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Column: Architecture is a means of health and wellness |  Imam Valley

Column: Architecture is a means of health and wellness | Imam Valley

Today, an architect’s reputation often rests on the innovation of the art forms he designs, such as extravagant structures or high-rise buildings. However, this should not be the only criterion for evaluating them. Why do the best architects, those who design beautiful and innovative buildings, so often forget about humanity?

This thought leads me to wonder what we can do with all that creative talent. A few years ago, in New York, at the beginning of my career, I found a very interesting book in a Barnes & Noble bookstore. At that time, we did not have access to books or audiobooks online. It was titled “Therapeutic Architecture”, written by Jenny Donovan and Stephen J. Kendall, and explored the relationship between architecture and health, analyzing how the design of physical environments can impact people’s well-being and healing.

The book addresses different aspects of architecture that can have an impact on health, such as natural light, ventilation, green spaces, accessibility and privacy. It also explores how the design of hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare environments can promote healing and well-being in patients.

Furthermore, it highlights the importance of user participation in the design of healthcare spaces, and how architecture can contribute to creating welcoming and calming environments.

Personally, I was surprised by the connection. I began to understand that buildings can negatively impact people’s health. I shared the contents of the book with a friend, a prominent doctor in Miami, and he confirmed this fact. He stated that it is common for people to enter the hospital due to an infection and be discharged with a disease acquired in the same place.

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Although modern hospitals are functional, with sufficient spaces and good operational cycle, on an aesthetic level they leave much to be desired.

Where are the architects who can help us build and design hospitals that improve patients’ moods and prevent infections?

Imagine if hospital corridors could open up to the landscape, allowing patients to enjoy it. If air conditioning systems are vectors of disease, why not build hospitals that are naturally ventilated by beautiful nature, thus reducing damage to the environment? Also, what if every patient could enjoy the view of nature through the window of their room? It has been scientifically proven that connecting with nature can significantly improve patients’ health.

Architecture is much more than just designing buildings. I have learned that architects can be transformational catalysts for change.

Buildings are not just expressive sculptures, they also reflect our personalities and what inspires us as a society. Ultimately, architecture should satisfy human needs and contribute to their health and well-being.

Yermes Peña is an architect specializing in smart and sustainable cities. IG @yermyspena www.yermyspena.com