There are so many things that go into wellness – nutrition, scent, light, sound, exercise, emotional wellbeing physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing and so on. The spaces in which we spend time also contributes to how we feel, at home and on a dedicated wellness escape.
As we have all been paying more attention to the environments in which we spend time lately, it’s no wonder that wellness has found its way into architecture and interior design. Why is it important and where can you find some of the most inspired wellness architecture?
For years we have spoken about SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder), and we know that light has an impact on our energy levels and how we feel. We tend to feel sleepier when the light fades, we feel more awake when it’s bright, and we can feel low without enough quality light and vitamin D to go with it.
It’s little wonder in that case that so many of us gravitate towards big open spaces with large windows and lots of natural light. Wellness environments have been extolling the virtues of natural light for a long time and it’s not just because it looks nice – it has an impact on the spa experience too.
There are numerous articles on the topic of light and mood, but summing it up, Forbes reported that “bad lighting is associated with a range of ill-health effects, both physical and mental, such as eye strain, headaches, fatigue and also stress and anxiety”, while “ Often just 13-15 mins of exposure to natural light are enough to trigger the release of endorphins or ‘happy hormones’.”
Sound, or the lack thereof can also have a profound impact on how we feel. Even the sounds that we don’t consciously notice can cause us a lot of low level stress that accumulates over time. Meanwhile, we know that soothing sounds (nice music, flowing water, the wind in the trees, the sound of the sea), can have a positive impact on how we feel.
For that reason, acoustics are one of the invisible elements that interior designers think about more and more when designing the places in which we live, work and relax. The BBC reported: “Noisy work and home settings have been proven to annoy people, and noise annoyance itself has been linked to depression and anxiety.”
Spas often take the wellness factor of sound up a notch and not only seek to minimise or eliminate negative sound but also harness the healing powers of sound too. Sound baths have been known to not only have a positive impact on how we feel, but even reducing physical pain and tension.
Sustainability is an increasingly big part of every inch of our lives. It is counterintuitive to think that our own wellness can exist without the wellness of the environment around us.
More and more spas and hotels are looking at ways that they can neutralise their impact on the environment – reduce waste production rather than simply recycle for example. This approach often finds its way into the architecture and design of a spa. We have also seen this in the rise of biophilic design – bringing plants into interior spaces with living walls, for example.
We all love a good Farrow and Ball colour palette, and when it comes to decorating spaces, the colour is also important for the way we feel. In spas, colour therapy has been used frequently in a similar manner to aromatherapy.
Some research shows that colour can even influence our heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. Naturopath Sue Davis from Lifehouse Spa and Hotel has long been an advocate – she says “All colours have different meanings,” says Sue, so “if you want more energy you might wear red for the day, or green if you want to feel relaxed.”
Obviously these are just a few examples of how architecture and design is inextricably linked with wellness. How a space looks and feels is important to the experiences that we have and their effectiveness on our health. Whether that’s in a luxury spa environment or in the privacy of our own homes.
Lifehouse Spa and Hotel, Essex
The spa lets in masses of natural light for an uplifting sense of wellness as you go about your day.
The Salthouse Hotel, County Antrim
The Salthouse in Ireland is a shining beacon of an example, where they have their own windmill to generate electricity, water comes from their own well and they have solar panels for heating. They actually have a negative carbon footprint, meaning they produce more energy than they use.
Glass House Retreat
This eco-friendly building includes solar panels, a ground source heat pump, and rainwater recycling technology as well as an abundance of natural light.
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