Danish Architecture: Hygge and Northern Exposure

Almost 20 years ago, I had the pleasure of studying architecture in Copenhagen, Denmark. Some of the lessons learned there have stuck with me to this day, and I am particularly reminded of them on these cold, wintry days. 


Danes Know How to Hygge

Copenhagen Denmark. A couple of things that really stick out in my memory are 1) the perpetual rain, cold, and dank terrible weather and 2) the relief of retreating to a warm, cozy inside. Now the relief of shedding wet boots, coat, hat, and gloves inside a warm building is something that most of us in the North East can related to. However, I’m talking about something more. Much more. I’m talking about good food, great drinks, and happy friends, all bundled into a cozy atmosphere. I’m talking about my experience with Hygge.

Danish design influence


So, what is

Hygge? Well, it’s a Danish word that has no direct translation in English. It’s been described as “the art of creating intimacy” and “coziness of the soul”. I’m here to say that it’s not just the latest Instagram hashtag. It’s for real. Here’s how I experienced the architecture in Copenhagen: exteriors are pretty simple, clean lines, maybe a splash of color here or there, but fairly unremarkable. It’s the interiors that the Danes pour all their efforts into: selecting furniture, carefully lighting each room, adding pillows, blankets, tables and candles to create a sense of comfort and ease. For lighting, diffuse is the name of the game. Harsh, high contrast light will have everyone squinting in confusion (or more likely annoyance). Much like a southern exposure. Wait, what?


Unlearning Sunlight Lessons

In the US we’re taught to position windows for southern exposure to maximize sunlight. But that’s not what the Danes-who-live-in-perpetual-darkness-most-of-the-year do. They prefer a northern exposure. Here’s why:

Southern exposure lets a lot of light in, but it’s more direct, meaning very high contrast. You end up squinting in your kitchen from the bright light reflecting off your counter-tops, while the sink area is bathed in shadow. On the other hand, windows with a northern exposure cast even lighting over the entire room, especially when the windows are floor to ceiling or placed high up on the wall.

northern exposure with floor to ceiling windows


Danish Design Influence

The biggest lesson I took away from Copenhagen and integrated into my design practice is this: exteriors are easy, interiors matter most. Interiors are where people are. At LEAP we spend the majority of our design time on interior spaces, really thinking about the use and feel. When it comes down to it, we humans spend 90% of our time inside, even if the weather here is better than Denmark. So, raise a cup of hot cocoa and light a candle. I hope your day is a little more Hyggelig as we finish out February.


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Permit Set Fires Up Greek Restaurant

Transforming a commercial space—like office to restaurant—requires a permit set to obtain a building permit.  In this story, we helped The Taverna Greek Restaurant obtain their building permit, so they could open their doors faster. 


Open for Business

Congratulations! You’re opening a business, or moving to a better location. You found the perfect spot with plenty of foot traffic. What’s next? Well, in most cases, you need to acquire a building permit from your local town or city. And, in order to get a building permit, you need….a permit set.

What exactly is a permit set, and what goes into it?

A permit set is a set of very basic drawings stamped by a licensed architect. These drawings show the approximate size and shape of the space,  the mechanical, electrical, plumbing systems, and how each system is sized/positioned to meet code. The building department reviews the permit set, and once satisfied, will issue a building permit.

It’s important to understand that the permit set is only for obtaining the building permit. It does not actually communicate any specific information to enable a builder to build it. So if you’re a DIY contractor, or working with a builder on a design/build project, we can provide this set of drawings, stamped by our licensed architect, with a pretty fast turn-around time.

This is what we did for our friends over at The Taverna Greek Restaurant in Albany. They needed to convert an office space into a restaurant, which also had existing apartments above. The space layout had to meet code as a kitchen (cooking equipment), with ventilation, bathroom accessibility and additional fire-wall protection. The Taverna has been up and running for well over a year now, so go check them out for a tasty lunch outing. They are located at  38 S Pearl St, Albany, NY 12207.


Eric Davenport and the owner of Taverna Greek Restaurant. LEAP provided the permit set for change of use & obtaining a building permit.


Examples of Considerations for the Restaurant Permit Set

  • Accessibility requirements
  • Plumbing reconfigurations
  • Mechanical reconfigurations
  • Exhaust and make-up-air must be balanced to the BTUs of the cooking equipment
  • Collaborate with vendors to design ANSIL fire extinguishers
  • Grease trap per code requirements
  • Plumbing and mechanical configurations
  • Exterior building shell penetrations and weatherization
Fire protection
  • Fire rated floor and walls
  • Fire protection higher because of existing building with apartments above


Contact us for a commercial permit set. We show all local codes and requirements right on the plans. This helps you sail through the permitting process.

