’ says Italian architect Mario Cucinella. ‘It’s about finding the right balance to live in harmony with the planet and ourselves.’ Cucinella is one of many architects tuning into biophilic design and incorporating natural elements into his schemes which range from high-rise housing in Rome and Vienna that burst with greenery, to hospitals and offices. ‘The way we occupy the earth through our buildings is critical in this equation,’ he adds.

To this end, medical spas and luxury hotels are emphasising nature and the outdoors, adding guided forest walks, ice bathing and wild swimming to the mix – and a raft of cabin builders have never been so busy, as we equate wellness with retreating into the woods. ‘Natural materials, spaces that are connected to nature and that enable people to feel part of a community are all important,’ says Mikko Jakonen of Finnish architects Puisto, whose retirement homes are designed to be places that are tempting to move into, rather than being ‘a last resort’. Old-fashioned remedies such as fresh air, peace and quiet, and a good night’s sleep have never been so popular.

Wellness architecture: trend-setting case studies

New Hospital of Cremona, Italy

Ever since Florence Nightingale advocated natural light, ventilation and greenery in hospitals in the 19th century, these important spaces for healthcare and wellness have, more often than not, steadily deteriorated into over-lit, over-heated and even inhospitable places. But the New Hospital of Cremona near Milan changes tack. Featuring a health park, a library and short-term residences for patients and families, along with natural light, greenery and space for ever-evolving high-tech care, it ‘returns to the idea of the hospital as part of the life of the city’, says its creator, architect Mario Cucinella.

Visual by MCA Visual

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