Wellness Infusion: Designing Moments that Foster Health-Supporting Behaviors

The way we built in the last few decades created new health risks – sedentary lifestyles, lack of physical activity, poor diet, stress, social isolation, and environmental degradation. Our built environment favors driving over biking, sitting over walking, riding in elevators over using the stairs, texting over face-to-face conversations, and screen time over outdoor recreation.

GBBN’s Scott Vidourek and Sayali Wazalwar recently addressed the American Institute of Architects Ohio Valley Region Conference. There they made the case that to truly enhance human well-being, architects need to look beyond the primary functions of the spaces they design. Specifically, architects should ask how these spaces can support the health and well-being of their occupants.

Buildings can be designed to cue us towards activities and behaviors. Architectural practice must focus on designing moments for health-supporting human behaviors. A simple feature, such as a welcoming, centrally-located stairway can be more than a set of stairs. More than a way of moving people from one place to another, a well-designed stairway can encourage physical activity and social connection. It can provide access to natural light and intellectually stimulating conversation.

This concept of designing for health-supporting behavior, Scott and Sayali have termed “wellness infusion.” By infusing our design with these kinds of moments, we can promote key dimensions of human wellness: physical, environmental, social, intellectual, occupational, financial, spiritual, and emotional well-being. In short, we can design an experience that supports the whole person.

Not only do patients benefit from a more holistic approach, but so do healthcare workers and their employers. By providing spaces that support the well-being of their employees, Scott and Sayali suggest, employers will reap long-term benefits from increased employee retention, satisfaction, and productivity.

Click here to view the full presentation.

Read more about Scott or Sayali.