If you are interested in capitalizing on our design prowess, construction drawings are what you really want! Take a tour of one of our fully designed residences.

Mission Driven: Core Physical Therapy

LEAP Architecture designed Core Physical Therapy’s new treatment center with the same holistic approach they use for clients. Core is a great example of how smart designs help mission driven companies fulfill their purpose. 


Physical Therapy on a Mission

John Murphy is mission drive to provide holistic physical therapy

John Murphy founded Core Physical Therapy to fill a void. A disconnect. He was working for a corporate company where patient-needs just weren’t being met. John knew his patients deserved better. He could do better.

Founding Core in 2001, John made it his mission to help people regain a healthy and pain free body using a holistic, patient-centered approach. Core’s outstanding patient care is reflected in their success. They currently have a team of 15 therapists and a brand-new, purpose-designed facility by LEAP Architecture.

Core is a place patients can count on for great care by understanding staff. It’s a place where patients get better—better than they dreamed possible.  -John Murphy

Mission Driven Design

core physical therapy treatment room

When John called LEAP on December 23, 2017, he was in a little bit of a crunch. His out-of-state design firm was letting him down on some key issues. The major one being—they couldn’t provide design drawings—which are required for permitting and building.  Eric worked like a sugar-fueled elf (well, green tea), readying plans for approval. He got permit set together, changed the design to meet code, rearranged the space to add 5 additional treatment rooms, and updated the lighting using photometrics. John not only received the permit set he needed, the 5 “extra” treatment rooms mean greater availability to his clients and a faster ROI for John’s investment.


Cafe con Therapycore physical therapy opted for a waiting area with a cafe style and feel

As a way to further promote John’s client-center approach, he opted for a cafe-style reception area. Clients are served tea and coffee in comfortable chairs. The warm, burnt-orange accent walls were inspired by his favorite restaurant. In this more social and relaxed setting, staff can interact differently with clients during intake, which allows them to learn more and be more successful in their treatment.

Another positive aspect of this socialibility is referrals.  Referrals and networking are Core’s strongest business generators.

Core’s new space also includes a full-size gym, storage lockers, and office break-room. The interior finishes tie in with the brick building shell, for a comfortable, yet hip vibe. Visit them for yourself! Core Physical Therapy. I think one of John’s therapists sums it up nicely;

The work environment is one of constant learning and growing and I am very excited to be part of the Core team. -Steven Stokes


Take a video tour of LEAP’s recent projects.

Architecture & the Triple Bottom Line

What’s a Triple Bottom Line, you ask? Simply put, it refers to companies regarding people, planet, and profit in equal measure. 


B-Corporations & Triple Bottom Line

LEAP Architecture is a mission driven company. We help people better their lives through great design, while facilitating environmentally responsible living. And we’re not the only ones.

Treating people and the environment with care is not a new idea. It can be argued that this practice has been around a long, long time. Native American culture comes to mind. On the other hand, there is no shortage of companies we might characterize as money-worshiping, cut-throat, business pirates.

Thankfully, the tide is turning and more companies are taking a stand on their vales. In 2006, B Lab established itself as rating agency for businesses working to be a force for good (1). In other words, they created a method to value businesses based on their greater societal and environmental impacts. It’s akin to being certified organic in the coffee industry.

B Corp companies are mission driven. They demonstrate, and are transparent about their internal company values. This can be extended to working with values-driven-vendors, such that like-minded entities can partner and collaborate together.(2) Like LEAP!

The B Corp movement is one of the most important of our lifetime, built on the simple fact that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders—it has an equal responsibility to the community and to the planet.
Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia

Mission Driven Companies

We’ll just come out and say it. We LOVE working with mission driven companies. We are really good at helping them enhance their visions through architecture. Some of our previous posts touch on the many ways that building design helps inform company culture, employee health, and client behavior.

Architecture that promotes people, planet and profits is a complex process. LEAP’s design approach sets us apart from other firms. Our method helps clients articulate their goals for the look, feel and function of the space. Their inspiration, combined with our guidance create beautiful spaces.

