How do you define wellness? What factors are visible and invisible? Tangible and intangible? How can the design community communicate wellness to users and the public? Why is designing for wellness important?
Dattner Architects’ Senior Associate and Director of Interiors, Sara Agrest AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, explored this increasingly relevant topic and more at the “Wellness in Living: Elevating Design in Affordable Housing” panel on May 20, 2019. Held at the Javits Center, as part of the ICFF Talks Conference, Sara was joined by Christoph Stumph (Vice President, Trinity Financial), Elena Brescia (Principal, SCAPE), Thomas Ciano (Vice President of Real Estate Operation, Monadnock Development), Anna Obraztsova (Vice President, Delos), and Deborah Rose (Deputy COO, ICL) with Amanda Kaminsky (Founder & Principal, Building Product Ecosystems) as moderator.
Affordable housing has evolved significantly over time. While always rooted in providing low- and moderate-income Americans with a home that is within their means, it is often institutionalized and focused on cost and durability, rather than how a home can be impactful in changing people’s lives.
At Dattner Architects, we believe interior spaces are transformative. With the power to shape the experience of each person, the interiors of a home, office, classroom, library, and hospital convey more than just the physical components of their design. These intimate spaces have the power to impact each person emotionally and subconsciously. Unlike a building’s exterior/facade, these are the spaces we inhabit, where we come in closest contact, enabling them to have the greatest impact in our lives. Thoughtful interior architecture can inspire, empower, heal, and teach.
In designing for the public realm, our mission is that great design should be accessible to all. Mindful of the needs, health, and wellness of our affordable housing clients, thoughtful design, healthy and inspirational materials, and appropriate lighting can inspire and empower those who are most vulnerable. We are changing the paradigm of affordable housing. Well-designed and healthy buildings have a strong human impact on the daily lives of the individuals that inhabit them, improving the quality of life and instilling the pride of “home.” Each affordable housing project has the ability to positively impact the neighborhood, revitalize communities, and create safer environments. Furthermore, non-profit and community service organizations who closely collaborate and develop these projects are having greater visibility for their organization’s mission.
The “Wellness in Living” panel brought together voices from these various backgrounds, allowing for a well-rounded and well-informed discussion on wellness and the commitment to providing a healthy and safe space for families to live and play.