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« The Importance of Healthful Materials in Design for People | Main | What Does Winning the Expo in 2020 Mean for Dubai and the UAE? »

Healthy by Design: How Design Impacts Well-Being

The Alexander Hotel. Image © Gensler

On a typical day most Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. Yet even from inside enclosed walls, humans act as giant filters for our environments. From the water we drink to the air we breathe, our environment impacts how we feel, work and live. Is the air quality poor? Is there enough daylight? And is there any connection to nature?

Although humans have evolved to become indoor creatures, we remain hardwired to work better in daylight. We have an inherent need, called biophilia, to stay connected with nature. And when our surroundings incorporate elements from the natural world, we see an immediate and positive impact on people and productivity.

Today, more than ever, people are taking a greater role in managing their own health. Scrutinizing the quality of your own environment from the perspective of how it fosters wellbeing is a novel consideration for many, but it is a very important topic. It underlies the whole notion of sustainable design.

As technology transforms the way we navigate and evaluate the world around us, I ask: can the entire built environment be seen through the lens of its success (or failure) in promoting healthy behaviors? Support my pitch to present this topic at SXSW Eco 2014 by voting for my panel here.

Rives Taylor is an architect and educator in the wilds of Texas. As principal at Gensler, a leading global design firm, he helps lead the firm’s sustainable design practice. In his spare time, he lectures as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston and serves as a visiting Professor at Rice University, teaching architecture and sustainable design. Currently he’s working with the City of Houston and other cities to develop more livable neighborhoods and sustainable water management strategies that support growing urban areas. Contact him at rives_taylor@gensler.com.

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