Designing for Wellness — Not a Trend, A Necessity


Exploring, experimenting with, and trying out trends is one of the most interesting aspects of designing interiors.

What shouldn’t be a trend, however, is designing for the wellness of the human beings occupying your designs. This kind of design should be a necessity.

Over the past couple of years, more and more research has been done to establish wellness as one of the priorities of your next project. In fact, in his recent story for us, François Lévy, AIAA, an architect based in Austin, Texas who's design principles focus on the occupants,  said, “While the lines we draw and volumes we model and render are all about the materials that buildings are made of, ultimately the function and purpose of a building is to be inhabited by people.”

Read on to learn about the movement towards well-being in the AEC industry.

Designing for Wellness — The Principles

According to, “By designing spaces with a focus on their impact on health, wellness architecture is capable of delivering buildings that host this multidimensional definition.” 

The publication goes on to say that although wellness design has only recently grown in popularity, its principles align with design practices you’re already familiar with. Air flow, natural light, and intentionally chosen materials are all important, for example.

Air Flow

One of our 2023 signature projects, BERN 131, which was designed by Atelier 5 Architects & Planners LTD., uses a glass atrium to let in natural light and manage the temperature and quality of air. 

When speaking of how the building manages airflow sustainably, partner Florian Lünstedt said, “The atrium in the center of the building is used as an exhaust plenum. This means less energy is needed for air transportation. The whole mass of the building is used to store heat and cold.”

Natural Lighting

Another important principle of healthier interiors is the use of natural lighting. In fact, according to, natural light can do the following: 

☀️ Boost vitamin D

🍂 Ward off seasonal depression

😴 Improve sleep

💡 Reduce health risks of florescent lighting

A Vectorworks customer who’s harnessed the benefits of natural light is Chad Hamilton of Hamilton + Aitken Architecture.

In a story we covered about how the designer bridges education and sustainability, Hamilton talks in great detail about lighting, because good lighting — which concerns a lot more than just expelling darkness, let’s be clear — transforms a space into something much more positive. Like he said: “It’s been demonstrated that students learn better and faster in spaces with natural daylighting, so we like to bring as much natural daylighting as we can.”

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Image courtesy of Hamilton + Aitken Architecture.


The last principle of wellness design we’ll be covering in this post is the attention you pay towards the materials you’re using. You may be worried about using healthier materials, since they tend to be a bit more expensive. However, planning ahead and presenting the benefits to both the occupant's and the planet’s wellbeing can help you get client buy-in.

For example, non-toxic sealants, finishes, and mortars are great considerations. You can use additive-free grouts, additive-free thinsets, zero VOC paints, and zero VOC sealants, and more!

Ultimately, know that there are plenty of high-quality materials you can use in your project, just be specific when documenting and requesting the materials you want contractors to use!

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Image courtesy of Tank.

Organic materials like plants and flowers can also have a tremendous impact, just take a look at biophilic design, as seen above. Biophilic design is a beautiful marriage between form and function. In factthe practice may even reduce a patient's recovery time in a health care facility!

To learn more about the impact materials can have on a space and its occupants, check out the story below:

RELATED: “How to Design Spaces That Are Better for Occupants & the Planet”

Designing for Wellness — A Healthy Building Movement

As healthier living spaces have grown in popularity, so too have the certifications and accreditations surrounding the design philosophy.

Leading the way are the WELL building standards, which recognize the fact that wellness design is much more than just brick-and-mortar solutions — wellness design is about people. In fact, the WELL building standards include measures to promote well-being of the body and mind.

WELL certifications, according to their site, “Demonstrate your commitment to well-being by earning the highest pinnacle of health achievement” across 11 categories in. These 11 categories include:

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Nourishment
  4. Light
  5. Movement
  6. Thermal Comfort
  7. Sound
  8. Materials
  9. Mind
  10. Community
  11. Innovation

You’ll notice that WELL’s list acknowledges some of the principles we discussed above, but it goes even further, taking a detailed look at how things like communal spaces can positively impact people’s lives.

And we’re not the only ones who love the WELL certifications — our friends at Dwyer Architectural are leading the discussion within the healthcare community. Click here to read their blog!

Curious About Sustainable Design in Vectorworks Software?

Vectorworks software is a powerhouse when it comes to meeting sustainable design goals. In the post linked below, you'll discover the top 3 features to use for water conservation and find additional resources to aid your sustainable design journey.


Topics: Buildings


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