Wellness Trends for 2017 : Trend #2 Wellness Architecture

Written By: Lauren Holmes

As Summit presenter, Whitney Gray, PhD, of Delos Living put it “I’ve never met an architect or real estate developer with any formal training in human health.” Architecture has been far too preoccupied with surface aesthetics: with architect-god-heroes conceiving designs to wow, shock, or lay claim to the cutting-edge. Much ego, much beauty on the covers of the Architectural Digests, but with oddly little attention paid to creating designs and using materials that improve the health and happiness of the humans who actually live and work in them – which, last time we checked, was the point of buildings. But now, through new standards and technologies, building for human health – and a new “wellness architecture” – will be one of the biggest (and most impactful) future wellness trends. The strategies will span the simple, like deploying plants that excel at removing deadly air toxins to the highest-tech, like “living” buildings with walls made of algae biofuel cells that grow their own energy or new phone apps that alert you when you’re entering a “sick” building. From air quality to indoor acoustics, everything in the built environment will be reevaluated and reengineered.

Wellness design is key at Six Senses' Qing Cheng Mountain Resort.

From an information-packed panel on “Wellness Architecture and Design” (led by Liz Terry, CEO, Leisure Media; Editor, CLAD Magazine), with Anne Marie Aguilar and Vicki Lockhart (executives from global design and engineering firm, ARUP), Lars Kruckeberg (founder, GRAFT Architects) and Neil Jacobs (CEO, Six Senses) to a workshop from DELOS Living on “Wellness Activation in Real Estate and Hospitality” (with President, Alfredo Carvajal and SVP, Whitney Gray, PhD), Summit architecture, design and wellness experts detailed how everything in buildings will be rethought in the future: air, ventilation, water, light, sleep, and sound/acoustics – even designing “in” more human movement.

The Past: Architecture has long been obsessed with surface aesthetics, but with precious little attention paid to design and materials that address the physical and mental health of the people that have to live and work in them. So people worldwide have spent far too much time in dangerous “sick” buildings.

Delos' Stay Well rooms, with everything from air purification to dawn simulating lighting.

The Future: So many new technologies are making possible a new “wellness architecture” - which is emerging as one of the most meaningful future wellness trends. Along with new standards that do for healthy-for-human building what LEED did for the environment.

Hotels and wellness retreats need to be leaders in the wellness architecture revolution, and many already are. For instance, Neil Jacobs, CEO of Six Senses, and Kruckeberg of GRAFT (one of their partner architects) explained the brand’s new directions: • Six Senses’ new Douros Valley (Portugal) property was redesigned by a sacred geometrist, using geometry, harmonics and mathematical ratios so that guests will resonate at both cellular and conscious levels with the environment. (Ancient building philosophies can teach us as much about “well building” as the high-tech.)

The under-development Six Senses Gammarth Tunisia uses ancient North African architectural philosophies to create a healthy-for-humans retreat.