A Guide to Architecture and Wellbeing

21 May 2019

Ben Channon’s new book Happy by Design: A Guide to Architecture and Wellbeing explores the ways that buildings and spaces can impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

Published by RIBA in late 2018, Happy by Design is a pocket-sized volume that identifies and explores seven fundamental design elements that can help to make a happier home: Light, Comfort, Control, Nature, Aesthetics, Activity and Psychology.

“We spend 80% of time indoors,” says Channon, “but we give little thought to how bricks and mortar impact us physiologically. Most building design prioritises cost efficiencies and overheads, rather than paying attention to the nuances of human experience.”

Ben Channon has had a particular affinity with the subject of wellbeing since his university days, when his mental health took a hit at the end of his studies. It was a familiar story – long hours split between work and university, and a drive to be perfect at everything he did. Improving his own wellbeing and that of others in the profession has been a priority ever since, with Channon founding the UK-based Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum in late 2017 (see more on the forum here); and devoting himself to the practice of mindfulness, becoming an accredited mindfulness practitioner. As an architect, it was a logical step to start exploring the effects of the built environment on the human experience of happiness, and the idea of Happy by Design was born.

“Happiness is an incredibly important but often overlooked aspect of our lives. It can result in improved productivity in the workplace and better learning in students; most importantly, it can drastically improve people’s quality of life and physical and mental health,” says Channon.

Each of the seven chapters includes a series of design tips and is accompanied with diagrams and illustrations. Channon’s ambition was to write an easy-to-understand, accessible book for a wide audience – architects and designers, but also the general public who want to make improvements to the spaces in which they live and work.

“There are so many changes we can make to our surroundings – from minor adjustments to those on an urban scale – that will have a palpable effect on our mental wellbeing for the better,” says Channon.

Happy by Design: A Guide to Architecture and Wellbeing is available online from the RIBA Bookshop.


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