Happy by Design
eBook - ePub

Happy by Design

A Guide to Architecture and Mental Wellbeing

Ben Channon

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  1. 224 pages
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eBook - ePub

Happy by Design

A Guide to Architecture and Mental Wellbeing

Ben Channon

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About This Book

Can good design truly make us happier? Given that we spend over 80% of our time in buildings, shouldn't we have a better understanding of how they make us feel? This book explores the ways in which buildings, spaces and cities affect our moods. It reveals how architecture and design can make us happy and support mental health and explains how poor design can have the opposite effect.

Presented through a series of easy-to-understand design tips and accompanied by beautiful diagrams and illustrations, Happy by Design is a fantastic resource for architects, designers and students, or for anybody who would like to better understand the relationship between buildings and happiness.

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Information

Year
2019
ISBN
9781000726725

1: Light

Natural daylight is one of the most fundamental human needs. Its significant impact on human happiness and on our mental wellbeing is well proven through research and data. For example, staff in offices with no natural daylight have been shown to sleep on average 46 minutes less than their light-receiving counterparts.
Daylight affects a number of our basic systems, such as the circadian rhythm – our biological clock – which regulates the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. These systems are sensitively balanced, and even small changes in the amount of daylight we receive can have substantial impacts on our mood, productivity and overall wellbeing. Although artificial lighting is becoming more advanced in how it can mimic the effects of daylight, it is still no substitute for the real thing.
When designing buildings, it is therefore extremely important to consider how you can improve both the quantity and quality of daylight, internally and within landscaping. However, you must also be aware of a range of other factors such as heat gains (or losses) from glazing, and views into and out of buildings.

Orient buildings sensitively

To maximise solar gains, windows should be orientated within 15° of true south
To maximise solar gains, windows should be orientated within 15° of true south
When thinking about the form and layout of a building, daylight should be considered at an early stage. A building’s massing and orientation is integral to how much light each space will receive, and which areas will be overshadowed.
While southern-facing rooms will receive the most sunlight (in the northern hemisphere), consider also the impact and qualities of light at certain times of the day. If a space would benefit more from morning light then provide windows facing eastwards.
North-facing windows will receive the least sunlight and therefore spaces that only have a northerly aspect should generally be avoided if possible. Spaces such as libraries or galleries are the exception, where direct sunlight can often damage books or displays.

Consider shadows

Aim for an angle of greater than 25° as a rule of thumb for good daylighting
Aim for an angle of greater than 25° as a rule of thumb for good daylighting
One of the earliest decisions about a new building is where to locate it on the site. When undertaking this process, remember the importance of shadows. These can dramatically reduce the amount of daylight and sunlight that key spaces will receive. Consider shadows that might be cast by:
  • Neighbouring buildings
  • Nearby trees or foliage
  • Other elements of your own building

Be selective about window sizes

Windows on upper storeys get more daylight, as a result of the increased amount of visible sky
Windows on upper storeys get more daylight, as a result of the increased amount of visible sky
An obvious way to increase the amount of daylight and sunlight within a space is to increase the amount of glazing. However, glass is an expensive material, and also brings with it a range of other issues such as solar gains or thermal losses.
The size of windows should therefore be considered carefully. If budget is an important constraint, decide which spaces will benefit most from the extra daylight they will receive from larger windows.
Remember also that windows higher up a building will receive more daylight than windows on lower floors, as more open sky is visible. This is why many buildings have smaller windows on higher floors.

Avoid deep plans

Vitruvius recommended that maximum room depth should be four to five times the height of windows, although modern rules of thumb generally suggest a factor between 2 and 2.5
Vitruvius recommended that maximum room depth should be four to five times the height of windows, although modern rules of thumb generally suggest a factor between 2 and 2.5
It is often desirable to design a building to have rooms with a greater depth, known as a ‘deep plan’. This can be used to increase the internal area of a building, or to reduce the ratio of facade to floor area and therefore reduce construction costs.
However, by designing in this way you are at risk of creating dark areas at the back of rooms that will rely on artificial lighting. This is not only worse from an energy perspective but will also result in unhappier building occupants. To avoid this, make rooms either shallower or taller.

Use high-level windows to combine light and privacy

Spaces with no natural daylight provide us with no reference to the outside world, and can be disorienting and even distressing
Spaces with no natural daylight provide us with no reference to the outside world, and can be disorienting and even distressing
Although increased daylight in buildings is shown to improve people’s mental wellbeing, it is not always desirable to have large windows looking onto private spaces such as bathrooms or changing rooms. As a result, these often end up with no natural daylight at all, giving no view of the sky or reference for our body clocks.
In these instances, a compromise can be easily reached, however. Where possible, try to provide high-level windows that don’t permit views in from neighbouring properties. If this is not possible, consider larger windows with opaque glazing, which can even be post-applied to existing windows in the form of a film.

Use rooflights shrewdly

Rooflights can bring in up to twice as much daylight as vertical windows
Rooflights can bring in up to twice as much daylight as vertical windows
While rooflights should never be viewed as a direct substitute for traditional windows, they do have certain advantages.
They can be an extremely effective way of bringing light into spaces with limited opportunities for normal windows, and views of the sky can provide a reference to the time of day and the weather. They can also be used to great effect to pick out key parts of a space or to create a powerful sense of drama, as shown in Vector Architects’ Seashore Chapel, opposite.
However, as will be discussed later in this book, views outwards offer many other benefits in terms of mental wellbeing. As a result, traditional windows are usually preferable.

Don't overlook artificial light

Indirect light has been shown to improve productivity and alertness
Indirect light has been shown to improve productivity and alertness
Although it is important for designers to get the natural daylight correct, there are also happiness and wellbeing benefits to be gained from good use of artificial lighting.
Danish lighting designer Poul Henningsen devoted much of his career to designing glare-free and uniform illumination, which has been shown to reduce headaches and improve productivity. Studies suggest that emotions are experienced more intensely un...

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