We’re here to guide you. LEAP can help your organization fulfill its mission driven goals. We’re humbled by the companies out there making a difference in the world. We’re honored to help them do it better.

Contact us – We’d love to help you meet your triple bottom line!

Savvy Shipping Container Storage

LEAP Architecture designed a quick and easy shipping container storage for KOBO Candles to provide more room for their expanding business. 


Shipping containers were originally intended for the purpose of storing goods during long transits, so it makes sense that they are designed to be water tight and durable.  That combined with the ability to lock them up, offers security and safe storage from the elements. Shipping containers have been used for everything from low-cost housing to swimming pools (by cutting the top off). So, it’s certainly not a stretch to use one of these containers for stationary storage. Here we offer a few tips for making your shipping container storage more permanent and attractive.


Giving Your Shipping Container Legs

Permanent structures require a method to secure them to the ground with posts or a foundation. Luckily, there is a quick and easy solution that does not require a backhoe or even a post-hole digger; may I present the Techno Metal Post.techno metal posts used as easy foundation solution for shipping container storage

The Techno Metal Post helical pile is like a giant metal screw that is installed by a certified technician using proprietary hydraulic machinery.  The helical pile is constructed with a hollow steel tube and a thick helix made of high quality steel which can support upwards of 50,000 pounds per pile. The pier is augered into the ground until the desired bearing capacity is achieved. (source: Techno Metal Post of Albany)


Attractive Storage

To make the container more attractive and get a little advertising mileage, LEAP designed a large vinyl decal to cover the entire side of the shipping container storage box. The decal features the company name “KOBO” with a patterned background from one of their modern candle designs.

LEAP Architecture designed a quick and easy shipping container storage for KOBO Candles to provide more room for their expanding business.

It’s important to note that this container is not climate controlled, so only materials such as shipping supplies (label, boxes, packing materials) and the glass candle holders will be stored here. Temperature sensitive items like wax would not be appropriate due to the risk of melting in the summertime. Containers can be climate controlled – think refrigeration of bananas at 57 deg, but it’s an extra expense if you don’t need it.

Overall, the design and “construction” for this storage solution would be 2 days, not including the time to receive the container. The container can be easily accessed by either adding a metal ramp up to the doors or by using a pallet jack to load and unload.

Zoning and permitting are generally required. Check your local building ordinance.




Healthier Workplace: Enhanced Business Culture

Architectural design plays a large part in workplace psychology and enhanced business culture. It helps define everything from company culture and ethics, to employee productivity.

Psychology of Design

 “Environmental psychology explores the parameters and variables that might alter one’s mood, behavior, productivity, effectiveness, and attitude.” Irving Weiner, AIA, & Environmental Psychology Professor

Have you ever walked into an office, or store and felt like, “Ahh, this is a place I want to be”? Maybe you’re not even sure why, but your subconscious had evaluated the space and given its stamp of approval, even before your rational brain has caught up.

This non-verbal communication is important for a how a commercial space (be it storefront, office, apartment building) speaks to both its customers and employees. A healthy workplace design will impact the company identity (design of space), help define the company culture, and reflect its ethics. But not only that, it influences how people behave. Sound important? We think so.

commercial architect enhanced business culture - artistic

Lounge area for photographer’s studio

But you might ask, how do we know this? Well, the field of environmental psychology studies how everything around us—our spaces, our buildings, our cities, and our landscape—make us feel and behave.

According to Dave Alan Kopec (New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego),  it’s “the study of human relations and behaviors within the context of built and natural environments.” (1)

This knowledge of behavior modification is a powerful tool, which we as architects, use to create results for our clients. What kind of results? Well, in an office setting, this can lead to improvements in employee productivity, while for retail locations, purposeful design should lead to higher sales. In a healthcare environment, it could mean faster healing and shorter hospital stays. We’re talking tangible, measurable results!

“The goals are to integrate environmental factors such as HVAC, illumination, color, art, and ergonomics into the unconscious mind, so that one’s perception is positive; which in turn shall motivate one to be more effective in academia, in the community, and in the workforce.” Irving Weiner

Healthier Workplace: Enhanced Business Culture

So if this is known, and out there, why are so many office-type building still so…. blah? Well, according to Mike Bahr, it’s because most modern offices are solely considered as a cost, rather than a performance driver. They go for so called “functional” considerations, like let’s cram as many people in as possible, and one-size fits all workstations.

