Developing homes with wellbeing in mind

Authored by Chris Coxon, Head of Marketing at Eurocell plc – the leading manufacturer, distributor and recycler of high quality, cost efficient and sustainable PVC-U solutions

Over the past decade there has been an increase in education and understanding of the impact that our built environment has on our wellbeing. It’s perhaps surprising that the link between the two has only recently been established, when according to the World Health Organisation most Europeans now spend 90% of their lives indoors. This marks a seismic shift in habitat for a species that only two hundred years ago was literally living on the land.

The link between our homes and wellbeing was clearly highlighted in recent research that Eurocell conducted which found that four in five consumers believe the design of their home impacts their wellbeing. When asked about wellbeing in the home, 83% of female respondents and 73% of males said that feeling comfortable and secure in their home impacted their overall wellbeing. When asked what top three factors contribute to consumers feeling good in their own home respondents identified the amount of natural light (48%), low noise levels (39%) and feeling safe and secure (37%).

Analysing the findings, it should again come as no shock that increased exposure to natural light was identified as the number one design trend that impacts wellbeing. After all, it is well established science that exposure to natural light can reduce symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder, stress, anxiety and depression due to the body’s natural release of serotonin. As such, the design of the buildings which we live and work in, have to compensate for the vast sums of time we now spend indoors, by ensuring that they are designed to maximise the natural light that comes into them.

In light of this, housebuilders are also beginning to recognise that, for today’s home occupier, natural light is an increasingly key design aspect in making a house a home. This awareness is influencing all types of design, leading architects, builders and developers to seek innovative approaches to boost natural light in the home.

Architects at leading studios Hawkins Brown, Simpson Haugh and BDP, as well as property developer The High Street Group, discussed the findings of Eurocell’s research, highlighting that regulation vs. design vs. cost is the main equation when it comes to natural light. This illustrates that, while everyone would like to have more light in their homes, external factors, such as cost and localised building constraints, can not always be easily overcome to achieve the goal of maximising it in the home.

In response to this, housebuilders now need to continue to consider innovative ways to optimise the amount of natural light in the home, within the constrains that they often face. One such way is to adopt the WELL architectural standard into building design, a framework that aims to ensure that the buildings we live in advance human health and wellbeing. The standards are based on seven core concepts of health and hundreds of design features that should be considered.

Maximising the amount of natural light in the home is key to this, as most people feel happier and more uplifted in bigger, naturally brighter spaces. Relatively simple designs, such as utilising glass in the roof and having bigger windows, can achieve this goal while also providing the effect of feeling more connected to the outdoors.

Regardless of the route that housebuilders elect to take to respond to this demand, it is essential that they take steps to ensure that interest is generated in future developments and that those moving into the property are happy and comfortable in their surroundings.

You can see all of Eurocell’s findings from the survey in the Future Homes Report which can be downloaded in full here