Space is powerful. Spaces impact how you relate to the context and to the people around you. It can either invigorate you or oppress you.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, committed to it or not, architecture has an impact on the people that interact with our designs. As the world steers toward a more urban environment—populations rise and statistics show that people spend an average of 90 percent of their lives inside buildings—we cannot ignore that architects have some of the greatest scalable impact: impact on individuals, communities, society, and the environment. We have a unique set of tools and training to find problems and orchestrate solutions. We intuitively approach the world with innovation and creativity while sifting through context, conditions, knowledge acquisition, wants, and needs. Designers should take ownership of these valuable characteristics and the vital role that architecture plays in the future of civilization and human growth. Architecture is a catalyst for impact.
Designing a healthy building requires holistic thinking. It is not just the physical and mental health impact of the design, but also the environmental, educational, and economic impacts. Architecture has direct and indirect catalytic relations with users that go beyond the building walls. Everything from what type of wood we use to the location of windows has consequences that reach further than formal aesthetics. Some of these consequences and reactions are showcased in the design of a daycare for people with dementia and early childhood education in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe.
Healthy building means healthy people.