Don’t get us wrong, functionality is incredibly important, but designing based on the narrow definition of function misses so many opportunities. We like to incorporate all aspects of what we consider to be functionality, which includes how our clients want to encourage their clients/employees to behave and feel.

corporate office architect designs schematic for GE Battery plant new offices to enhanced business culture

Corporate office space for General Electric

And each situation is different. A highly collaborative office culture may need more shared workstations, meeting spaces, lounge areas, while a control culture is more suited to formal, individual spaces. It all starts with a) the “recognition of space as a way to support productivity and company goals”, b) defining the goals for behaviors and company culture, and c) letting the architect synergize all the elements in to a design that delivers.

How is your commercial space supporting your goals? We’ve helped all types of companies from corporate offices, to salons, and professional studio spaces  to enhanced business culture. Take a look at some of our projects and see how we can help you!


Want a Healthier Workplace? Try Architecture.

Creating a healthier workplace can cover many topics. Do we mean air quality of the building, employee satisfaction or the business bottom line? Yes, yes, & yes. Read on to learn how LEAP’s designs can holistically improve the health and productivity of your business. 


Happiness is a Key Ingredient in Healthier Workplace

If your employees wake up in the morning and think to themselves, “Another day at the fart-factory”, Milton in the basement, a poor example of business health(which is what my father snidely referred to the high school where he taught), maybe your space needs a little moral boost. So what goes into employee moral?

Well, job satisfaction and  purpose are two of the big ones touted regularly. But we have a suspicion that even with all the purpose in the world, if you stick someone down in the window-less basement with Milton, their job satisfaction will be taken away, just as sure as his stapler.

Why should you care about your employees’ happiness? Well, in a 2010 review, Brent D. Rosso, PhD showed that having job purpose increased motivation, engagement, empowerment, career development, job satisfaction, individual performance and personal fulfillment, and decreased absenteeism and stress (Research in Organizational Behavior, 2010). Furthermore, organizations directly benefit from workers who are invested in their jobs, as they are most likely to build new products and services, attract new customers and drive innovation (Gallup, 2013).

Okay, so happy employees need job satisfaction, job purpose, and a great environment. Jane E. Dutton, PhD, a professor at University of Michigan can help your employees find meaning in their work; Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace, 2013.

LEAP Architecture will show you 6 important design concepts, creating spaces where people can’t wait to get to work!


LEAP’s 6 Concepts for a Healthier Workplace

healthier workplace - aspects of a healthy building environment


Healthier Workplace: Increased Productivity

The 6 concepts above, work together to increase employee productivity and also client satisfaction. When employees feel better, they take fewer sick days and are more excited about their jobs. Did we mention that even Walmart redesigned their stores to incorporate skylights?

Good design reduces workplace stressors, such as:

  • Sick building syndrome – where mold, pollen, material off-gassing and  bioeffluence can build up
  • Poor lighting – where space feel confined and may be too dim, create glare, or have flickering fluorescent lights
  • Temperature gradients – sweltering or freezing, neither is comfortable
  • Noise – where it sound like your co-worker is sitting inside your cubicle, or sound from machinery

Good news, LEAP isn’t alone in this mission of business health. There are at least 2 programs out there, International WELL Building Institute and Fitwel, offering guidance and certification for healthy building. The other good news is that LEAP’s commitment to human and environmental health is already built into our design approach!


How does your business environment stack up? If there are some areas that could use improvement, give us a call. We can help.


5 Benefits of a Happy, Healthy Home, Part 2

Energy efficiency never felt so good! In our last post, we discussed how great home design can enhance family life, along with your sleeping, eating, bathing and lifestyles. If you missed it, pop over and have a read. This week, we delve into the last 3 design considerations on our list (daylight, air quality and energy), and how they can be leveraged to make a happy & healthy home!

Just to refresh, we consider all of the following aspects in LEAP’s Residential Designs.

How to:

  • Enhance Family Life
  • Enhance Sleeping, Eating, Bathing and Living Lifestyles
  • Increase Daylight
  • Promote Healthy Indoor Air
  • Increase Energy Efficiency

Healthy Home: Increased Daylight

You have probably experienced for yourself the sense of well being you get from a little sunshine. It can improve your mood, stimulate your circadian rhythm, and make you feel more connected to the outdoors.Daylight, Southern Exposure Passive Solar Design, Healthy Home Design

Sunlight is energizing. Getting a good dose during the day helps you feel more alert, and can also be beneficial for a good nights rest. It also helps keep seasonal affective disorder at bay.

