Connectedness to ourselves, others, our environment, time and energy is essential for human wellbeing. Raven & Wood approaches spatial health through analysis and facilitation of elements of connectedness. This approach is based on architectural psychology and postphenomenology, in which technology is a mediator between the physical world and human experience. These are brought together with a pragmatic take on spatial design, which leans on principles of sustainable design.

Healthcare costs are on the rise as we live longer than ever, and are more overweight and depressed than ever. Today, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide . By consequence, individuals, communities and organisations suffer from a loss of performance and profits.
    Reasons for the increasing health issues are by far less individual than are often thought of. Both mental health and overweight issues are largely due to environmental factors and could be decreased or prevented by shifts in our environment. 

Our physical and social environments have a response in our bodies and brains. Human beings prefer certain environmental elements that are perceived safe or beneficial. How our environments nurture or reject us have a profound impact on our health.
    With leadership and social culture that respects and cares for the community, health-oriented design of built environments is a powerful, preventative measure with long-term benefits.

In the near future, a technology-driven societal paradigm shift will radically affect our lives from healthcare and transportation to work and construction. In contrast, our brain is still wired to survive in the stone age. We bring these opposing elements together into built environments that both support our ancient brain and embrace the technological evolution. •


Staff of Raven & Wood is qualified WELL AP™ (WELL Accredited Professional) by the International WELL Building Institute™. The certificate supports expertise and a commitment to advancing human health and wellness in buildings and communities, and signifies specialization in the WELL Building Standard™ .
  The WELL Building Standard™ is the first building standard to focus exclusively on the health and wellness of the people in buildings.
Compatible with environmental and energy building standards LEED and Living Building Challenge, WELL is an evidence and performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features that impact human health and well-being in the built environment, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.



Property of an element, an object or an environment that provides a possibility for action. Transactions between an individual and their environment; props that enable interaction between the user and the context. The term was originally created by psychologist James J. Gibson in 1977/1979. In architecture, the concept has been developed by Dutch architecture office RAAAF .

In maths, connections in a complex network of meanings and properties, in which all the components can be understood as ‘one whole.’ ‘A state of being joined or linked’ and ‘a feeling of belonging to or having affinity with a particular person or group.’


‘A relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else’ and ‘the action of linking one thing with another.’ ‘A state or fact of being connected’ and to ‘fasten together, to tie, join together.’
Contextual design

Often understood as a user-centred process which collects and uses data about user’s needs, processes and intents . In design for spatial health, contextual design can be understood as an indirect, preventative measure in supporting and enhancing human health; designers are not doctors, but design of our environments – contexts – significantly affect our health.
Contextual health

Looks onto the surroundings and contexts of a health issue in order to define reasons for the symptom instead of solely focusing on the symptom itself. These contexts are both social, physical and environmental. A healthy social and physical context enables better health of individuals.
Design research

Used for purposes such as learning about people's behavior, understanding and analyzing culture, defining context, and setting focus. ‘Originally constituted as primarily research into the process of design, developing from work in design methods, but the concept has been expanded to include research embedded within the process of design, including work concerned with the context of designing and research-based design practice.’


‘A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.’
Integrative design

Integrative medicine approaches health from a holistic perspective. The patient-centred practice takes physical, emotional and psychological aspects into consideration instead of looking for a sole solution for a symptom. In designing for spatial health, integrative design approaches a client and a site from similar perspective; the role of design is preventative and systemic.

‘A state of being connected with each other’ ; ‘interrelatedness’ . Emphasizes the relation between components – in designing for spatial health, relatedness between individuals or individuals and their environments or communities.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED by the Green Building Council is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. The global standard provides a framework to create healthy, efficient and cost-saving green buildings .
Mental health

‘Defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’ ‘Includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.’

Phenomenology of architecture

Architectural theory stemming from the 1950s that focuses on kinesthetic and multisensory perception and human experience of spaces, and architecture as embodied thought. Originally starkly contrasted the then-prevalent architectural modernism. One of the leading thinkers and theorists of phenomenology of architecture today is Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa.
Postphenomenology of architecture

Postphenomenology in philosophy of science observes the mediating role of technology. Postphenomenology of architecture approaches technology as a mediator of space and architecture and human experience, and investigates quantitative possibilities of technology in detecting and measuring qualitative brain-bodily responses to our environments. In designing for spatial health, this data can be used in creating environments that support human health.

‘Relating to the mental perception of physical stimuli,’ ‘pertaining to the mind and its relation to physical manifestations,’ ‘pertaining to the psychosocial and physical aspects of a client’s health and illness.’ In designing for spatial health, taking both mental and physical stimuli in a space into consideration.

‘Involving both psychological and social aspects,’ ’relating to conditions to mental health.’ ‘The psychosocial approach looks at individuals in the context of the combined influence that psychological factors and the surrounding social environment have on their physical and mental wellness and their ability to function.’

‘A relation or reference to a particular thing or situation,’ ‘an act of giving particular attention’ and ‘high or special regard,’ ‘the quality or state of being esteemed.’ ‘A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.’
Social capital

‘A form of economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central; transactions are marked by reciprocity, trust and cooperation; and market agents produce goods and services not mainly for themselves, but for a common good.’ In social science: ‘interconnected networks of relationships between individuals and groups (…), levels of trust that characterize these ties, and resources or benefits that are both gained and transferred by virtue of social ties and social participation.
Social sustainability

‘The ability of a community to develop processes and structures which not only meet the needs of its current members but also support the ability of future generations to maintain a healthy community.’ In designing for spatial health, social sustainability is primary to economic, environmental and cultural sustainability: taking care of an individual and a community enables the individual and the community to care for the economy, environment and culture.

Spatial design

‘A relatively new conceptual design discipline that crosses the boundaries of traditional design specialisms such as architecture, landscape architecture, landscape design, interior design and service design as well as certain areas of public art. It focuses upon the flow of people between multiple areas of interior and exterior environments and delivers value and understanding in spaces across both the private and public realm. The emphasis of the discipline is upon working with people and space, particularly looking at the notion of place, also place identity and genius loci.’
Spatial health

Pertaining aspects of space that affect human health, such as materiality, relation of daylight and shadow, proportions, relation of freedom and safety and social encounters. Also considered as a relation of place and health, investigating aspects such as pollution and community belonging, or as representation to epidemiology, population health and health services.
Sustainable design

‘Sustainable design (…) is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability.’ Respect-based principles of sustainable design (McLennan 2004) include respect for wisdom of natural systems, people, place, cycle of life, energy and natural resources, and respect of process.
WELL Building Standard by WELL Building Institute IWBI is the first building standard focusing exclusively on how buildings can improve human health and wellness. The standard consists of seven features of wellness in built environments: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.

‘The state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous.’

‘The quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal.’ ‘A healthcare system focused on wellness, not sickness.’

© Raven & Wood Agency, 2018.