by Tommy Manuel
Health is one of the most wished for gifts during the holiday season, both for ourselves and others. It’s often accompanied by the wishes for prosperity and happiness, but health, it’s the one thing that in many ways influences the realization of those other two wishes. Unfortunately, there’s no universal formula that if we all just applied would ensure optimal health for everyone. There’s just too many variables; genetic differences, behavioral variations (such as physical activity and dietary habits), physical handicaps, emotional dispositions, economic irregularities, cultural tendencies, and environmental conditions.
On the other hand, our efforts to grant that wish of optimal human health to everyone is happening on some level in each of these areas. It’s happening through research at the smallest coded level of our DNA, through the expanding fields of human behavioral science, through technological inventiveness that compensates for failed or damaged human parts and processes, through political and social reforms policies, and through environmental remediation and protection efforts. But, what about our cities, our buildings, the places we live, work, play, and rest? Sure, we’ve seen advances in sustainable materials and construction processes, and there’s little criticism found in using these when it comes to creating healthier indoor air quality and reducing the amount of raw material and energy necessary for their production. Advances such as these only have a passive impact on our health though.
Not everyone though thinks this is an acceptable limitation of our built environment. Architects Arakawa and Madeline Gins have been preaching, and practicing, a radical and controversial theory that our buildings and cities should not only optimize human health, but they should also strive to make dying a thing of the past! That’s right, if Arakawa and Gins had their way with architecture – and ultimately its influence on mankind – you and I wouldn’t have to die.
Interior, Bioscleave House, Arakawa & Gins