Considerations when designing a space for a health, wellness and relaxation:
When designing a space for a wellness facility whether it is a spa, clinic, gym or gathering place the first thing that the user will notice is their comfort level. Is the lighting pleasing and relaxing, is the temperature comfortable, is there sufficient way-finding, does it smell nice, is there loud noises or comforting sounds. All these sensory experiences will have an impact on the user creating a pleasant or unpleasant experience. The entrance should be inviting and calming. Water features create a visual and audio sensory effect that evokes nature and induce relaxation. Indirect dim lighting along with natural materials will aid in creating a relaxing environment. Plants and natural materials like stone and wood will bring a connection with nature.
The use of materials is important to create a healthy space for healing, relaxation and wellness. First and foremost the materials and finishes must be non-toxic. No off gassing or toxic fumes. The materials should have natural properties, look and feel. Finishes can be rustic or sleek and modern but they should not interfere or compete with the users requirement for relaxation to promote healing. Sound is important so surfaces should be softened with rugs or fabric panels to reduce noise vibration. Natural stone looks excellent and creates a natural look and feel. Polished stone will create louder spaces. If the space is large, split faced stone can deflect sound within the space. Precious stones and crystals can add hidden meaning.
Lighting is so important to add emphasis in areas of importance and to create soothing and relaxing spaces where needed. Indirect lighting is an effective way to create a nice ambience while still illuminating the space as required for functionality. Accent lighting can be used to emphasize the materials and finishes. Signage should be well lit.
Lanterns can create soft lighting and play with shadows which can make a space feel more comfortable and intimate. Lighting can create a focal point and interest on an otherwise plain surface.
If the space is a gym or activity area, brighter colour or coloured lighting can energize the space. Colours can be effective and invoking emotion and therefore creating energy.
THE FLOOR PLAN & WAYFINDING
Confusion creates stress. The space should be easy navigate. Planning and signage are key to create simplicity for the user to experience the space. Whether small or large the plan can be centred upon a hub, for example a relaxation area, or it can be successional spaces. As long as the flow is consistent and is not confusing. There is nothing worse then getting lost in a twisting hallway with too many doors. The plan should be intuitive and thoughtful. Waiting and relaxation areas should be quiet and not adjacent to busy spaces. If possible a separation between staff areas and public areas creates more of a stress free atmosphere for guests.
Sofas containing flame retardant on foam are dangerous for our health. The chemicals have been found to cause health problems including cancer. Prior to synthetic foams, feathers, horsehair, wool or cotton batting, and straw was used to fill furniture cushions. Polyurethane foam was introduced as a cushion component in furniture in 1957. Flame retardants were introduced as a safety precaution but end up causing more harm than good. The following are fire retardant chemicals to avoid:
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, are chemicals used as flame retardants in a many products, including building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics, polyurethane foams, and textiles. 1 PBDEs resemble the molecular structure of PCBs, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and impaired fetal brain development. PBDEs have been banned in some U.S. states and the European Union, but they persist in the environment and accumulate in your body – and often exist in products imported from other countries. Higher exposures to PBDEs have been linked to decreased fertility, hormone disruptions, fetal developmental issues, and cancer. In utero and childhood PBDE exposures were associated with neurodevelopmental delays, including decreased attention, fine motor coordination, and cognition.
Another dangerous flame-retardant chemical known as chlorinated tris (TDCPP) can be found in some couch cushions across the United States. The chemical can be transfered in dust form from the foam into household dust and inhaled or ingested. Vacuums and air filters with a HEPA-filter and/or a wet mop helps to reduce exposure to toxic dust. 2
Polyurethane foam products manufactured prior to 2005 are most likely to contain PBDEs. Avoid reupholstering furniture pieces you may suspect to contain PBDEs as the reupholstering process increases your risk of exposure
Firemaster 550 made with bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBPH). TBPH is nearly idential to DEHP, the phthalate banned in children’s products due to evidence of carcinogenicity and developmental toxicity.
How to Avoid It
Healthy Alternatives: 3
Tyical Upholstered Chair