As more shopping centers are pivoting to become lifestyle centers, the public’s expectations of the spaces inside of them is drastically changing. People not only want a unique retail experience nowadays, but they also want spaces that advance the health and wellness of shoppers. In the developed world, people spend an average of 90 percent of their lives inside buildings. As a result, the way buildings influence human health is becoming just as big of a concern as their environmental impact.

Euralille - Lille

All design professionals, including architects, interior designers, engineers, and building owners, have to be mindful of things that could have an adverse impact on human health. For retail spaces that see thousands of visitors a day, the importance of human health is not taken lightly. High air quality standards, smoking bans or restrictions, effective air ventilation and filtration systems, low-chemical cleaning products, moisture management, non-toxic building materials, and biophilia all improve the quality of human health in interior spaces.

City’super - Shanghai

City’super, located in Shanghai, China, is the world’s first WELL certified supermarket, and it’s full of technology that advances the health and wellness of both shoppers and workers.

The trick is to create a space where people can experience all five of their senses at an optimal level. The supermarket’s lighting, for instance, was designed to intensify the goods’ natural colors. For products like fruits and vegetables, this means influencing what customers put in their carts. After all, people are much more likely to buy mangos that look sweet or broccoli that appears lush. The lighting also helps the customer make healthier food choices by highlighting the color of each product.

There are also real-time air quality sensors in place to monitor the air pollutants in the store. Believe it or not, the levels of air pollutants inside of a building can often be higher than those outside of it. With typical sensors, testing must occur over a period of time to collect accurate data. With real-time sensors, however, a store operator can immediately tell if there are any problems in the air that might be affecting people, allowing them to quickly take steps to minimize harm to human health.

Kanyon - Istanbul

Kanyon, a mixed-use health and lifestyle center, is one of Istanbul’s largest multifunctional complexes. It boasts 179 residential units, 157 stores, and all the amenities that you would expect from a contemporary retail space. It attracts 35,000 visitors a day, and it priortizes their health and wellness above all else. When Kanyon was built in May of 2006, water-based paints were used as a surface finish. Paints that contain volatile organic compounds can put occupants at risk of lung cancer, allergic reactions, and other health complications. Carbon dioxide detectors have also been installed throughout the center to monitor the indoor air quality.

Whereas hospitals and clinics treat people after they get sick or to prevent symptoms from worsening, being mindful of what goes into the built environment from the start keeps people from needing treatment in the first place. We spend most of our lives inside buildings, living, working, learning, playing, worshipping, training, and shopping. It’s not just diet and physical activity that determine our health, but also the spaces in which we spend our lives.