Design for people's health and well-being

February 2022 | News

The influence that enclosed spaces have on the health of their inhabitants and how the right design can positively influence their well-being: this was the focus of the second event organised by Actiu for the Madrid Design Festival at its Madrid showroom. The event was moderated by its Board Member and Head of Brand Reputation, Soledat Berbegal, and was attended by the Director of Operations of the International WELL Building Institute, Anne-Marie Aguilar. During the event, Anna Ferrer (partner at the CU4 Arquitectura firm), Bieito Silva (Head of WELL certification at the Instituto Tecnológico de Galicia) Pablo Muñoz (CEO of Evalore) and Jana Fernández discussed the importance of applying healthy habits and inhabiting healthy environments.

COVID has taught us how the places where we live and work have a direct influence on our health”, says Anne-Marie Aguilar.

The WELL Building Institute studies the multiple meanings that health has today and its relationship with issues such as safety, diversity, equality, inclusion, climate change, public health, mental health, resilience, productivity and the commitment of workers to the company.

Through Well, I discovered how spaces can improve health and I began to design houses and environments that take this into consideration”, says Anna Ferrer.

Whose architecture firm tries to help organisations and people achieve their goals through well-being. “We're seeing how living in greyer and less green spaces is making us sick”, she adds, and she believes that a healthy space needs to consider the three dimensions: physiological, cognitive and socio-emotional.

Jana Fernandez also spoke about how a healthy space is one that is in sync with the physiological needs of its inhabitants. “We must give priority to a good night's sleep, but also to how we prepare for the night. It is therefore essential that a space contributes to well-being and doesn't pose a continuous threat.

These specialist in physical, mental and emotional well-being. She also points out how it is possible to create new habits and routines based on her method, which she calls the "7 Ds of Rest" (according to its name in Spanish): Decision, Discipline, Diet & Sport, Sleep, Slow Down, Disconnect and Enjoy.

It is important that when we talk about what we do, we do so from the perspective of health and well-being, but also from the perspective of profit", says Pablo Muñoz, CEO of Evalore, who argues that people, the planet and profitability are three concepts that must go hand in hand in order to contribute to sustainable development that can last over time. 

We have tools to create healthy spaces that we must use and that, when properly implemented, increase the profitability of the investor and the user,” adds the architect, who points to the risk of not doing so and creating buildings that are already obsolete from day one.

In today's era of the hybrid and the flexible, the space can serve as a significant driver of loyalty. “There are a lot of costs derived from an unsuitable space. That which may involve a higher initial expense could generate a significant return in the medium term,” says Bieito Silva, for whom flexibility and adaptability of uses are aspects which people value hugely, quite apart from their salaries.

Technology, understood as a tool that can help to nurture these spaces and their inhabitants, is crucial to this transformation, both in order to measure parameters such as air quality, acoustics, lighting, personal activity and food, and to interpret them. “At Actiu, we have launched Gaia, an IoT platform that measures parameters and where the important thing is not the sensor, but the data and the decisions that are made with it, as well as knowing how to communicate them,” says Soledat Berbegal, who highlights how communication is an essential tool when it comes to achieving well-being and awareness among workers.

The event held in the Actiu showroom coincided with the third edition of Wellference in Madrid, organised by the Instituto Tecnológico de Galicia (ITG) and considered the largest WELL event in Spain. At the conference, which was presented by Bieto Silva with the participation of Anne-Marie Aguilar, expert professionals looked at how health and sustainability are two concepts that are strongly linked. 

With buildings as catalysts for health, the round table moderated by Valeria Peredo, "Building management in terms of health", was attended by the Board Member and Head of Brand Reputation at Actiu, Soledat Berbegal; the Consulting Manager at Deerns, Gala Fombella; the Wellbeing Strategy Manager at CBRE, Patricia Fuentes, and the Head of Digital Energy Specialist Prescription Manager Centre - South at Schneider Electric, Javier Portabella.

The keys to well-being, both at a spatial level and stemming from management and maintenance policies, and how sustainability, efficiency and profitability are three concepts that are strongly connected, were some of the matters discussed at an event that highlighted Well's ability to contribute the necessary tools to improve the health of people and spaces, and how technology allows certain parameters to be measured and communicated transparently and in real time to improve working conditions.

A second round table, on "Healthy products and innovations in construction", closed the event, which was also attended by Elsa Punset, who highlighted the need to learn to live in a more sustainable fashion, in a time with enormous and very fast systemic changes, at personal, social and occupational levels, and where people's health is closely related to that of the planet. For this well-known writer and communicator, “the power that the consumer has today is extraordinary and both companies and citizens can become the main catalyst for change on the path towards that much-needed and highly sought-after physical and emotional well-being.”

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