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The New Age of Wellness

From office buildings, hospitals, parks and retreats, wellness is becoming multi-dimensional. Once the outlier of architectural vernaculars, we now look to wellness as a core design narrative, informing the way we build, design and interact with all kinds of spaces and places.



BY Indesignlive

June 24th, 2020


Wellness, as a movement, has continued to grow and develop through the last few decades. Once considered the realm of alternative medicines, wellness has well and truly hit the mainstream, as a defining movement that seeks to rediscover and celebrate the individual in a world that otherwise views us en masse. As a swing against the corporate and the austere, wellness is becoming increasingly present across architectural verticals, softening workplace design, centring residential spaces and informing hospitality venues. However, to truly see where this movement will take us, we look to those who put wellness at their core, spaces of health, retreat and education that are pioneering in their approach to wellbeing.

Holism Retreat, Studio Tate

These spaces can be seen in the INDE.Awards 2020 shortlist for The Wellness Space, where firms across the Region showcase the latest in spaces designed for care. A long-time leader in the sector, category sponsor Zip Water have a unique insight into the nuances of wellness and have been blown away by the calibre of this year’s shortlist. “What we’re seeing is an equalising of wellness spaces,” says Zip Water Marketing Manager Gloria Young. “Where there has historically been juxtaposition between the softness of retreat spaces and the detached neutralism of clinics and hospitals, we’re now witnessing each end of the spectrum be informed by the other. Hospitals and places of medicine are softening, informed by architecture that considers the patient as well as the practice, while parks, retreats and alternative spaces are considering the role of technology and cutting-edge design.”

RISE at 101 Collins Street, Gray Pucksand

Indeed, RISE at 101 Collins Street sees wellness go commercial, with a state-of-the-art amenity integrated into one of Melbourne’s premium office buildings. Designed by Gray Pucksand, the facility includes spaces for exercise and recovery, informing a culture of wellbeing for the building’s tenants. Chifley Lifestyle, also by Gray Pucksand, echoes a similar sentiment, providing a place for respite within Sydney’s Chifley Towers. The emphasis here is less on activity and more on relaxation, providing a sumptuous gateway between the offices and carpark which allows employees to decompress and de-stress as they navigate to and from work.

Chifley Lifestyle, Gray Pucksand

These projects are indicative of a synchronisation of two verticals, where the prominence and importance of physical and emotional wellbeing is informing office design, creating a new breed of workplace that understands productivity and wellbeing as overlapping sensations. Gloria Young understands the nuances of this symbiosis, as Zip products have long been putting hydration solutions at the centre of workplace design. “Zip HydroTap provides instant boiling, chilled and sparkling water, ensuring hydration becomes a priority in the workplace,” says Young. “Features such as these can start to spark a transition into a more considerate built environment, as they put employee and user wellbeing at the centre of design narratives.”

EKH Children Hospital, IF (Integrated Field) with S:CSB

We’re seeing a similar trend emerge in healthcare design, with hospitals and medical spaces putting an increasing emphasis on how patients and visitors feel. In Thailand, EKH Children Hospital provides a roadmap for children-centric architecture, with a space that endeavours to make medical care a less frightening experience for young patients. The firm behind then space, Integrated Field (IF), adopted a children’s mindset as they approached the project, ensuring the entire hospital was customised for a child’s experience, instead of being an adult’s hospital shrunk down to size. From a giant slide in the entrance hall to bespoke, glow-in-the-dark constellations above the beds, every element considers the size, behaviour and needs of a child, well and truly putting their wellbeing at the fore.

ActiveSG Park @ Jurong Lake Gardens, Zarch Collaboratives

On the other end of the spectrum, ActiveSG Park takes a traditional parkland environment and introduces state-of-the-art sporting facilities to create a functional natural retreat in the midst of Singapore’s dense metropolis. Connecting the city’s Jurong Lake Gardens with nearby residential estates, ActiveSG Park encourages a decidedly modern vision of a healthy lifestyle, with fitness and swimming facilities set amongst a lush landscape. Architects Arch Collaboratives have achieved a fusion of exercise and nature, inverting the typical typology of a sports complex to present residents with new perspectives on health and recreation. More than this, the project highlights new opportunities for wellness spaces, where biophilia, technology and considered design can unite to enhance the way we all experience private and public spaces.