By Shivanshu Sonkar
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” mused Winston Churchill.
As Churchill put it, good design is more about giving people a sense of control over their surroundings than it is about how our buildings can influence us. Both physical and psychological well-being is impacted by the built environment, which includes metropolitan infrastructure and private residences. Indoor air quality, lighting, and architectural features are examples of environmental factors that have an immediate impact on one’s mental well-being. Environmental psychology coined the phrase “behavior setting” to describe how the physical environment—time, place, and objects—as well as the social environment—other people’s behavioral patterns—affect behavior. 1978 (Barker).
I observed as the other students in my class came from various communities, cities, and ethnicities. They all have various mindsets and ways of thinking. This demonstrates how their upbringing in urban and rural areas has influenced them. If we observe it at the global level as per reports majority of the Americans are suffering from diseases due to lack of exercise and maximum sitting hours in offices. Illness is more mental than physical, and people of different age groups are suffering because of different factors. the major factor that units they are the lack of ambiance and feel. Because of how the constructed world makes them feel, older people struggle with the idea that they are useless as they age.
The authors of the book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia, revealed the Okinawan island’s secret to living a long and happy life. The authors make it known that the older generation in Okinawa believes in maintaining their productivity; they enjoy their lives by taking on difficult tasks and don’t allow themselves to feel old and incapable to carry out youthful deeds. They cultivate their food, ride motorcycles alone, and play games with their friends, for instance. Okinawa’s Kitanakagusuku village even holds a yearly pageant in celebration of women aged 80 and older.
Oftentimes simple changes in zoning laws can make a city more walkable and live. For example, locating stores, worksites, public transportation, essential services, and schools within short walking distance to residences and buildings by promoting Transit Oriented Designs (TODs) and maintaining sidewalks or paths between destinations that are well-connected, safe, and attractive will increase the likelihood that people will walk to their destinations. Studies show that wider streets encourage drivers to speed. Creating narrower streets and adding parking spaces as a buffer between streets and sidewalks creates a safer environment for pedestrians and encourages physical activity. making sitting platforms in public spaces makes people more interactive. These changes can save cities money by decreasing major health issues and mental issues as well.
Similar changes can be made to buildings. For example, making stairs (as opposed to escalators) more visible and accessible encourages people to take the stairs thereby helping to increase exercise and decrease incidences of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. studies show physical fitness leads to a healthy mind.
Humans react to green and grey areas differently. While some give off an air of warmth, coziness, safety, and security, others may have an unpleasant effect that leads to tension, anxiety, and serious health problems due to the lack of movement.
Shivanshu Sonkar is a fourth-year architecture student at the Institute of Architecture and Town Planning, Bundelkhand University, Jhansi.