Mishio / Healing Homes

Healing Homes A Search for a Future Home that Fosters Holistic Wellbeing

Author: Rose-Ann Mishio, Politecnico di Milano

Supervisor: Alessandro Rocca, Professor Dr., (Polimi), AUID, DAStU, Politecnico di Milano

Research stage: Initial doctoral stage

Category: Paper


The housing of today has been confronted with concurrent design challenges of not being ageing friendly and associated with poor wellbeing. With Europe’s population ageing faster than the average global population on one hand, and the growing societal need to focus on wellbeing on the other, it has become expedient that the home design is reconsidered. Since Europeans are approaching ageing and disability as a collective crisis in an era where the home design is not child-friendly or promoting wellbeing, what kind of homes should we design and build?

Although, housing typologies like care homes, retirement homes, co-housing and intergenerational housing are being explored, and other strategies like design health maps and guidelines have been introduced, these approaches either focus on aspects of wellbeing or do not include all people in design considerations, thus is incomplete. Therefore, the research hypothesis is that for a resilient future, home designs must be rethought to cater for everyone; irrespective of age or health status and promote wellbeing at the same time - what the research refers to as a healing home.

The position taken is that the architectural design of the homes of tomorrow must strive to go beyond building codes and preventing ill-health into one that is deliberate in considering all ages and abilities, and nudges towards wellbeing on the whole. The aim of the research is therefore to search for ‘how’ to design for holistic wellbeing for all, in a way that fosters ageing in place, inclusivity and healthy living.

As an exploratory research, it is structured into six phases. It starts off with posing this question to scientific literature where it focuses on wellbeing and inclusivity in spatial terms (Phase I), analysing case studies from the discipline of architecture and design (PhaseII), Reformulation and manipulation of the design characteristics deduced from literature(Phase III), posing the question to architects and designers through interviews and surveys (PhaseIV), a design workshop (Phase V) and an architectural project of designing a home in the European context using knowledge drawn out from phases one to four as a testbed in three possible areas; adaptation to an existing housing design, a new typology or a hybrid building (Phase VI).

Keywords: Homes, Wellbeing, Architecture Design