And let’s face it, in the North East, we’re all trying to get as much sunlight as we can. During the day, natural lighting makes rooms feel cleaner, more spacious, and more comfortable than electric light. It’s also a free source of illumination, which plays into energy efficiency. Natural light will animate spaces and can create drama and diversity.

Windows with high head heights provide more access to daylight by an increased sky view (which is particularly important in dense neighborhoods) and better daylight distribution in the room.


Healthy Home: Indoor Air Quality

No doubt you’ve heard reports of smog, and the really poor air quality in some developing nations, but A healthy home design incorporates natural light, good air quality, energy efficiency, and family life. have you stopped to consider the air purity inside your house?

We as Americans, spend a lot of time inside, and all that time is spent, well, breathing. So where do these nasty bits come from? Most you could guess, but some may be a surprise.

Particulates – pets fur and dander, pollen, mold spores

VOC – cleaning products, paint, paint remover, furniture or building products such as flooring, carpet, pressed wood products, kids arts supplies

Bioeffluents – people give off toxins, such as breathing (CO2), skin shedding, bacteria loads

Eww. So before you accuse everything and everyone in your house for being polluters, let us tell you how we can help. Tightly sealed houses (as discussed below) have a very low rate of air change, meaning, a means of mechanical ventilation is required to remove stale air and provide fresh air. These mechanical ventilation systems are designed to be very energy efficient, and what’s better is that we install HEPA filters inline, which does the job of filtering out those nasty bits that make you sick.

Reducing particulates, VOC, and bio effluents means relief from allergies, congestion, better sleep, and reduced eye irritation. Ventilation systems also reduce mold in moist areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, which is definitively something that makes a healthy home.

What’s important to note, is not all home designers incorporate this system for ventilation and filtering, but LEAP does!


Healthy Home: Increased Energy Efficiency

Lowering heating and cooling bills is one way to put a smile on your face! The even better news? Energy LEAP design for this healthy home, modern addition was awarded most innovative and creative by the Capital District Builders Assocationefficiency is tied into all of the life enhancing design considerations we’ve already discussed. When working with LEAP, efficiency is an added bonus—we already build it into all we do.

Why? Well, LEAP is Passive House Certified (we have a whole series of posts explaining), but in a nutshell, it means that your house is designed and built to operate with very minimal energy input. So even if you don’t intend to go for Passive House Certification, we drawn upon those principles in all our work.

This is especially important for new home construction. In October 2016, the New York State requirements for building sealing were upgraded to an ACH50 of 3 . This means 3 air changes or less per hour, which requires the installation of a whole house ventilation system (per ASHRAE standards). If you are interested in more specifics on how air changes are measured using blower tests, check our our post on air sealing.

Are you considering a new home or addition? Leverage LEAP’s design expertise to make the most of your new happy and healthy home.

5 Benefits of Designing a Happy, Healthy Home

More and more families and businesses are recognizing the value of designing for health, and working with architects like LEAP to create happier homes and more productive businesses. You probably spend a significant amount of time in your home, but is that affecting your health for better or worse? Check out 5 ways we design to ensure a healthy home, which also makes you feel great!


5 Benefits of a Happy, Healthy Home

Feel better, save money, and add more of that je ne sais que to your day. Sound good? We think so. LEAP’s design process was developed to truly understand and enhance your family’s goals, dynamics, and needs. We gather information and then custom design your space, while working to save you money in the construction phase, and long-term on utilities.

How do we do that?

We consider all of the following aspects in LEAP’s Residential Designs.

How to:

  • Enhance Family Life
  • Enhance Sleeping, Eating, Bathing and Living Lifestyles
  • Increase Daylight
  • Promote Healthy Indoor Air
  • Increase Energy Efficiency

For today, let’s look at some of the specific ways design can enhance your life with respect to enhanced family life, and living lifestyles.


Enhanced Family LifeEric Davenport Architect

Architecture, whether or not we realize it, can shape our relationships with each other and our environment, through space, form, and materials. How? By creating interactive settings—places to congregate, or just making it difficult to avoid each other. For example, designing so the stairs to the upper floor bedrooms cannot be accessed from the front hallway. This directs everyone to pass through the main living space, creating more opportunity for family interaction, as opposed to a straight bee-line upstairs. More open floor plans, or the use of L-shaped interlocking rooms can also creative a sense of connectedness, even when family member are technically in a different “room”. Increased human interactions improve our sense of well-being, enrich our lives, make them healthier and more pleasurable.


