Commercial architecture has changed a lot over the last few decades, and as we continue to deepen our understanding of how our surroundings impact our mental and emotional health, we’ll continue seeing comercial design evolve and change for the better. One element we are seeing more of in commercial architecture is trauma-informed design, and in this article we’ll explain what it is and why it’s gaining popularity.
Trauma informed design framework
Our society has become more accepting of openly discussing things that impact so many of us, like traumatic experiences and depression and mental illness. When people go to work they can’t simply turn off their mental illness, or completely forget about their trauma until the day is over.
Architects are now using a trauma-informed design framework to create spaces where everyone feels safe and supported, and where people feel their environment contributes to their healing. This framework includes empowerment, connection, hope, safety, joy, and peace of mind – and while it’s beneficial for interior spaces to incorporate all of these elements, there is no one-size-fits-all way to design an office space using this framework.
Putting human well-being at the forefront of design
For a long time, office buildings were simply built for purpose. Bosses wanted their staff to come in, do their job, and go home. Very little consideration was given to anything else, like how staff might feel while in the office, or if they had adequate space to take mental health breaks and connect with other colleagues.
Now, the paradigm has shifted and human well-being is at the forefront of design. Architects work with building owners to ensure the space caters to all five senses, that it’s accessible to people with disabilities, and that it’s psychologically beneficial for everyone. They do this by ensuring all rooms and levels of a building are wheelchair accessible, and if able creating separate wellness areas in the office. When designing for the senses, plans are kept simple and bright so they do not cause over stimulation. Architects will design a layout with a clear sight path, strategically placed windows and high ceilings to allow employees to feel safe and avoid feeling trapped.
Creating wellness-centered spaces
Wellness doesn’t look the same for everyone. Some people want comfortable areas where they can take breaks throughout the day, while others prefer to have some quiet moments alone. Wellness-centered spaces take into account the fact that staff will be dealing with mental illness, trauma, and other aspects of being human.
Commercial architects have seen a huge increase in wellness-centered spaces, and they’ve also observed the shift from only caring about efficient design to putting consideration for peoples’ well-being at the forefront of the design plans. We expect that the focus on trauma-informed design will continue to increase because employers now recognize that staff can’t simply turn off their emotions while they’re in the workplace. It has also become clear to employers that their staff can work more efficiently in a space they feel comfortable in.
It’s all about Taking Care of Each Other
If you’d like to learn more about trauma-informed design in commercial architecture, or if you have any questions, please contact us at Seth Leeb Architecture today. We look forward to hearing from you.