Wellness in Real Estate Development
Only a few years ago wellness as a concept was considered the ground of hippy 60s and 70s throwbacks. It was considered to have relatively intangible benefits (or at least unstudied benefits) and a small and unprofitable demand. But peoples have increased focus on their health and environment during the past decade. This has meant that the ‘wellness concept’ has become a mainstream ideal that continues to gain momentum. Fitness boutiques and health shops now grace many a high-street environment. Wellness has become a part of life and wellness in real estate development has become necessary.
What is Wellness?
So, what is wellness? According to the World Health Organisation, “Wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In effect, it is a measure of happiness and good health in the individual.
The Importance of Wellness in Real Estate Development
Wellness in Real Estate development can help meet the needs of the ‘new’ demographic. Millennials and Gen X are making active choices to achieve wellness. As part of this the physical environment and spaces which complement the wellness concept has become important. Wellness in real estate development is needed to meet the needs of new homes consumers. It should also govern the development of public spaces.
The way spaces are designed can have a direct impact on the mental and physical health of the users of the space. Dark, small, airless spaces are typically associated with depression while in contrast light, airy and comfortable spaces enable relaxation and contentment, an essential component of wellness.
Health and fitness is a major element of the ‘wellness concept’ and ironically, it is the development of urban centres, transport infrastructure as well as product development of items like food processors etc has led to the decline of physical activity in many countries.
Many hotel chains have already picked up on the need for wellness and incorporate spas, fitness centres, saunas and far more into their projects. It is time for the residential and larger resort developers to keep pace.
How Can Developers Embrace the Wellness Concept?
There are several things that developers can do to embrace the wellness concept and to acknowledge the importance of wellness in real estate development which will, in turn, increase the appeal of their projects. These include the design of residential spaces, outdoor spaces in addition to facilities and amenities.
A good interior lighting architect will understand that the lighting of a space affects the mood, heart rates and even sleep patterns of individuals using it. Bright blue and white lights should be used in spaces where concentration and activity is needed, for example, kitchens can benefit from this harsher light as can studies and offices.
Bringing outside light inside should occur to the extent viable as part of the architectural concept. Warmer lighting can be used in spaces which have strong natural lighting during the day. This warm light, particularly with red hues, is proven to aid sleep and relaxation. Being well rested is one of the fundamental facets of wellness and with a huge proportion of the world’s population suffering from fatigue, creating a ‘sleep well’ environment can add value to your development.
Trends like Danish Hygge and the simple Finnish lifestyle dominate interior design, beauty and health magazines. They embrace comfort and balance in design and this need has become mainstream.
Creating areas dedicated to relaxation within a property, open spaces with natural materials and without clutter is key to the concept of comfort. Developers can incorporate ‘comfy corners’ in spaces from bedrooms to living areas. A fireplace is always a popular addition as is a reading nook. This will help potential customers also visualise themselves using the space – but don’t be too prescriptive, flexibility is key.
Another item at the ‘top’ of the agenda of governments and individuals is nutrition. The prevalence of ready-made, microwave meals, takeaways and other manufactured food has had a dreadful impact on our collective health. Slowly, people are making lifestyle choices to undertake home cooking with natural ingredients. This makes a functional kitchen space more important in its contribution to wellness in real estate development.
Instead of people getting natural exercise as part of their daily routines, these days they tend to put dedicated time aside for fitness activities. People are also more concerned with what they are using to fuel their bodies.
Fitness facilities, such as gyms and yoga centres can create substantial appeal for people buying within a development. Property owners and tenants do not necessarily want to pay extra maintenance for these facilities, but would pay a membership fee like they would for any other gym or health facility. Health shops and restaurants can also provide an excellent way to ensure that people stay well-nourished when they need a break from the home cooking.
Communal garden space which is designed in a way to allow people to relax and feel at ease is a natural way to improve wellness. Water features are proven to add to contentment, some sort of evolutionary response seemingly! The sound of water also adds to relaxation, a gentle lapping or light stream of water will work nicely.
Well-lit building exteriors, corridors and landscaped areas define the mood of the space and can impact the mood, heart rates and even sleep patterns of those using it. The lighting should be functional and fit for purpose.
As wellness moves from a concept to the ‘norm’ it will be more essential to incorporate elements that support its achievement in the development of new homes and resorts. Projects with ‘wellness’ features will outperform those which lack these features. With careful advanced planning, many of these features need not have an impact on development costs. The integration of wellness in real estate development is here to stay.