18 Jan 2017   webgap

Architecture that’s built to heal

A great deal of architectural talent and energy goes into designing iconic, sculptural buildings, which can add to the aesthetic identity of a place. Unfortunately, these designs are often far removed from most people’s daily life and the issues which concern them – such as their health.

Many of the structures designed for health purposes, especially in developing countries are achieving the exact opposite. Patients visiting badly-designed hospitals have been said to return home with new, more virulent infections – or not at all. Healing either delayed, or incomplete – all due, in part, to the architectural failings of the buildings.

Public health practitioners have since began to challenge architects to come up with building designs that will actually help people heal. Hospitals where patients feel better just by being there, with great natural ventilation and serene views through their windows. The use of natural light and airflow is said to help reduce the hospitals’ carbon footprint as well, contributing to a healthier environment for all.

In this way, the boundaries of healing architecture are being pushed and architects are now designing buildings that can heal in a wider sense. Schools are being created as safe, welcoming havens of learning in both structure and interior design. Similarly, community centres are being designed as protected spaces where disparate groups can come together.

The initial focus was on the environmental footprint of healing architecture. However, this soon grew to include consideration of the human handprint of each building. This emerged thanks to the “lo-fab” or “local fabrication” movement – a recognition that local people are best placed to contribute ideas and skills in the creation of locally-appropriate structures. In other words, the process of construction itself became a form of healing.

By hiring locally, architects make use of the skills of carpenters and stonemasons. Local labour replaces machinery, fostering community spirit in places which have undergone acute social trauma, such as Rwanda.

Sourcing building materials locally reduces transport costs and in many cases, permits the re-purposing of discarded materials. Training is also a key component of healing architecture – passing on skills to secure future livelihoods. People living with chronic medical conditions often feel robbed of their dignity, while the reverse is true when they are healed. This is the final pillar of the “lo-fab” approach – that healing architecture must involve investing in dignity.

Healing architecture – and its creation – can help close the wounds of entire societies, especially when past injustices are openly addressed and commemorated through the design and construction of memorials.

The pioneers of healing architecture believed that building design could be a transformative engine for change, rather than merely the creation of taller or more sinuous sculptures. Additionally, healing architecture can function as a statement of society’s aspirations and a genuine intent to heal not just individual patients, but entire communities as well.

25 Jan 2017   webgap

How One Design Studio Is Keeping Traditional Craft Techniques Alive

Wallpaper has sadly become an aphorism for anything visual that’s simply there in the background and barely given any attention – a little like television. The incredible collections from New York’s Calico Wallpaper look set to change that dismissive perception and – perhaps more importantly – breathe new light into traditional craft techniques in interior design that have been in danger of fading and peeling away.Calico Wallpaper’s designs are not afraid to embrace modern technology. Their ‘Inverted Spaces’ collection drew on satellite imagery from NASA, while other collection ...

01 Feb 2017   webgap

More than just a smiley face

More imaginative teenagers – and adults – can now write entire messages in emojis. These little graphic designs are changing the way we talk to each other in every sphere of our lives. An emoji movie is in the works and we live in a world where adding a smiley face to the end of a message makes anything preceding it acceptable as a joke. Other emojis are still prone to misinterpretation though, especially by new users: “No, Mom, that’s not a happy scoop of chocolate ice cream!”.Emojis can trace their design roots to the creation of the original yellow smiley face back in the 1960s. T ...

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