Friday, August 25, 2017

News: Lynne M. Dearborn contributes two chapters in Health and Well-being for Interior Architecture, published summer 2017 by Taylor and Francis.*

Associate Professor Lynne M. Dearborn’s essay, “Traditional and Alternative Approaches to Health and Well-being,” is the lead essay in the recently published book, Health and Well-being for Interior Architecture (Taylor and Francis, June 2017), a first of its kind book addressing the intersection of environmental design and health. The book’s authors include scholars and professionals from fields such as architecture, construction, epidemiology, policy and law, who ask readers to consider climate, geography, and culture alongside human biology, psychology, and sociology when investigating ways to improve human health and well-being.

Conceptions of health and wellness vary greatly around the world owing to cultural and contextual variations. Likewise, beliefs about the many dimensions of the environment and how these influence health and wellness differ cross culturally. How we design and redesign the physical, social, and psychological aspects of the environment to achieve good health and superior quality of life depends on recognizing that concepts of health and wellness inspire multiple meanings for different people. Discussing a range of examples from diverse culture and life-style groups, “Traditional and Alternative Approaches to Health and Well-being,” examines beliefs about health, wellness, and environmental influences. This precedes and structures the presentation of a framework useful for designers and builders of the environment as they seek to plan, accommodate, and promote health and wellness within their projects. This framework highlights specific words and ideas related to health and wellness that can be operationalized during the design and construction process.

With co-authors Takemi Sugiyama (Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia) and Neville Owen (Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia), Dearborn’s second essay, “Designing to Confront the Adverse Health Impacts of Workplace Sitting,” addresses a newly identified health risk, prolonged time spent sitting, and the implications for design of office environments. Given that much of adults’ daily sitting time is accrued in workplace and domestic contexts, there is a need to better understand the sitting-related attributes of these indoor environments.

This essay highlight new evidence from epidemiological and experimental research demonstrating that prolonged unbroken sitting, as distinct from doing too little exercise, can increase risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. Reducing indoor sedentary behaviors is thus a preventive-health priority, for which an understanding of factors influencing how long people sit in these indoor environments is needed. This chapter introduces a perspective intended to provide a concise, yet cogent approach to identifying new opportunities for research and practice. To do so, it first introduces the “behavior settings” construct from ecological psychology, which emphasizes how the attributes of environments can mandate or promote certain behaviors and discourage others. In this context, the authors suggest the utility of a ‘routes’ and ‘destinations’ model applied to behavior-setting to identify attributes with potential influence on length of time spent in seated activities. The chapter provides examples from recent research studies and considers how these may function at the micro-level of indoor environments -- particularly the workplace setting.

Since designers play such a pivotal role in human interaction with interior and architectural design, Health and Well-being for Interior Architecture sheds light on the importance of a designer’s attention to health and well-being while also acknowledging the ever-changing built environment. Through various viewpoints, and over 30 images, this book guides designers through ways to create and develop designs to improve occupants’ health and well-being.

* Some summary content abstracted from the book as published.