With the 2010 Olympics nearly upon us, we are reminded that athletes keep active so they can dominate in their respective sport. While we may not all be medal contenders, the average person can maintain a healthy existence by incorporating activity into his or her schedule. Typically, this could include a workout at a local gym or a class at a yoga studio.
Robyne Kassen and Sarah Gluck, from Urban Movement Design, think health needn't be an isolated event. Instead, they suggest it is a lifestyle that can be enhanced through architecture and design. They remind us that because we live in an over-stressed and over-worked world, our sympathetic nervous system is over-taxed. Movement keeps our blood circulating (to get rid of those unwanted toxins), while deep relaxation helps to nurture our parasympathetic system.
This duo collaborates on health-related design projects by applying the fundamentals of movement to their design process. By taking the principles of yoga or pilates, "off mat," Gluck and Kassen suggest that healthy living can be integrated into everyday activities. By following the standards outlined in the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, they can also make it available to everyone. They refer to their approach as one that pursues "human sustainability."
For their most recent project, they developed bus shelters, benches and bicycle racks for the 2010 Olympic Village at Whistler. Each is designed to invite people to interact with their environment so as to promote healthy living during daily routines. As a LEED-ND (Neighborhood Development) pilot project, the team sought to fulfill two LEED-ND points through their design: Universal accessibility and innovation.
Creating something for the Olympics will impact Whistler's residents and visitors. But Robyne and Sarah imagine these same principles being applied in the workplace, be it a school, an office or a hospital. By designing spaces with movement and health in mind, people are invited to participate with their environment without waiting until their next yoga class or rehabilitative session. Urban Movement Design believes that this mindset and way of working can create shifts in an entire health care system. And we happen to think this idea deserves a gold.
(photos courtesy of Rachel Rabhan)