The Relationship Between Architecture and Human Well Being


03 Oct 2016 21 Sep 2017

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The issue of today society on the relationship of architecture and built environment towards human well being is that the architect which is also the builder and the designer often neglected some proper considerations when they designed too egoistically until they have forgotten that architecture and its built environment has the direct impact on human well being.

Too often the designer forgets that they design for human to stay in. It is after all for the people. It is understandable that aesthetic is always something impressive but functionality and comfort is even imperative than the look of the building.

A research by Dr. Nancy Wells, an environmental psychologist in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University demonstrates natural and built environments can actually affect people’s mental and physical well-being throughout their lives. This implies that architecture actually does affect human mental health condition, not only the building itself but also the design of the ambiance.

In order to produce a design that links architecture and its built environment towards the human well being in a positive outcome, the designer would have to be clear of certain statement such as the look of the building space and how it feels like to design a space that promote psychological and social well-being. Besides that, how would the design and the built environment affect the senses, the emotions, and the mind of the end user? How would it affect behavioral patterns and sense of community?

There is this one very common example to look into but not much of us actually take note of it; for research purposes, before we go into designing a real building, it is useful to look at some other useful examples such as ‘zoos’. Why is zoo stated here? In the past few decades, zoo design has gone through a radical transformation. Cages which is used to lock up animals in the zoo have been replaced by natural habitats and geographic clustering of animals. In some places, the animals are totally free running whilst the visitors are enclosed in buses or trains moving along the zoo. As a direct result, animals now exist in mixed species which portray their lives in natural landscapes. And, as in nature, the animals have much stronger self control over their behavior. They can either be on view or out of sight. They forage, play, rest, mate, and act like normal animals.

The question for us to ponder now is the reason behind this transformation in philosophy and design? A key factor was concern over the animals' psychological and social well-being. We all know that zoos keep animals alive, but the thing is they do not make them flourish. Caged animals often acted very rebellious and have neurotic behaviors such as pacing, repetitive motions, aggression, and withdrawal. In one well known issue, an animal psychologist expert was employed to do a research on a polar bear that swim for the entire day in endless in its small pool. Then the zoo keeper found out that this was apparently not the normal behavior of a polar. After few days of detail observation, the animal psychologist expert decided to do a diagnosis. The bear was confirmed to be bored. To fix for this unfortunate situation, the zoo added facilities and toys for the bear to encourage it to explore more and play.

There is another case study done by University Putra Malaysia research student to test the human design on animal before testing it on human itself. Chickens are brought from poultry and placed in a terrace house designed for human and observe how they can survive well in there. Results showed that the chickens get weaker and soon died in the terrace house. We never know that our design do not even fit for animal, even animals like chicken could not live in a house designed for human, what more to say we are the ones that are suppose in stay inside. This can be clearly seen that the modern architecture field is sometimes conquered by certain group of people such the developer that are lack of awareness towards human need but instead most of them only look at the end profit they can get from the residential project.


From the above mentioned examples, there are lessons that we can learn that afterwards can be applied to building design. To produce a building design, we ought to look beyond survival to well-being. We can even build on "primitive preferences" and emphasizes more on connections to nature. Besides that, making health an explicit component of planning is critical.

Apart from architecture design, built environment also has profound effects on public-health. Planning decisions made can affect housing design, parks, location of stores and schools, as well as factors such as traffic density and air and water quality. These characteristics, in turn, affect the well being which is the physical and psychological health for people of all ages.

Constant change of environment has been the backdrop to our lives. But now the nature of change has changed. The changes brought about acquire us to rethink almost everything, including architecture and the design of the larger built environment. The preliminary predications are the environmental crisis afflicting the severely overstretched systems of our earth. These encompass the air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, sound pollution and etc.

Besides that, the degradation and loss of topsoil and the diminishment of biodiversity to the point where the mass extinction of species appears inevitable are among the problems caused by mass unhealthy design architecture. And, most imperatively the challenge of all is the global warming with all its adverse consequences to be bear by the end users. The obvious alteration of global warming includes the change in weather pattern such as more extreme weather, climate- induced migration of humans and other species.

The drastic change of weather and environment as well as global warming has direct impact on human lives so when architecture caused the deterioration of environment, it means it also deteriorate human lives because we cannot be tear apart from our living environment. These are the problems partly contributed by the architects, so it is time for the architect to ponder and produce design that is healthy to both the environment and the people.

First and foremost, it is necessary to take stock of the current architectural scene, which in many ways is vigorous, diverse and feverish. However, until less than a century ago the architects seemed to be fine in designing buildings people are fond of and that aggregated into satisfactory urban fabric, any candid assessment must accept that piece, but as time passes, what is being built today has become pretty depress because it does too little to cure the fragmentation of our cities wrought over the last century. As architect, we need to be aware of what is happening to the world and deter problems ranging from the environmental crisis to housing the masses flooding into the cities of the developing world.


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