Do buildings have the power to heal us? Responding to increasing concern for the effects of design and architecture on our overall wellbeing, Happy by Design: A Guide to Architecture and Mental Wellbeing examines how we can build happier, healthier spaces, from the ground up.
“We spend 80% of time indoors,” says author Ben Channon, “but we give little thought to how bricks and mortar impact us physiologically. Most building design prioritizes cost efficiencies and overheads, rather than paying attention to the nuances of human experience.”
Published by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Happy by Design aims to inspire and motivate architects to design for the human experience, while also appealing to the wider public. Through a series of design tips and hand-drawn diagrams, this accessible guide can be used by everyone from employers looking to boost office morale or homeowners looking to DIY their way to a happier home.
Also known as The Mindful Architect, Ben explains his own motivation for producing the book:
“I wanted to create something that was accessible, functional and empowering. There are so many changes we can make to our surroundings – from minor adjustments to those on an urban scale -that will have a palpable effect on our mental wellbeing for the better.”
As Mental Health Ambassador and senior architect at London architectural practice Assael, Ben’s relationship with mental wellbeing in design is both personal and professional. During the final part of his architectural studies, his mental health took a turn for the worse. From this experience, he realised that mental health issues are universal and that anyone can find themselves struggling.
Since then, he has worked tirelessly: researching and designing buildings that will improve people’s mental and physical health. The result is Happy by Design.
Regarded as “inventive and forward looking,” Happy by Design has been praised by New York Times bestselling author Shawn Achor, who commented:
“Channon takes happiness research into an important new domain, to help us rethink and design environments that help make the choice of happiness an easier and more sustainable one.”
Grand Designs presenter and creator of HAB Housing, Kevin McCloud, also commended Happy by Design, saying that:
“anyone building a house should read this first, as should every single developer.”
Follow the conversation on Twitter: #RIBAHappyByDesign @MindfulArchi