February 12, 2018 \ Studio
by Laura Graham
Interiors have a unique haptic, sensory quality, enhanced by the judicious use of materials, and involving all five of our senses – touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight.
How do buildings affect people? A number of years ago, it was suggested by a high-profile politician that there was no evidential link between good design and the performance of children at school. However, there is an increasing body of evidence that suggests that there is a direct link between quality of environment and personal wellbeing and mental health. Studies in the US have found physiological evidence of mental health issues being exacerbated by poorly designed urban spaces and buildings, leading to greater levels of anxiety and stress. Similarly, research in the UK has found that access to green space can significantly lower the health effects of inequality, and your likelihood of developing circulatory diseases.
Our colleague Laura presented her thesis project to the office, Habitat Health and Wellbeing Centre, a therapy and wellbeing centre proposed for the south side of Glasgow. Set in the historic woodland park of Rouken Glen, the proposal was to re-use an abandoned stables, cottage and clock house, turning these into a new holistic therapy centre. Offering light therapy, massage therapy, swimming, gardening, meditation and fitness spaces, the centre would act as a retreat for individuals suffering from depression, stress and anxiety, but also a place of access and respite for all. If facilities like this were numerous, and embedded in our society, would we see a benefit in the context of the mental health challenges we are facing?
Beyond the physical environment in which we spend time, there is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that services and centres that bring people together have a greatly beneficial effect on wellbeing and mental health. Loneliness is an increasing issue in the UK, not just in the oft-stated case of older individuals, but also amongst young people, with a recent study finding that 83 percent of 18-24 year olds say that they are sometimes, often or always lonely. The reasons for this are multiple and complex, but we know that with an ever increasing and aging population, there is a significant challenge for us all, including those in the design profession.
In many ways, this is a field in which the role of interior design, and the interior designer, can have a significant impact. The building interior is that part with which we have the most direct connection – being immersed within in it, and having a physical link with many of its elements – from the front door in. Interiors have a unique haptic, sensory quality, enhanced by the judicious use of materials to touch. They are in direct connection with how we use our buildings, thus involving all five of our senses – touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight. With the importance of physical and mental wellbeing today and moving forwards, the role of interior design to create stimulating, non-institutional, beneficial spaces for all is going to be paramount.
February 5, 2018 \ Studio
by Christine Turnbull
An inter-generational housing approach could be one of a number of solutions implemented to overcome social exclusion of the elderly.