Promoting mental health and wellbeing in apartments
One property development trend that will continue well beyond today, is the importance of considering resident mental health and wellbeing in apartment design. It has long been thought that poor apartment design – insufficient space, restrictive layouts, poor sound proofing, lighting and privacy – can play a part in resident mental health and good developers incorporate a range of design protocols and features to address this.
Sustainability forms one of Erben’s key principles is defined by the development of resilient and energy-efficient buildings that actively place the wellbeing of people and communities at their heart.
The health benefits of contact with green spaces are widely accepted, with studies showing that living in areas with grass and trees has been linked to lower risk of a number of health conditions as well as positive mental health.
One of the hallmarks of Erben developments is a connection with nature and “bringing the outside in” to their apartments. With greenery in urban spaces known to be critical to our mental and physical wellbeing, it is a priority that our apartments incorporate greenery and provide a peaceful home environment through this connection with nature. Not only does this provide a sense of wellbeing to apartment residents by softening the urban environment, it also plays a very functional role, providing privacy screening and ensuring residents can enjoy downtime when at home.
Amenity is not just about how people live within the walls of their apartment, it’s also about the relationships formed with other residents. Erben prides itself on creating spaces in its developments where people can come together as a community.
Recent research conducted with a group of Cirque residents showed the two things that delighted them the most about living at Cirque were the location and the community that had formed. Having opportunities for social interaction and getting to know other people in the development was seen as a positive and something that had enhanced their lifestyle and enjoyment of apartment living.
Whilst apartments can provide the opportunity to be part of a community that often forms around the residents, that doesn’t mean they have to compromise on privacy or mean seeing people when they really don’t want to. At Erben, we utilise design that ensures our apartments facilitate both – communal spaces that bring people together when they seek interaction, and private outdoor areas that can be enjoyed without being overlooked or observed by neighbours. It should be the resident’s choice as to when and where they engage with other residents.
As observed by David Krantz, Treehouse resident:
“With the design of this apartment, we don’t feel like we have near neighbours. We have privacy and our own small garden, but we enjoy all the benefits that come from low maintenance, security, everything we need on our doorstep and these high windows that bring in the light.”
It is well established that lighting impacts human health in a variety of ways including influencing sleep patterns, the ability to learn and be productive and influencing mental health generally. Natural light has immense benefits for health and wellbeing. Not only is sunlight the major way in which we receive Vitamin D, natural light can also enhance mood and sleep quality.
A well-lit space promotes positivity and energy with the added benefit of requiring less artificial lighting and energy use. Good development will consider how artificial and natural light interact to provide an optimal outcome to residents from both a functional and wellbeing perspective.
Natural light can be delivered into apartments with large windows, with design considering the apartment aspect and how light changes at different times of the day and year, while artificial light needs to consider the different uses of space and how best to supplement natural light during the day, ensuring sleep patterns and mental health are not adversely affected in the evening.
Natural ventilation is an important component of apartment design and good design results in healthy, naturally comfortable and more energy efficient apartments, as shown in a number of studies. Erben incorporates natural ventilation as much as possible, which also contributes to the 5-star Green-star rating of many of its developments.
Noise from neighbours is one of the greatest concerns when considering apartment living for the first time. Good sound insulation is vital to ensure resident wellbeing isn’t compromised – people don’t want to be bothered and stressed by the noise from neighbours or be woken from sleep by noise. Thick walls and protection via good insulation are essential as are double-glazed windows and doors.
Moving into an apartment shouldn’t mean people can’t take their pet companions with them. Many apartments today have pet-friendly facilities such as dog-washing areas and even internal spaces for exercising. Pets are also a great way to meet other apartment residents when out exercising, adding to the sense of community.
Walkability and Access
Access to outdoor space and nature also has a significant impact on wellbeing. Walkable access to local natural spots such as a park, the river or the ocean are important so the natural surrounds can be enjoyed whilst exercising.
When combined, these factors can have a significant impact on personal wellbeing and mental health and are important considerations when buying an apartment.