At AVID we are passionate about creating safe spaces in our community. Our goal isn’t to just create spaces that meet our basic needs of shelter, but to instead create spaces that support wellbeing, allowing people to live and work in the best possible way, and hopefully create spaces that can inspire joy!
In fact we are so passionate about creating safe spaces for people to inhabit, that we have created a course called “Building to Thrive Training”. This course is for Architects, Designers, Developers, Property Managers, or anyone else interested in learning how to contribute to creating safer spaces and communities for people to live, work and play.
When talking about safe spaces, we aren’t just talking about how to design a space to create physical safety, but also considering how we can design spaces to support emotional and mental wellbeing as well.
We believe that the importance of creating safe spaces is only increasing since globally, 55% of people now live in urban areas, and in Canada this number has already hit 80%. If the built environments that we call home are unable to support our physical, emotional and metal wellbeing, then our communities are all going to suffer.
With this in mind, we developed the content of our Building to Thrive Training to focus on Multi-Family Housing since our homes are where we spend so much of our time. Having a home that supports our wellbeing is essential, and when thinking about a space where people live, we think it is really important to make the distinction between ‘House’ and ‘Home’.
The environmental Psychologist Robert Gifford says that, “A house is not a home. A house (or apartment, condo, tipi or, in general, any residence) is a physical structure. Home is the rich set of evolving cultural, demographic, and psychological meanings that people attach to that physical structure. Thus, despite real estate advertisements to the contrary, you cannot buy a home. You can buy or rent a residence and, with luck, time, and effort, turn it into a home.”
It is this idea of ‘home’ that we strive to help create for people in our designs, and focus on in the content of our Building to Thrive Training. We believe that creating a home is so important since we know that living in a home can have positive impacts on an inhabitant’s wellbeing. Gifford defined 6 dimensions required to create a home:
haven | order | identity | connectedness | warmth | the physical suitability of the space
If we can build some of these dimensions into our designs, then we can help create spaces that make us feel safe and protected, and also create spaces that people see as being worth caring for.
There are many real world housing problems that we see come up time and time again with multi-family housing, and have used some of them as the framework to develop 8 modules for our Building to Thrive Training.
- Effective Lighting – A building’s lighting impacts our ability to perceive what is happening around us. In our Building to Thrive training we explore how the placement and amount of lighting impacts a users’ sense of safety and understanding of a space.
- Easy Wayfinding – Getting lost while navigating a building is a tiring experience. This module explores how buildings can be designed to make it easier for people to find their way around and feel secure in a sense of where they are.
- Social Influence – Some spaces have inhabitants or regular visitors who keep an eye on what’s happening. This natural surveillance boosts the safety of these spaces through deterring antisocial behaviours like littering or vandalism.
- Protecting Vulnerable Spaces – Some spaces like public stairwells and large blank walls are vulnerable to unwanted behaviours like vandalism, loitering and theft. Once identified, there are many ways to improve the safety of these spaces.
- Human Scale – Buildings can comfortably fit the proportions of the human body, or they can feel out of scale and harsh or alienating. When designed with human scale in mind, spaces feel proportional, natural, and safe.
- Healthy Buildings – Buildings impact our physical health in some very direct ways: cleanliness of common areas, indoor air quality, and whether or not they encourage physical activity such as taking the stairs.
- Elements to Identify With – Some elements of a building like unique details and murals can express the culture, identity and aspirations of inhabitants. This adds character to the building and invites people to develop a meaningful bond with it.
- Spaces Worth Caring For – Beautiful spaces inspire positive emotions, while unkept ones imply that no one cares for them. By investing in elements that bring life and joy to a space, inhabitants are more likely to care about it and help maintain it.
To go along with each module we have developed an actionable Building to Thrive Checklist that you can use to evaluate your own buildings. These checklists will walk you through the various spaces of your building and help identify actionable items that you can implement to improve the space and quality of life for its occupants.
Are you ready to take action and help people thrive? Please connect with us, we would love to help you get started!