While architects and urban planners have focused on pleasing design and innovation for many years, they now focus on improving the public health through design, as well. This slow-growing innovation has taken root throughout design, says Robert Ivy, CEO of the American Institute of Architects.
Design now focuses on elements that promote health, provide green space and feature green building materials. Robert Ivy also noted the developing commonality of interdisciplinary collaboration.
Designing for Health
The public health design trend has been learn as you go. From the spread of the bubonic plague centuries ago in Europe, we learned the importance of spacing buildings apart and regularly disposing of refuse by use of landfills, incineration or composting. From the early developments in New York City, we learned that lack of green space contributes to the development of substandard housing. The design and implementation of Central Park mitigated the housing issue and a once maligned area of the city now features some of its most sought after real estate. Designed to improve public health, it spawned other uses, including recreational and tourism. Architects have building design elements at their disposal, too, to provide a healthier environment. For instance, they can design with stairs to encourage exercise. They interweave access to clean water, fresh air and sunlight into design.
During September’s Clinton Global Initiative’s Annual Meeting, the AIA unveiled a ten-year plan focused on urban design that promotes:
- the public health,
- natural disaster resiliency.
As a part of the plan, the AIA will provide grant funding to universities; contribute to developing a community plan in a major international city; and create an architecture-related app via hackathon.
Green building materials garner the main current focus of construction trends. Ivy say the mantra in building design has long been to promote “health, safety, and welfare.” The change in the last few years has been to morph welfare into well-being.
The use of green building materials enables architects and construction crews to move from buildings that maintain human health to those that improve human health. Green materials improve energy-efficiency, better block or remove allergens from the air and use sustainable materials.
Ivy points out that the field of architecture has long ignored impact monitoring, an area that other fields integrated early on. By monitoring productivity in buildings, one can determine which building designs best promote it. Owners can use renovation to rectify poor design and improve the well-being of those using the structure.
By collaborating from design to construction to building monitoring and maintenance, architects can improve the impact of their designs on the built environment and the human environment. The AIA’s Robert Ivy leads by example by instituting a decade long plan to foster change in the development environment.
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