Multi-Family: Health & Wellness in Multi-Family and Mixed-Use Developments
"The landscape affects the human psyche - the soul, the body, and the innermost contemplations - like music. Every time you feel nature deeper you resonate better with her, finding new elements of balance and freedom."
-Nikos Kazantzakis | The Landscape of Health and Wellness in Multi-Family Communities
Landscape Wellness, Renewed
The technological advances we've made over the last decade continue to change the way we operate, evolve our workplace environments, and lead to more digitally integrated lives. We work more freely, remotely, and from our own homes. As this becomes more commonplace, our homes in turn also begin to take on a new shape that allows for a more infused live-work lifestyle.
But as we further reduce the distance between ourselves and the grid, blur the lines between work and respite, what happens to our physical and mental health? Where do we spend the remaining time in our day to help alleviate stress, increase our overall happiness, and ensure we take care of our body and mind?
Our homes can be controlled with our voice, Netflix can be cast at the push of the button, Amazon and GrubHub can deliver more than the base necessities direct to our door. We never have to leave. And pre-pandemic these services had already started to alter the way we chose to spend our time. The comfort of home has never been more convenient.
Don't get us wrong - these advancements in commerce and entertainment are incredible, it's beneficial, as it pushes the boundaries of where we are capable of exerting our limited energy. However, at the same time does it not make it all too easy to fall complacent to these luxuries such that they feel as though they're essentials?
When we think of health and wellness we often think gyms, fitness, nutrition… we think greenspace, serenity, nature, water, air, and sky. We may also simply gloss over the topic because it's trendy without being glamorous, sellable not showy. But, the more the conveniences of our daily life, perhaps subliminally, confine us to the boxes we call home, the more critical it will be to provide an engaging means to promote our personal and social health and wellness.
This area of expertise is increasing, the demand is rising, as younger and older generations alike become more cognizant and aware of not only the food we eat, but where it comes from; of the impact, not only exercise has on our body, but also the environment in which we choose to engage in; of the importance of social interaction for cognitive development, critical thinking, and stress relief.
Where do we find these spaces, these activities, and enough diversity to accommodate our diverse communities?
As policy and regulation drive up the cost of multi-family and mixed-use housing developments in our urban growth centers, the FARs (Floor Area Ratio) and leasable square footages follow suit, often striving to maximize them simply to get the project to pencil. This ends up pushing building walls to the property lines, setbacks, or easement limits, taking away socially valuable space within the fabric of the community. It tends to cram more and more efficient amenity spaces, similar to our living units, within the confines of our built environment. And what's left is a representation of our perceived value of health and wellness in our communities… we're left with an under-appreciated, under-valued exterior space that's often over-programmed to imitate our convenient interior conditions.
Imagine the possibilities if we could free up space to properly account for our health and wellness, if we integrated landscaped trails within our community that touched the lobby doors, if we could open our gym facilities to flexible lawn areas for yoga or training, if we took pride in caring for shared gardens that encouraged local food production and social engagement, and if we simply appreciated the benefits our trees and adapted plant material offer both to us and to our environment, from shade and heat reduction to cleaner air quality.
Medical care facilities and hospitals have already been expanding these offerings throughout their new developments and renovations as studies continue being released that illustrate the importance of green space, gardening, and social interaction in health recovery.
Why do we tend to forget this in our daily living conditions, especially in our urban multi-family communities where we need access to the most? If the benefits of these landscape spaces and concepts apply to those who are already ailing, would they not also offer natural preventative care?
As our populations increase and density rises, as our digital connectivity expands and "life on the go" leads to additional "life at home," we'll need to have a renewed sense of pride and value in our exterior environments, our shared landscapes, and the public park space needed to weave through the fabric of our communities. By investing in these spaces we are investing not only in our health, but in our continued livelihood and happiness which will pay for itself over and again by creating a value more people will find worth investing in.
At LandStudio360, we are grateful to have a diverse group of people that allow us to use each team member’s experience and network to grow. The unique circumstances of working remotely while remaining connected have encouraged our team to think strategically and expand our knowledge of the industry and possible ways to re-think exterior spaces going forward.
We're here to help assess design challenges and provide creative solutions for this constantly changing world. Connect with us and let's get working together.