“The shaft of sunlight in a recessed window seat that creates a moment of warmth and calm, combined with a glimpse of nature, soft and acoustically absorbent seat materials, and the tactile delight of the smooth grip to adjust a wooden shutter.


Our well-being is intimately linked with such moments of delight. To an extent, such stimuli happen all the time, often without being recognized or designed, but when they are orchestrated throughout a building the effect is cumulative.” –Koen Steemers, D&A Magazine issue 23 by VELUX


Enhanced Sleeping, Eating, Bathing and Living Lifestyles


Healthy Home: Sleeping

The design of the bedroom can make or break a good night’s sleep. Naturally, light plays an important role for sleep cycles. A good dose of morning light will stimulate the circadian rhythm and help you feel more awake. Conversely, at night, bedrooms should have effective blackout options to support total darkness. This can be achieved using thermal shutters (for cold periods) and/or with adjustable louvers (for secure night time ventilation in warm conditions).

The bedroom shown at the right was designed as part of a master suite addition. It has an open floor plan between the bedroom and the bathroom, with a partial wall that creates a sense of boundary. The openness of the space allows sunlight to permeate far into the bedroom space, which gently illuminates the space in the morning. By afternoon, the space is so bright, no additional illumination is required.  The white walls, ceiling and floor tile provide a sense of calm, spaciousness, and airiness. The wood bed and headboard/partition ground the space for a restful sleep.


Healthy Home: EatingKitchen design that promotes family cooking and eating together as part of a healthy home

And for tonight’s kitchen performance… A good strategy for healthy, community eating is to create a sense of theater related to cooking. This can be achieved through designing in accessible counter-tops and seating, allowing for both spectating and participating (like the breakfast bar with stools shown to the right). To further support communal eating, (and the social interactions that result) the dining area should be adjacent to the kitchen, making an easy transition from preparation to eating enjoyment. (Read how LEAP used Ikea cabinets to get this look)

Conversely, the TV area should further from the kitchen, limiting the temptation to mentally check-out and simply down your food, while watching reruns of Seinfeld.


Healthy Home: BathingModern bathroom renovation in white with clean lines helps promote a healthy home

Hopefully we do not need to go over the merits of good personal hygiene here, well, unless you have a teen that refuses to shower. Bathing and the family or master bath have so many functions. When washing, the surroundings should not only enable you to get clean, but to also mentally wash away the day. You should be able to both literally and figuratively cleanse yourself. Bathrooms should generally feel serene, have clean lines, streamline fixtures, which should be easy to keep clean, along with the proper amount of storage. The master bath shown to the left creates an ultra calming atmosphere, with its white and soft gray pallet, along with contemplative views of nature. (BTW, this addition won a design award).


Healthy Home: Living Lifestylessaratoga green architect

A thermal design strategy encompasses not only room temperature, but also radiant conditions, air movement, and thermal conduction of materials. We’re talking about things like sunlight, natural ventilation, and the feel of materials. Materials such as wood feel warm to the touch, while stone is cooling.

These various characteristics can be mixed and matched to create the mood for different rooms. A reading nook could comfortably warm, with ample sunlight and plenty of wood and fabric surfaces to create a cozy retreat. You may want your office to feel more stimulating—cooler both temperature and material-wise, minimal clean lines, with a good view outdoors for inspiration.

Sound is another important consideration. As with thermal design, different materials have different acoustic properties, which can be tailors to fit the space.  Within the home there are places where acoustic privacy is welcome, and spaces where room-to-room conversation is desired.

The great room shown on the right was designed with a mixture of materials (wood floors and beams, stone fireplace, metal staircase and rails) to be a stimulating, yet balanced space. The high ceiling creates an air of magnificence, while the natural materials (wood and stone) provide a grounding effect.


Are you considering an addition or building a new home? Leverage LEAP’s design expertise to make the most of your new happy and healthy home.

Architecture of Health. Design Your Way Happy.

Architecture of health. It feels good to look at incredible views, clean lines, minimal clutter, and that’s not all. More and more families and businesses are recognizing the value of designing for health, and working with architects like LEAP to create happier homes and more productive businesses. 

Architecture of Health

As we approach the end of January, let’s check in: what was your New Year’s Resolution? Was it to take control of your health? Maybe you already eat a pretty healthy diet, get exercise, and still feel like there’s a missing piece? Maybe it’s not you. It very well could be your environment that’s getting you down—home or work. And you’re not alone. Let’s take a look at how your environment can effect your health, for the better!


