“If form & function is the anthem of architecture then the mental well-being of people residing in that space should be its rhythm.”
Yes, you read write architecture and designing can change the mood, improve and heal the mental well-being of people residing in that particular space, youth generally term it as a vibe of the room.
Going deep into it will arise questions like how architecture and designing could heal people, why mental well-being should be taken into consideration as a key essential while developing space and what benchmarks and examples can justify how can we procure the state of architecture developed to heal people mentally besides looking visually fascinating.
Table of Contents
“I’ve always seen architecture as a healing art, not as a beautification art.”
A profession defined as the space builder, creating dream places with the essence of comfort and luxury, adding up on, now creating spaces for the betterment of mental health as we the designers and architects develop spaces where people spend most of their time in either hush-bush mode or relaxing mode.
Architects and designers are multitaskers and as they chose these two professions, gradually with time, they better understand the state of mental well-being, hence creating the space which is indeed a healing therapy within, saving time and money and adding value to the living.
Earlier Key Essentials of Work Done by Architects
What work comes under the category of the architect is still a prolonged misconception, interior designers, civil engineers and architects these three professionals are usually misconceived by their work segregations as there is a slight line of differentiation between their work allotments.
Architects as preconceived and adapted over a long period are to be known as developers of exterior facades of any space be it commercial or residential making it look beautiful by adding the elements of design principles to the facades, yet going deep into the construction detail of that facade.
Future Key Essentials of Work Done by Architects
As we all know there is always advancement in everything as time being passed and necessity by time revives itself, same goes on with architecture the thumb rule of creating exterior facades remains the same but extension within adds upon sustainability, health, mental well-being etc. that is morality adding up into construction simply to generate a better lifestyle and that is what coined as sustainable design, sustainable architecture, healing architecture etc.
As it is highly important for an architect to believe in “form follows function” it is simultaneously vital for an architect to understand how a space is inclined towards the sunlight of sustainability, mental well-being and a healthy environment.
But before learning how architects can achieve a space as a healing aid, and discussing the examples of healing architecture let’s have the spotlight shifted to mental disorders and their healing.
Mental instability & its Healing
The past two years have taught this world the importance of life, have given lessons about immunity, and physical fitness and of course the lockdowns showcased the mirror of how strong you are mental.
As there is a common phrase “where there is a will there is a way” mental instability, anxiety and depression all have a cure within yourself just chase the right perspective of vision, follow nature and the answers lie in it. Nature is the best healer for any kind of instability, surrounding yourself in a tough time with bountiful nature rejuvenates and inspires us.
Diseases are unwanted parts of our life just like weeds of the plant, lifestyle improvement is just a precaution or at times prevention to those, hence indulging this healing or an act of prevention to those weeds in the space we are living is of who’s a concern, the person who is creating it, right! a job that interior designers and architects do.
Some people cope with instability in their mental well-being and some people lost their ways of life in those horror lanes of anxiety and depression, so I being the speaker of architecture and designing community want to aware my community that space created by us can give better environment and surroundings to cope up in their tough phases of life.
Domains Of Healing Architecture
Above discussing the need to heal in architecture, examples inspiring the zeal to heal architecture & elements of design modified to heal interiors as well. Now coming technically to go into the OHE framework i.e., Optimal Healing Environment is the result of four domains they are, internal, interpersonal, behavioural and external on which the architecture community relies and is working to heal these four.
Internal is the healing of the soul as the word suggests healing internally and achieving personal wholeness.
Interpersonal, a human being is much worried about the surroundings, may it a relationship with others or the way people meet you, and organise with you that is interpersonal healing.
A behavioural, healthy lifestyle is the key to healing, eating good, nutritious food and a balanced diet could make you heal your body rather than detoxifying the dirt and cleaning the body along with healing the soul.
External, at the end summing up all healing domains, comes with healing of ecology and sustainability because as you heal your soul, and clean your boat then the surroundings should be made pure so that you can enjoy the inner and outer beauty together.
Linking Architecture & Mental Healing
“Architecture is really about well-being; I think that people want to feel good in a space. On the one hand, it’s about shelter, but it’s also about pleasure.”
Despite these two being divergent lanes from one another in terms of working aspects yet are correlated and inseparable to develop each of them individually. These two phenomena are separate in their existences like architecture is the creation of space whereas mental healing is a practice to stabilise one’s mental state.
Architecture is a visible practice but mental healing is the feeling of sensation.
Architecture is the field of drama between the tools and equipment, the site being the stage and workers over there are the spot boys, actors and actresses pleasing the audiences and the clients with the script created by the director or the design creator, the architect. While mental healing is as similar to a nature walk as you get to know more about nature you will feel better, sarcastically there are so many species in nature that it forces you to forget your critical life issues and adore the beauty of variety.
Still being so distinct from each other, architecture when developed with the value of mental well-being will sure shot be a masterstroke in space workability, adaptability and accessibility.
Mental well-being when shaking hands with architecture a space is developed with design in its peace and people residing in that space are dancing to the beats of sound coming from the nature surrounding, as nature teaches us to heal, be benevolent, be sturdy in every situation and what not, uncountable hence incorporating it in our place not only to inhale fresh oxygen but also letting that fresh air replenish each cell within. So, to create this bond strong we need to shift our vision of design towards making spaces to heal people mentally and fascinate them visually.
