Historically, many architects have experimented on their own homes, pushing boundaries, or testing new ideas that set the stage for their careers. Twenty years ago, my wife Nancy and I set out to design our loft accommodating our newborn son Bo. The 800sf space located within the Hotel des Artistes on Central Park West is where we incorporated the maximum natural daylight and ventilation possible. We added biophilia, designed dual-use spaces, and incorporated a home office, thereby integrating early “wellness practices.” This toolbox of healthy-home criteria soon developed into our signature design style.
The House & Garden Network – HGTV (an early forerunner to shelter programming) found the loft so compelling that they aired it prime-time on a Sunday morning. It received 12m+ views and was syndicated internationally, resulting in a call from Hong Kong. An excited viewer explained that he just saw the segment on the ‘morning show’ and wanted Nancy to tune up his apartment in HK.
As I re-watch the video today, what surprises me the most, are all the human-centric points that we thought about before “wellness design” was even a term and, more importantly, the relevance of these design tools today — Post-COVID. The all-important natural light and operable windows, which increase the number of air exchanges, durable natural materials like teak wood and slate stone, which are easily clean antimicrobial surfaces, and biophilia’s physical and psychological well-being — the bamboo planter, connect us with nature.
What really tickles me, though, is our son Bo, just 1-1/2 years old in the video, is now a senior at SUNY – Buffalo. He is pre-med and ‘walking the wellness talk.’ He tells me he remembers shaking the hell out of his bamboo forest and watching leaves fall to the floor, providing hours of laughter and enjoyment.
So check out the video and let us know which of these wellness tips you plan to incorporate into your new healthy home!