Design Impact on Home and Business

Okay, so you might be thinking, my house will never look anything like  Frank Loyd Wright’s Falling Water.  What does architecture really have to do with the success of my home and business? Well, design influences us everyday, in every way. Think of how a department store like Anthropology very carefully crafts their layout to provide their shoppers a highly curated experience. You can have this too! Below are some examples of how great design can influence your home and business.

LEAP’s Residential Designs:

  • Enhance Family Life
  • Enhance Sleeping, Eating, Bathing and Living Lifestyles
  • Increase Daylight (improved mood, circadian rhythm)
  • Promote Healthy Indoor Air (fewer allergies)
  • Increase Energy Efficiency (decrease heating and cooling bills)

LEAP’s Commercial Designs:

  • Improve Productivity (employees feel better, and have less sick days)
  • Enhances Business Culture (good design = good business)
  • Increase Daylight (decrease electric bills)
  • Promote Healthy Indoor Air
  • Increase Energy Efficiency

“That which surrounds us shapes our existence. We should therefore surround ourselves with beauty. In a beautiful environment, our fears, our nagging doubts, hold much less power than they do in an ugly environment.” – Alain de Bottom, founder of Living Architecture


What do you want to experience every day?

At home: You wake up refreshed, sunshine illuminates the kitchen, your house is clean and organized, none of your kids are suffering from allergies (even though spring is in full swing), and your morning routine rolls out effortlessly; your household moves as if in a choreographed dance. Have kids? Great! We have a lot of experience (personal and professional) designing for families and their dynamics.

At work: You have steady foot traffic all day, as people walking by immediately notice your storefront and want to know more. Once inside, the temperature is just right, the lighting is perfect and the layout moves them through the space,  where the story of your brand unfolds before their eyes. We have also helped many businesses improve their bottom line through creating curated customer experiences.       


Working with an architect like LEAP, you can be the curator of your own home, your own business. And that certainly doesn’t mean put everything behind glass, and with a do not touch sign. What fun is that?



Your Brain on Architecture

architecture of health - looking at contemplative views can have a meditation like effect on your brainOne of the studies that is helping to scientifically provide evidence of the architecture/brain connection is being conducted by Dr. Julio Bermudez. His work uses an fMRI to capture the effects of architecture on the brain when showing subject photos of contemplative and non-contemplative architectural structures. His preliminary results show that “contemplative architecture” (think churches, museums, ancient sites, building that make you go WOW), had effects on the brain, similar to that of a meditative state. (“The Brain on Architecture“, The Atlantic)

The presence of an external stimulus (the photos of the buildings) also removes the tedious self-regulation that occurs in the prefrontal cortex during traditional meditation. The interviews of the 12 subjects revealed that “peacefulness and relaxation, lessening of mind wandering, increasing of attention, and deepening of experience”. (ref)

The idea is that this type of research can be refined to help determine things like: the optimal ceiling heights for different cognitive functions; the best city design for  making way-finding easier; the ideal hospital layout to improve memory-related tasks in patients recovering from brain injuries; the influence of different types and quantities of light within a built space on mood and performance. Now that’s some architecture of health.


Health-Based Approaches to Design

Still curious? Let’s take a look at some research on the architecture of health.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recognizes  the profound impact that design decisions can have on human health for individuals and communities, which is why they started their Design and Health Initiative. One of the outcomes from a 2014 summit was the development of six evidence-based approaches designers can use to promote health and well-being:

1. Environmental quality: Preventing, mitigating and reversing chemical and microbial pollutants that harm public health

2. Natural systems: Utilizing natural forms, diverse species and existing ecosystems that relieve stress, accelerate recuperation, encourage healthy eating and promote physical and social activity

3. Physical activity: Encouraging exercise, recreation and other daily activities that lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems

4. Safety: Reducing accidental injury and crime to remove impediments to physical activity and alleviate anxiety and stress

5. Sensory environments: Diversifying the touch, smell and acoustics of an environment to promote safety, improve physical, mental and emotional well-being and enhance quality of life

6. Social connectedness: Strengthening personal and professional relationships and encouraging behaviors like civic participation to increase happiness and ensure communities function more effectively

Our next few posts will explore the impact on architecture of health as it specifically relates to homes and businesses.

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