Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Designs That Promote Healthier Communities

When designing a building it is necessary to design features in a home that will promote healthy behaviors and foster engagement opportunities for residents. Even the smallest design changes to a surrounding can have a strong impact on mood and overall health. Spaces that fail to promote community movement can lead to obesity and other physical health conditions. A lack of recreational space in a building can cause a sense of isolation and puts an unwanted strain on our emotional health.

JMA has always made it our mission to create buildings that improve the quality of life for residents and design features that can contribute to a healthier happier lifestyle. When we were designing a large residential building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, we placed a strong emphasis on functional space before formal concept. Our design goal was large apartments, comfortable balconies, abundant daylighting and open views. The development project is 90,000 square ft. and is located in a suburb of Buenos Aires called Ramos Meija. The footprint of the building is open on all 4 sides, letting the building open towards 2 centenarian palms, thus giving the name to the building: Palmeras de Ramos (Palms of Ramos).
Ramos Meija designed by JMA

Design's Impact on Our Mood 

The design of building is a key part of the solution in delivering healthy communities. The rooftop terrace we designed at Palmeras de Ramos is meant to be a place of social encounter for residents to interact and make friends. It is very spacious and encourages residents to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines by walking on the terrace and also around the walkways surrounding the building. Based on the design we created, we believe the accessibility we achieved can help residents combat issues like obesity and related chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Communities appreciate having a well-designed open space because it promotes active living and movement.
Design Features That Foster Healthy and Active Spaces

It is very important to make sure apartments are designed with an open layout because it improves the quality of life for residents and diminishes the feeling of claustrophobia. At the Palmeras Ramos building we chose to design comfortable balconies for residents. This design feature extends the residents’ homes and makes them feel happy because it gives them access to the outside world.
The comfortable balconies at Ramos Meija
Along with an open floor plan, architects can improve physical and mental health for residents by using a design that improves ventilation and provides fresh air for the home. 54 Bright Street, another development project of JMA’s, is a high performance building built with an open layout and Passive Design strategies that are implemented into all aspects of the design.

The Positive Benefits of Passive Design

Jorge is passionate about Passive Design, he believes that an efficient design means responding to locate climate and site conditions to maximize building users’ comfort. When architects create an efficient design they must be thinking about the natural elements that can help residents feel more comfortable, like wind. Wind provides household heating cooling, ventilation and lighting, thereby reducing or removing the need for mechanical heating or cooling.

At 54 Bright we used passive design techniques to improve indoor air quality and reduce temperature fluctuations making it more enjoyable to live in. Jorge believes that architects should design buildings with comfort and resource-efficiency in mind. Buildings and apartments should be designed to be comfortable for residents to unwind when they need to, but still gives them the opportunity for social interaction. We encourage architects and developers to create buildings that have a strong social structure because it can promote healthy behaviors and prevent isolation.
54 Bright designed by JMA
It doesn’t matter if you are building a large development building or a smaller townhouse, adding a small change like a bench in the front of the building is a tool meant for people to interact with one another and feel happy having a discussion. People need community design features such as outdoor recreational space, safe streets, landscaping, outdoor play space because it can contribute to enhancing a sense of neighborhood identity. With all of our projects it is important for us as architects to create designs that are not only beautiful but resource efficient, embraces its inhabitants, and foster vibrant communities.


• Stewart, M. Cyril “How design can encourage home and community health”. The American Institute of Architects. Web

• Woo, Lisa “How to design communities that make residents fitter and healthier.” The Guardian. 3 Sept. 2014, Web.

• Center For Active Design “Engaging Communities to Promote Health through Design”. Web.

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