Form Follows Well-Being
An approach to human centric facade design
Presented on October 13, 2022 at Facade Tectonics 2022 World Congress
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Recent planning recognizes a growing demand for buildings that provide higher levels of occupant well-being. Often, well-being in buildings is reduced to aspects of indoor comfort. Research shows that those aspects only make up a fraction of overall well-being influenceable in buildings. Well-being with its categories mental- and physical health, social-, eudaimonic- and hedonic well-being (e.g. happiness), productivity, and indoor environmental quality represents a more fundamental and universal concept. Targeting all categories of well-being is highly relevant, as we spend approximately 90 % of our time indoors. This paper with its proposed human centric planning guide for façade design provides a tool that optimizes façade components to match enhanced occupant well-being and health.
With the provided tool, project- and building-type specific interdependencies with the levels of (1) well-being categories, (2) occupant well-being components (e.g. thermal environment, views, and adjustability), and (3) façade design components (e.g. glazing to wall ratio and glazing specifications) can be combined causally. The chosen level of occupant well-being triggers the calculation of the optimal façade configuration (within project-specific interdependencies and constraints). The proposed workflow is to be seen as novel approach to occupant well-being and as addition, but not as a replacement to existing practices. All well-being components must fulfill minimum requirements for planning, even if regarded less important by the optimization algorithm. The components can be adapted project-specifically to differing requirements and needs. As research on the topic is still scarce and well-being is non-uniform, the results of this paper are non-conclusive.
Still, the method presented offers sensible design suggestions for more well-being in early-stage façade design, such as recommended glazing ratios and glazing specifications. The paper is a call to architects and consultants for a more holistic façade design for well-being, and a call to researchers to build up on this provided base.
Introduction and Background
Based on research on human centric design, this paper focuses on a wider, more holistic approach to indoor well-being influenceable by façade design. Indoor well-being is highly relevant in our everyday lives, even more so during the worldwide COVID19 pandemic which brings constraints that force us to spend more time indoors while reducing social encounters. Researchers highlight the importance of indoor well-being, as we even in pre-pandemic times, spent about 90 % of our waking time indoors1, possibly resulting in exposure to factors leading to SBS (sick building syndrome)23. Some of the ways façade design can positively affect indoor well-being have been known for years, while other effects and interdependencies still seem unclear. The effects of enhanced daylight supply through façade openings, as example, have been shown to reduce the need for medication4, increase learning speed5 and increase test scores of students6. Access to enhanced outdoor views (of natural elements) has been shows to lead to shorter hospital stays7, better call processing8 and increased mental function and memory9. Even though mentioned studies are at least 16 years old, only little of the investigated effects of façade design on human health and well-being have been formulated as standards, despite the wide range of research since then and a seemingly new-found interest in the topic of well-being. Today, more recent research studies, certification systems, and individual actors aim to close the gap between overall well-being research and its implementation in building and façade design. Most recently, the call: “Let's design building façades that promote happiness”10 was published in the internationally renowned newsletter SKINS by the Façade Tectonics Institute Inc. This paper is a reaction to that call for action and aims to contribute to the discussion by offering a scientific approach to increase well-being and health through façade design. Thus, the paper introduces a façade-specific optimization tool.
While researching the effects of façade design on well-being, it soon became clear that well-being in the building sector is often misinterpreted and misunderstood as indoor comfort, which is only one component of overall well-being. To reduce misunderstandings Keeling et al. (2012)11 propose to use the term “well-being” instead of “comfort”, as well-being is a "more fundamental and universal"12 concept. In their systematic approach to well-being derived from an extensive literature review on well-being in the building sector, Hanc et al. (2019)13 evolved nine categories of overall well-being, which go far beyond the mere aspect of indoor environmental comfort. Each category has associated components of well-being, which, in turn, can be influenced by specific and manipulatable façade parameters, resulting in links between overall well-being and façade design. Well-being categories according to Hanc et al. (2019)14 are:
- Environmental quality, satisfaction, comfort (comfort, control, building design and facilities, indoor environmental quality)
- Mental health (stress, psychological states and traits)
- Physical health (self-reported symptoms, frailty, mobility and safety, illness, sick building syndrome)
- Hedonic / subjective well-being (happiness, affect, satisfaction)
- Eudaimonic well-being (personal growth, control or autonomy)
- Social well-being (participation and interaction, familial context, sense of inclusion, negative spatial experiences)
- Productivity (productivity or performance, learning, cognitive performance)
- Other (here excluded)
- Unspecified (here excluded)
The above list of seven categories chosen is transferred to a user-friendly graphical interface for personalized weighting of the individual categories. This approach, which is named “well-being septopus” by the authors, is displayed in Figure 1.
By applying the list of well-being categories above to façade design (the categories "Other" and "Unspecified" are excluded here), this paper aims to contribute to closing the gap of well-being research and the actual application in façade design by offering a tool that can approximate project-specific well-being outcomes while also suggesting technical solutions for façade design implementations. To sensibly integrate the seven chosen categories of well-being, the long-established literature collection and planning tool "Façade Construction Manual"15 is used as a guide as it specifies "general rules and interdependencies that arise out of a building’s basic functions"16 that lead to fundamental façade specifications. This ensures that the proposed approach acts as addition to established planning methods, not as replacement. This way, all components to façade design (at least) fulfill minimum standards with human-centric components as addition.
It is important to note that the aim of this paper is not to specify the perfect façade or to dictate design measures, but to offer project-specific and individual design guidance on additional well-being components. This approach leads to unique design solutions that not only depend on outside conditions and inside requirements but also on user definitions. The specifications made in this paper serve as example and as invitation for more research on the topic and must be adapted project-specifically. All definitions are made according to own assumptions derived from literature and previous experiences from multiple object optimizations of comfort.
Research Questions and Methods
"Can occupant well-being be targeted holistically and precisely when applying well-being research on buildings to façade design?”
"Can the proposed planning guide be integrated with existing planning methods?”
Results and Discussion
Levels of well-being categories can be chosen individually by manipulating the “well-being septopus” to generate first default values/results, which can be refined and personalized in five steps. In the first
Conclusions and Outlook
"Can occupant well-being be targeted holistically and precisely when applying well-being research on buildings to façade design?”
With the approach of the proposed planning guide, indoor occupant well-being is defined
Klepeis et al., “The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): A Resource for Assessing Exposure to Environmental Pollutants,” 15.↩︎
Bjarne Olesen, “Productivity and Indoor Air Quality.”↩︎
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Hanc, McAndrew, and Ucci.↩︎
Herzog, Krippner, and Lang, “Facade Construction Manual.”↩︎
Herzog, Krippner, and Lang, 17.↩︎
The research leading to this paper was supported by Ralf Greiner and Uwe Kriltz from Guardian Glass Europe. Thank you to them for their support and expert input during this process.
Rights and Permissions
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