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July 27, 2020

Rethinking health and well-being in architectural design as a mindful individual and social movement

The current societal shifts in health, culture and politics positively urges us to rethink health and well-being in design and architecture. With the current lock-down situation, we are unable to physically travel between the places of work and home but have to constantly shift our mental state of ‘resting’ to the state of ‘working’. We are neither able to gather physically as a community but the use of virtual technology and social media has brought us closer to each other’s homes and spaces of living.

Lack of enough movement could be the first concern for many of us, particularly if we live in a relatively small sized apartment. This urges us to rethink the concept of design and ‘function’ and our everyday rituals. We are now spending majority of our times at home and squeezing in other activities such as work, exercise, leisure, relaxation, etc. So, the conventional spaces of living room, kitchen study room, bedroom, etc. and their spatial relationship should also be rethought to be able to accommodate these newly introduced activities. This is while the integrity of the aura of these ‘functions’ should be mindfully maintained. We also now have the opportunity to include different cultural rituals of living, working, cooking and eating in the re-configuring the planning of our buildings.

Design, movement and mindfulness have been the focus of my architecture practice and research in the last couple of years. Mindfulness is the awareness of the present moment, the overall state of being; the state of the mind and the physical body.  I suggest that this concept could be a rich guide in rethinking how the form and the planning of the building can accommodate a new spectrum of activities through the lens of movement. Movement in the form of human spatial embodiment is an important pillar of mindfulness, which connects the mind and body and regulates between the two. It is also the centre of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program by inducing a state of awareness.

Lack of enough movement is a main concern for many of us, particularly if we live in a relatively small sized apartment and have to work in front of out computers for long hours. Movement and its different forms is in the centre of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) to induce a state of awareness (Mills and Allan 2000). Traditionally, movement is often considered solely as a formal attribute of the building or reduced to the notion of circulation and physical access.

At M00-tion studio, I aim for a mindful approach based on Motion and Emotion. We use design elements that could create horizontal and vertical motion in the space (e.g.’ staircases and ramps). For example making the most of vertical spaces in the ramps and staircases as transitional living spaces between work and rest and encourage vertical movement. Hence, the form becomes a spatial possibility for increasing people’s awareness about the state of physical and mental well-being.

We also aim to maintain the ‘feel’ or the emotion of different spaces. Using technologies such as AR/VR helps us to test out bodily movement and people’s feelings in various design configurations. This has led to the design of sustainable and creative spaces, focusing on the immaterial experience of space rather than the material architecture. M00-tion studio is also a collective cultural and social movement for us. We highly respect the importance of cultural specificity and exclusivity in design reconfiguration of homes, work spaces and heritage design interventions.