The theme for World Architecture Day 2022 is ‘Architecture for Well-being’, which led our team of urbanistas to reflect on the architectural designs that have influenced their health and welfare over the years.
Well-being is a concept that, in today’s troubled world, is arguably more important than ever. Thankfully, awareness of the need for well-being is also seemingly higher than ever, and it was intriguing listening to the team on the different environments that have provided them with such positive experiences, illustrating clearly that with such a key component in our lives, we can be united by our differences, to get to the same end-goal.
Read on, and please comment on your experiences. Do you know these buildings and environments that have had such an impact on the urban team? What did they mean to you? As the author of this piece, I came into it with some pre-conceptions of the places the team would tell me about, and the reasons they supported their well-being. I was miles off with my predictions, and ended up equally fascinated and drawn-in to these special places.
Mark Nagle, urban Operations Director
Tom Brooker – Architecture Talent Acquisition Specialist – Chicago
Architecture graduate Tom was the first person to share their experiences and insight on the experience of well-being.
For me, Lascaux IV made me realise that I wanted to become an architect. This Snohetta design, integrated deep into the French countryside, uniquely and vividly fuses ancient history and modern, cutting edge design in a sensitive, user-friendly manner.
I had the honour of visiting this site in 2018. Fundamentally, Lasacux IV is a museum cut into the landscape around and above some remarkable artwork in the cave network below, believed to emanate from some 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.
When I first visited Lascaux IV, I was immersed in a time of significant personal challenge, struggling with personal, consistent and crippling anxieties, which were negatively affecting my quality of life and outlook. Snohetta’s design really helped. It is simply a space where you can get lost in history and marvel at the durability of human life.
My overwhelming observation of Lascaux IV was how it compliments its environment. Driving into the town where it’s based, a rural area of France, it would have been easy for the architect to design an over-bearing building, focused on them, rather than the historical significance the building was made to celebrate. This design just gets it. The vibrant form of the building, and it’s contemporary artwork, somehow feels so natural as you step through time, guided by the route through the building which takes you through the caves against the backdrop of timeless artwork. I was inspired by the blended design, which compliments the experience, through the use of light and form. As I left Lascaux IV, I immediately decided to feature it for an artwork project, sketching it, and plunging myself into the creative process as a means of escape.
Ryan Doble – Senior Recruitment Consultant – Architecture and Interior Design – UK-wide
Ryan likes to work hard, but to balance that and keep his sense of well-being, he finds that few things help him rechage more than travelling to new places around the world.
Without doubt, my favourite city (so far) is Singapore. Remarkably, you don’t even need to leave the airport to be absolutely blown away!
It may seem that the Rain Vortex Jewell, at Changi Airport, is a lazy choice. After all, it’s one of the best known images in the world. The fact of the matter is however, before I visited Singapore, I was unaware of its existence.
Opening just two weeks before I arrived in Singapore, this mystical garden (apparently inspired by the hit movie franchise ‘Avatar’) just took my breath away. The flight from London to Singapore is a long one. As my wife and I arrived, we were shattered and ready to get to our hotel.
An airport acts as a great metaphor for life… it’s highly transactional, can be dull and laborious, it’s tiring, and often stressful. Walking through Changi airport, however, we suddenly found ourselves in an urban forest, surrounded by luscious, sky high trees, tropical growth and the sound of the most magnificent waterfall. Private terraces were open to all to collect your thoughts and breathe in the magnificence all around you, all while a highly complex tram network whizzed around the site. In contrast to Tom’s experience with Snohetta’s design, this area felt like I’d stepped into a science fiction film! The sustainable use of rain water, which is collected on the structure roof, reused and recirculated through the waterfall system, and the 227,000 sq foot valley, the CO2 absorption from the vast trees and the greenness of the whole area reinvigorated me entirely.
It’s a space to marvel over; one where relaxation and well-being is a central theme, and where, somehow, despite being in the middle of an airport, you can feel at one with nature. If the future looks like this, I’m in!
Lauren Botting – Recruitment Consultant – Interior Design – London
When many people think of world destinations synonymous with peace and tranquility, it may well be Bali that springs to mind. That’s certainly the case for urbanista Lauren.
This remarkable island is a traveler’s paradise. One where many people go to find themselves and embrace the fundamental principles of the Buddhist faith practiced by a large part of the country.
Leading the way in well-being however, is the resort of Ubud, and my personal piece (or peace) of heaven is Sharma Springs designed for John and Cynthia Hardy.
Built entirely out of bamboo, Sharma Springs is the tallest bamboo structure in Bali, nestled deep into the community of Green Village. From the moment you enter this unique building, you’re gripped by how in sync with nature it is. From the main entrance on the 4th floor, you’re straight into a fantasy jungle escape.
The spirituality of the building honours the land, with a depth of femininity in its design. It’s a place where you can escape technology, the hustle and bustle, and just focus on yourself. A yoga-lover’s paradise; I find this the ultimate place to unwind and recharge.
What’s more, you can even book a stay through airbnb. I must warn you though… the price may not be quite as good for your financial wellbeing!
Jacob Ramsey – Talent Acquisition Specialist – Architecture – New York
Growing up, Jacob’s passion was dance, so it’s not surprising that he’s chosen the famous Joan Weill Centre for Dance as his most inspiring building.
I studied dance at degree level and have always found it a platform for me to lose myself and my inhibitions within the creative process. It’s for this reason that The Joan Weill Centre for Dance is my nomination this World Architecture Day.
I first visited this unique dance venue in Manhattan in 2013. If you’re not completely aware of the dance industry, think the hit TV show ‘Fame’. The Joan Weill Centre for Dance is just that. Room after room of people of all ages, races, nationalities and sexualities sharing a passion for creativity. It’s presently the biggest dance school in the whole of New York, with over 200,000 people using its facilities per annum.
A huge part of the legacy for the Joan Weill Centre of Dance is centered around Alvin Ailey. Ailey was the first highly successful Black choreographer within the dance industry: he was a trailblazer.
Alvin’s first live performances in the 1940s were ridiculed. After all, he was a Black man trying to enter an industry led by White people at a time where racism, segregation and prejudice were sickeningly the norm. Alvin helped change the perception of Black dancers and acted as an inspiration to many; promoting an era of change. Famously, he was featured by Beyonce in one of her videos.
My particular experience of the Joan Weill Dance Centre is how it made me feel. As a 6ft 3, slim, white man, I also felt conscious about how I looked on the dance floor. Attending the dance school though, my difference was celebrated. I was encouraged and believed in. It gave me true insight into what I could do as a male dancer. I have been able to use dance as my form of expression; a way to demonstrate my emotions and recharge.
The work of this dance school helps huge volumes of young people by making exercise fun, and showing them – even the skinny 6 foot 3 boys – that they can love dance!”