That bond between sustainability and wellbeing

Introduction

What are the main challenges of green design? The health crisis has brought the urgent need to combat climate change into the foreground, calling for changes in the perspective of sustainable design and architecture. But limitation of environmental impact is not just a matter of energy efficiency of buildings; it also requires more strategic integration of architecture, urban context, interior design and personal wellness. Sustainability also implies flexibility of use, a local urban dimension and access to green areas, factors that raise new questions about the design of the workplace. We talked it over with some Milan-based design firms, in “physical” conversations that took place during the short moment of near normality of Milano Design City 2020.

I Gianmarco Bocchiola, COIMA Image

 

“The challenges of sustainability should be approached, on the one hand, through the courage to make unpopular decisions that change our way of living, through programmatic and structural management of sustainability in shared forums, involving political players, real estate professionals, architects and experts on physical plant, the environment and digitalization, […] to interpret the data on how we move and how we consume, in a critical way.”

IBM Studios, Milan. © Francesca IoveneIBM Studios, Milan. © Francesca Iovene

“As for the office, it will shift from a place of processing to one of collaboration, with increasingly flexible spaces that can be reconfigured for different activities. The true wealth of companies is their human capital: to create spaces and an organizational model that fosters the wellbeing of inhabitants is a fundamental way to generate value.”
— Gianmarco Bocchiola, COIMA Image

II Michele Rossi, Park Associati

 

“I we think of the building as a human body, we will have a more holistic approach to projects. If we think of sustainability as a theme that is not separate from design, it will include a series of aspects linked to interiors, [...] and to how they can be placed at the service of their users. The project should also continue in the phase of usage, to adapt it [...] to the changes that are taking place in people and in their ways of working.”

Allen & Overy, Milan. © Andrea MartiradonnaAllen&Overy, Milan. © Andrea Martiradonna

“There is a kind of training that has to be done in relation to our clients, who are lacking in knowledge of the most virtuous processes to achieve certain results. Sustainability calls for a broad vision that extends through the start of the process, the phase of design, construction, the life of the building, all the way to its demolition. The idea that a building has to die without leaving any trace of its passage puts the whole process into perspective.”
— Michele Rossi, Park Associati

III Katia Gentilucci, Progetto CMR

 

“Sustainability is a priority issue. Things began with BREEAM certification for buildings, then moving to LEED and now to WELL, a protocol that evaluates components like VOCs or types of paint that have an impact on personal wellbeing. Sustainability today is a process that has been absorbed: the large corporations, above all, have an ethical code, and certifications which they continue to update.”

Headquarters Progetto CMR, MilanHeadquarters Progetto CMR, Milan

“By now, projects are the result of the collaboration of a full range of types of expertise, [...] including architects, engineers, sustainability experts, worksite safety professionals. The same is true for interior design.”
— Katia Gentilucci, Progetto CMR

IV Filippo Taidelli, FTA

 

“We have to make buildings function as if they were plants, which cannot move and have roots, to exploit local resources. The house not only has to consume less; it also has to provide higher levels of wellbeing. [...] In Italy we have an enormous heritage of existing buildings, but they are the ones that consume the most energy, the oldest structures, which [nevertheless] can still respond effectively to contemporary needs. We have to conserve their spirit, their structural honesty.”

Humanitas University Campus, MilanHumanitas University Campus, Milan

“The pandemic has accelerated processes already in progress, such as the functional hybridization of spaces, in the case of the office, also outside the home and outside the office itself. […] A very rapid change is taking place towards something that is more fluid in space and time.”
— Filippo Taidelli, FTA

V Cesare Chichi, 967Arch

 

“Design can be self-indulgent, or it can be aware of the impact of all its choices, on products and spaces. Choices that are aptly translated in the passage from LEED to WELL certification, where the latter concentrates on the value and impact of a building on personal wellbeing. It is a more interdisciplinary and humanistic vision of design.”

Kantar headquarters, MilanKantar headquarters, Milan

“The production processes of the greatest impact come from engineering and the organization of the companies themselves. If we think about the use of certain materials, we see that they arrive from industrial research and experimentation.”
— Cesare Chichi, 967Arch

VI Giulia Cazzaniga,
Tétris Design & Build

 

“Today the wellbeing of employees is a major priority, through buildings with more access to the outside, on a more human scale, rather than the traditional office towers. The indoor-outdoor relationship has become a basic necessity. The design of green areas has to be approached from the outset: from the choice of layout to that of materials, to a zero waste approach, through which we try to grant new life to every object, reducing disposal of existing things to a minimum.”

Asset Management Company, Milan. © Davide GalliAsset Management Company, Milan. © Davide Galli

“The choices made by clients and designers are increasingly oriented towards companies with high levels of awareness of environmental necessities. […] In design they are seeking softer, comfortable colors and materials, which help to establish a relationship with the outside world. There is also a move towards biophilic design, bringing plants into the workspace.”
— Giulia Cazzaniga, Tétris Design & Build

VII Ilaria Bistrattin, HyperArch

 

“Due to the pandemic, the inhabitants of spaces have begun to think about how to improve livability, with a greater focus on outdoor spaces, for example. We are moving towards a higher level of sustainability in architecture, demanded by the world in which we live.”

Multicolor Headquarter, MilanMulticolor Headquarter, Milan

“There are two aspects of sustainability: one is environmental, having to do with the use of low-impact materials, for example, and the consideration of their life cycle; the other is economic, i.e. related to the burdens imposed by obsolete, energy guzzling buildings. Energy upgrading is an excellent step towards sustainability.”
— Ilaria Bistrattin, HyperArch

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