After a long time in lockdown, and that lockdown having sent many people to work from home, there has suddenly formed an onus on architects and designers to make workplaces more focussed and aware of wellness.
Hailing from the epicentre of beach volleyball in Venice Beach, California, Cory Walker is an architect who is highly regarded in professional circles for his ‘wellness innovations’ in the field. His firm was launched in February 2020, *just* before the pandemic hit.
Speaking to noted designer and podcast host Adrian Ramsay on his Talk Design podcast, Cory laid out several ideas for how the office spaces and homes of the future could embrace nature to improve our general wellbeing.
“We’re approaching one year in the business doing wellness architecture,” he said. “We chose wellness because it’s such an important part of our recovery from this pandemic.
“People are forced to work from home, businesses don’t have their employees in the office, everyone’s at home, everyone’s dealing with a whole different set of stresses – working with their spouses and their kids; people cope with that differently.
“When they go back to the office, there’s going to be all sorts of new stress … It gives me an anxiety attack just thinking about being around 100 people. I think design can answer that call.”
Speaking on biophilic design (a love for nature by definition), Cory said that people were meant to be in union with nature. “One of the biggest things you could do is bring nature inside of your home. Get a bunch of plants and take care of them and have them thrive and it will make your mind thrive.”
He said static nature is good for wellness, as is dynamic nature, taking a break from work and walking in a park.
“Experiencing (dynamic nature) is super healthy,” he said. “Surrounding yourself with nature would be a first step, and it’s the most economically reachable.”
He says bringing nature into the world of architecture is also important. “Coming home should be something that feels good and you’re proud of… that’s the first step of wellness.”
Cory said that going back into work (post-pandemic) represents a mindset shift, with people fearing going back to work.
“There needs to be a shift,” he said, with people thinking “my company’s investing in the office, making a wellness design, I’m actually excited to be there, like I’m going to be healthier working from there.”
The conversation covered many topics within the theme of biophilic design and will be a useful guide for people returning to the workplace, as well as office managers who may be looking for ways to create a space that’s welcoming for staff who have been essentially absent for the better part of a year.
Samples of Cory Walker’s work can be found at his website, walks-studio.com
The podcast, which spanned close to an hour, is another in a series of chats the Sunshine Coast designer has had with high profile and acclaimed designers, architects, artists and creators of all trades from multiple places around the world.