An Architect’s Path To Living Well Means Designing For Happiness


neutral dining in kitchen with natural light

A Jackson Hole, Wyoming, project by Vera Iconica Architecture features an abundance of light and a layout that optimizes mountainside living. (PHOTO BY AARON KRAFT)

Vera Iconica Architecture’s Veronica Schreibeis Smith breaks down the importance of wellness in the built environment. 

I like to say we design experiences and architecture happens to be our medium. Whether you call it wellness architecture or something different, what we’re seeking to do—not just with every project, but with every space—is nurture the soul, optimize people’s lives and elevate the human experience. Architecture is the practice of creating your surroundings and it can influence everything from an inhabitant’s emotions and cognitive performance to relationships and the ways in which we gather and interact. Did you know we spend 90 percent of our time indoors? How we sculpt and model that interior really impacts every single part of our lives.

Buildings are powerful. There have been neuroscientific studies done where EKGs are performed on people who are then taken into unique buildings like a temple, Grand Central Station or the Salk Institute. Their frontal lobe actually shuts down once inside. This is what happens in meditation, when you enter a non-dualistic or flow state, which is your highest level of being. So people who can tap into this and work from their flow state are often high-performing businesspeople, musicians or creatives—they feel super productive and happy. I try to create spaces that support how people want to operate and are tailored to their inhabitants in every way because when homes have a proportional or harmonic resonance, you will ultimately feel better.

At the end of the day, humans are a part of nature and if we fight that or try to shut it out, we end up hurting ourselves. I make sure that natural materials and plenty of light are present in every project. Using local resources also creates a sense of culture, belonging and identity which is really important to our existence. But everything comes back to being in harmony with nature and taking care of our planet.

—As told to Kathryn Given




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