New RIBA Publishing title moves practitioners to design homes for sustainability and wellbeing at once

Just released Healthy Homes: Designing with light and air for sustainability and wellbeing supports the argument that design solutions focused on sustainability should also positively impact the health and wellbeing of building occupants.

Co-author Koen Steemers, Professor of Sustainable Design in the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge explains.

“There is an urgent need to significantly raise the energy performance level of our current housing stock, and theories abound on how to futureproof our homes in this way. However, improving energy performance should not result in a negative impact on the health, wellbeing and comfort of the end user. So, how are we able to combine these two factors in the design of homes and neighbourhoods and what research can we use to support it?”

Intense interest in health and wellbeing in architecture may be relatively new, but many of the considerations relating to these in terms of design – temperature, air quality, noise, lighting – have a long history in design literature, for architects, engineers and urban designers.

Whilst currently a front-page issue in design advice for the workplace, designing for residential buildings, particularly high density and affordable housing has not been as readily explored. Considering the home as the most important space we spend our time, Healthy Homes explores new areas of research and knowledge in relation to designing for wellbeing that haven’t yet touched mainstream environmental design. These include the circadian rhythm, regular access to nature, social wellbeing and mental health.

Co-author Nick Baker, course tutor at the Architectural Association and a visiting lecturer and external examiner at the University of Cambridge, says,

“The only certainty of the future is that housing design will face ever growing environmental challenges. We believe that adaptability and evidence-based design responses will hold the key to success.”

Essential reading for both practicing architects, engineers and students, as well as sustainable design specialists, the book applies these considerations to a range of areas from urban and neighbourhood design to architecture and material considerations.

Healthy Homes is available now from RIBA Bookshops: