Friday, October 28, 2011

Un-fat architecture

Could an enriched environment help turn white fat into brown fat? New research on mice is showing that there are 3 lifestyle changes that might trigger the biological processes that can make your body naturally burn fat instead of storing it. One is becoming more socially engaged, two is presenting yourself with new challenges and the third is staying physically active.

This points at a new challenge for architecture to create enriched environments that stimulate activity and social interaction. This goes against some existing ideas such as comfort, architecture will need to start integrate "obstacles" and discomfort that will stimulate us to take the healthy route. I.e. lifts should not be central and accessible in a building, they should be hidden, the staircase should be central and inviting so that people instinctively take the stairs.

A great example of architecture that stimulates conversation, social interaction and activity is the recently station Overvecht. It was redesigned to include a amphi-theater like seating arrangement and a slide.

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I also think that this example of a staircase by Droog at their Dry Tech exhibition is a great example of stimulating architecture.

Danish architects 3XN have thought about healthy architecture when they designed the Orestad college. The central staircase is so big that invites to social interaction right there on the staircase.
Orestad college by 3XN architects

The Japanese architects Arakawa and Gin have extended the idea and call their work reversible destiny architecture, architecture against death. In 2008 they build the destiny lofts in Tokyo in 2008. The apartments are full of challenges that stimulate physical activity, so that the simplest tasks may turn out to be physically demanding.

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