Angela Mazzi Attends Swiss Center for Design & Health Symposium

GBBN Principal, Angela Mazzi FAIA, FACHA, EDAC recently travelled to Biel, Switzerland to present her research at the Symposium on Design and Health: Practice, Research and Social Relevance – an international health and design event.

Hosted by the Swiss Center for Design & Health, a research institute that connects interdisciplinary university research to private industry, the two-day symposium brought together an international contingent of health and design experts. One of only five presenters, Angela, presented her work to the symposium on the first day. On the second day, she workshopped the ideas she had presented with her fellow symposiasts.

“It was a fantastic event,” Angela reports. “The symposium brought together scientists, experts in public health, healthcare providers, medical anthropologists, artists, and more, so the conversation was always wide-ranging and enriched by multiple, expert perspectives.”

Titled “Improving our Environment: Exploring the Design/Health Axis,” Angela’s presentation explored the intersection of biology, neuroscience, and architecture. In it, she elaborates a salutogenic (“health-generating”) framework for design, which frames thinking about the built environment in terms of providing people with the resources they need to cope with internally and externally generated stressors. This strategy counteracts negative impacts of the “exposome,” the external environmental and socioeconomic conditions that cause stress and negatively impact our internal bodily processes.

“The presentation makes the case that you can’t control the stressors that people experience before arriving in a space,” Angela says, “but by providing generalized resistance resources within the space, we can help people cope with stressors that are impairing their health.”

“The crowd was receptive to the idea, and the workshop on the second day centered around questions of how to more effectively implement these ideas in built projects and how to document the outcomes by isolating design variables.” 

To learn more about salutogenesis in design, see Angela’s presentation or read her insight on salutogenesis in cancer care environments.

For an in-depth exploration of salutogenesis, read “Toward a Unified Language (and Application) of Salutogenic Design” in HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal.

Learn more about Angela by visiting her profile here or reading about HCD 10 Award from Healthcare Design magazine.