Create ‘opportunity for discovery’
It might seem frivolous, but Mock encourages builders not to discount the value of mystery in a design. Design elements that invite inspection, “like cozy corners, can be something that also bring a mental health benefit because there’s an opportunity for discovery,” she explained.
Those opportunities for discovery are especially important in spaces where young children will be spending time.
Designing spaces that can be enjoyed by everyone requires a focus on balancing different needs.
“One of the first things we look to do when we’re designing for very young children is to get windows for indoor spaces as close to the ground as we can, with reasonable design for water and snow and things like that,” she said. Older kids benefit from vertical change: “more climbing space or more levels of a deck.” Navigating stairs or steep inclines can be daunting to older people, though.
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Removing barriers is key to creating welcoming spaces for homeowners and their guests. Even if builders and designers aren’t thinking about ADA requirements in a residential space the way they would for a commercial building, making homes more accessible benefits everyone.
“There’s just a thought process about making things more universally accessible,” Mock said. “It’s easier for the young mom with the stroller just as it is for when grandma and grandpa come to visit, right?”
Is the green wave receeding?
Better technology and newer ideas around green building would seem to support a boom for builders and architects who want to create sustainable designs for their clients. However, Kari-elin Mock of Cuningham Group wonders if things are changing.
Mock noted that among some clients, from homeowners to business owners, interest in sustainability “has waned, even as their awareness about healthy environments has increased.”