When people think of buildings that enhance health, they think of places like hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities — none of which are known for being the most attractive of buildings. Still, that doesn’t mean that just because something is good for you, it has to be boring. For Ekkist, a Guildford, UK-based design consultancy that specializes in creating buildings that encourage healthy living, architecture can be simultaneously healthy, enlightening, and environmentally sustainable. By focusing on all three areas rather than isolating them, Ekkist is able to help design professionals create more holistic projects.
Using the WELL™ Building standard and their own meticulous research, these accredited professionals are able to help create buildings that enhance people’s quality of air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, comfort, and mental health. Working alongside architects, interior designers, engineers, developers, and contractors, Ekkist aspires to “lead the UK housebuilding community in introducing and promoting the standard to residential building design.”
Ori House, Ekkist’s collaboration with London-based Studio McLeod, is a perfect example of a building that promotes total wellness. When it’s completed, Ori House will be clad entirely in larch — a material that’s resistant to rotting. It will also be insulated with a lightweight cement-like material known as hempcrete, which itself is a bio-composite comprised of the woody core of a hemp plant and a lime-based binder. Hempcrete can trap between 110 and 165 kilograms of carbon dioxide per cubic meter of space, thereby optimizing the air quality of the buildings it’s used in.
When completed, Ori House will sell for a base price of $700,000, but the cost could be higher depending on the additional features requested by each buyer.
Projects like Ori House are part of a trend towards healthy architecture, in which non-toxic building materials are seen to be as important to quality of life as things like natural light. In March of 2017, the Mirvac headquarters in Sydney, Australia became the first Gold WELL certified interior space in that country because of its biophilia plan, which keeps employees connected to nature all throughout the office. Silver WELL certified projects include BCCI’s headquarters in San Francisco (because of its air filtration systems and use of healthy building materials), and 21W20, a residential tower in New York City. Biophilic design strategies and a circadian lighting system earned the headquarters of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) a Platinum WELL certification.
As the public continues to immerse itself in the information available on designing buildings for enhanced health, more of these projects will start to appear. This is particularly true for corporate spaces, since most brands want to present themselves as being conscientious of both the environment and human health. As long as its designers are considering all five senses, a project is guaranteed to make you well.