Mental and emotional health are always important topics, and they have become even more vital during the pandemic and surrounding global response. Creating a safe and healthy environment in which residents can thrive starts with the development. These efforts, whether through design, programming, services, or amenities, are not only for residents but play a crucial role in the success of an entire community.
As designers, we have an obligation to address health and wellness in the spaces we create, so we asked our design teams to examine how the power of design can impact residents overall mental, physical and psychological health in a positive way.
We nailed down three major approaches to support residents need for holistic wellness which can be achieved through strategies for health, safety, and access to nature.
For many, the rise of remote working has meant more time at home. Whether residents want to boost their mood, lower their blood pressure, or decrease bad habits, there are plenty of evidence-based strategies that optimize amenity, lounging, and active areas.
We found these spaces have the highest appeal to residents when they have a focus on promoting human comfort. Whether its communing with others while still maintaining their own personal space or having closer interactions, there are a bevy or space planning options that will attract both sides.
Flexible and meandering sectionals with accent tables signify personal space while round tables with a collection of club chairs or a cluster of colorful booths invite groups and gatherings. And let’s not forgot the gym where the stress of everyday life can be fought and won with yoga rooms and jogging tracks, as well as weight and cardio options that can be completed indoor or outdoor.
Additionally, quantified research points to a spectrum of colors that affect feelings and mood. Creating balance and contrast with different colors and hues such as blue, green, and purple, especially in cool muted hues, can be very calming.
Units must not be overlooked. Plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows with access to natural light and increased balcony space can enhance a resident’s living situation.
Access to Nature
Psychological research is advancing our understanding of how time in nature can improve our mental health and sharpen our cognition. According to the American Psychological Association, exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.
Current trends in the multifamily market heavily emphasize outdoor social areas and connections to existing green spaces. When developing in an urban, town-centered market, integrated green spaces such as internal courtyards, rooftop decks, and landscaped pool decks offer a simple on-site solution. Walking distance to recreational yards for public events, ceremonies, and performances as well as trail access and urban farming also foster an essential indoor/outdoor connection.
Incorporating biophilic design, or the practice of connecting people and nature, are also proven to improve mood and an overall sense of well-being with green walls, skylights, and sliding doors that blur the line between man-made structures and nature.
Resident safety is always a top priority. However, the larger the community, the more challenging it becomes to keep people and property safe. With more units, varied points of access, and on-site employees also come more opportunities for gaps in security.
All public areas such as bathrooms, corridors, and unit entrances should be well-lit as tenants can become vulnerable when reaching for their keys.
Corridors need to be inviting and spacious for high traffic and allow opportunities for short interactions while communal areas should be outfitted for several types of exchanges in the way of private secluded pods or open and spacious groupings.
Pavilions and outdoor spaces like dog parks, pool decks and gaming areas should be designed for open, human interaction and places to stand, sit, or stroll. These highly sought-after resident areas inspire a sense of connectivity and should be highly visible and accessible from the leasing office with views from as many units as possible. Ground-level units with patios, can have the option to directly access outdoor common spaces.
To partner with HPA Design Group for your next wellness-infused project, contact our Regional Business Developer, Amy Becker, at firstname.lastname@example.org