Healing Through Architecture
Earlier we designed spaces to save the environment, making them workable and adaptable now our new vision is to create a space which heals people and is environment-friendly, workable and adaptable. Let me guide you through the way, and how can we do it.
Elements of design for Healing Spaces
Humans feel the world around them through their five senses of touch, smell, taste, vision and sound so focussing on and healing these five could heal the human as a whole. Creating the design in such a way that its essence touches the human, the rhythmic sound should be the harmony of design, comfort and leisure is the real taste, luxury and bespoke elements a treat to the vision, and fragrances of natural elements could be inhaled, a sum up to what architects need to create.
So concerning healing our five senses in turn healing the architecture let’s discuss those components of space.
Every architect and designer are experts at developing pinholes in the form of skylights or windows or door openings to capture the sunlight within the space which in turn reduces the burden on artificial lighting and those tints of warm tone entering through the window are a sign of hope, in turn, healing people.
Wind Direction & Cross Ventilation
Wind flowing from northeast to southwest direction in India needs to be captured within the space created which when flowing within that space, heals through its purity and freshness.
Green in spaces
Adding spaces like courtyards, gardens, and kitchen gardens not only adds green life to the space but also is a breakthrough from the walls going on continuously. Green elements, incorporation of indoor plants, and natural vegetation within can heal your soul as vegetation along with it adds the chirping of birds, babbles of water flowing, and sounds of wind crossing through the green vegetation in its serenity, all welcomed when there is green addition to space.
India is a land of diverse climates and religions, hence designing spaces following the adaptability of people belonging to that area is itself healing within.
Elements of Design
A space is undefined without the elements of design be it colour, texture, artificial lighting, patterns form etc., wondering why hospitals are white & blue in the shade because they are the colours of peace and trust, why restaurants and bars are in dim light and vibrant in colours (this you may be knowing) hence healing through elements of design is still untouched which could be approached by incorporating motivational quotes and paintings on the wall of a rehabilitation centre, just an example many more to explore.
Healing through the above listed is just one step to creating, shaping and moving forward in this field in a niche ailing towards better living. There are some spaces created earlier from which we designers and architects can aspire, evolve and adore them to generate new pieces to heal architecture, let’s read them below.
Examples of Adore & Heal
Healing architecture is not a fresh term, designers and architects have worked on it earlier as mental well-being was not unwell for a long period just the temperature of it decreases and increases with time. Here are some examples from a huge list to sit back and read about.
Drug De-Addiction centre Muktangan Mitra
A healing structure developed in 1986 by Ar. Shirish Beri in Pune is phenomenal in its way of creation with amphitheatres connecting internal parts visually, green surroundings, proper ventilation, and stone cladding walls all to rehabilitate the patients through traumas and anxiety, with a neutral colour palette giving subtleness in totality. Stepped balconies at its perimeter are there to stand and amplify the beauty of western ghats.
Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre & Research Institute
The 13-acre cancer centre can also be designed, yes, it was done by Anjan Gupta Architects in 1973 ensuring the facade is colourful and green, making the interior airy and fresh to stimulate and foster the patients towards better living. Three water bodies within the campus is the highlighting feature embodying the serenity within.
Karun Ashraya, Bangalore Hospice Trust
The hospice centre at Marathahalli, Bangalore is the beauty and well-being together. Patients are cured through treatment and healed with scenic beauty.
Above listed are the examples of Indian origin only, there are foreign-origin buildings setting examples of healing architecture but I believe in lifting it in India more as there is a differentiation of scope of this field in Indian cities and foreign cities, hence promoting this in India by Indian examples would indeed boost the industry and let everyone realise the importance of raising it.
Healing Architecture for Hospitals
Having separated this as a different topic of discussion is done just to highlight it, making it important among all, because hospitals are the space of hope, betterment and life and healing these spaces in terms of architecture and interior design will be a step towards the betterment of patients’ health.
Automation in Healing Architecture
Hospitals are the pace of different germs and bacteria’s masks, and gloves are prevention to those from spreading, but how will it be if we had automation i.e. sensor doors or contactless door openings which could reduce the touch of our hands-on doors, stopping the germs and bacteria to carry forward in a loop.
Anti-bacterial Finishing Material
Post covid things have changed in, the industries making materials for architecture and interior design is much more aware to produce such material which is anti-bacterial i.e., either absorbing those bacteria or treating them within, to reduce their propagation and can be implanted in space like these.
Glass facade and greens within
Glass facades to see through the outer world and join that soon, green within to rejuvenate, replenish and revive again.
Here the sound is noise, the unwanted sound of hardware fitted in doors, windows, shutters and partitions often disrupts the patient’s stability hence the furnishings should be fixed on soundproof and soft-close hardware.
A truth hard to accept is people in hospitals do smoke, but a separate area segregated during the planning time would indeed prevent the smoke from hindering the inhalation of patients.
We never know how better can an industry grow but including humanism, social life and the environment in any sector could develop an industry to grow better, hence if we want to make this field of architecture and interior design, we should develop spaces and facades carefully keeping in mind the resources, the people residing and the surroundings to meet their comfort, seek luxury in vision and is functionally adaptable.