Nowadays, the well-used term ‘sustainability’ appears as a marketing label for promotion and advertising. What does it mean? How can we use sustainability with intelligence to create an outstanding design?
In ecology, sustainability is how biological systems remain diverse and productive. Healthy and long-lived wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. Generally, it is the balanced endurance of systems and processes. Therefore, it is far deeper and more complex than most of us realise.
The organising principle for sustainability is sustainable development, which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture.
Well-being is a general term for the condition of an individual or group, for example, their social, economic, psychological, spiritual or medical state. High well-being means that, in some sense, the individual or group’s experience is positive, while low well-being is associated with negative happenings. To maintain balance, it is essential to reflect on sustainable architectural design as a part of our well-being.
How do we create a sustainable design for engineering well-being?
Part of the sustainability journey is creating a space that heightens and engineers our well- being. How do we create sustainable design to engineer our well-being?
The factors to be considered include the following:
- The site and its unique features
- The client’s lifestyle
- What creates joy for the client?
- Do the clients see their space/home, as a place of refuge, or a gathering space for social interactions.
- Consideration of what materials to be utilised, will they have negative or positive consequence on earth’s natural resources and the environment?
- Using natural materials, wherever possible with minimal harmful off-gassing, such as rammed earth, CLT (cross laminated timber) and wood flooring are of a high vibration and are tactile and pleasing to the eye
- Design, where possible, to minimise site excavation and therefore lessen the impact on the natural environment
- Smaller and efficient well-designed spaces that reduce our energy consumption
- Utilising the surrounding environment and introduce permaculture in the design and green walls
- Earth-based approach to design layouts
- Harvesting the energy of the sun by applying passive/solar design and solar panels and allowing for immense natural light to enhance our well-being
- Capturing prevailing breezes and cross ventilation can improve a person’s mood and clear stagnant air which, therefore helps maintain overall health
The above approaches to architectural design expose and reveal how we may promote wellness in our built and natural environment.
Where to next?
There is a newer approach that a few consultants are now using based around intuitive land readings. This understanding enables us to gather a deeper understanding of the proposed site. This ancient way of understanding a site and can determine outcomes akin to the rhythms of our soul once listened to and understood.
When we can utilise true sustainability in our approach to architecture and design, it will engender the wellness of the mind/ body and soul.
As architects and designers, there is a responsibility to create this within all our approaches and not just latch onto the latest marketing catch-cry. It is a far more profound and far more sustaining approach to our lives.