The moment lockdown began, people flocked to the outdoors, in parks and the great wildernesses of the world, and the lifting of those original mandates hasn’t don’t much to stymie it. As a result, facility managers and stakeholders have been looking for ways to better develop outdoor spaces to improve, not only safety measures for tenants and visitors, but also up the aesthetics of their properties. It’s been said many times over how biophilic design and fresh air factor into health and wellness, but little heard is the tale of how building water features can help boost wellness.
Chris Roy, director of creative design for OTL, has seen many times how water features can promote sustainability while delivering a calming, comforting experience to visitors on properties, and he has some insight into just how water can enhance an outdoor space.
Water features offer health and wellness benefits.
Plants are just a single aspect of biophilic design. Water, in particular moving water, is something that our bodies are biologically designed to respond to, with some biophilic circles believing that are body’s own internal rhythm moves to match that of water when we hear it.
According to Roy, “There is evidence that being near water lowers stress and obesity, improves mental and emotional health, and imbues a general sense of wellbeing.”
An example of this can be found at Halo, a next-generation food hall in downtown Los Angeles, California, whose water features OTL helped create with the help of the late artist Robert Graham. The pleasant sound of rushing water offers a great shield against the roar and hum of downtown city life, and these little sanctuaries are becoming more and more valuable as people seek to escape to a different state of mind when venturing out of their homes.
Stays are lengthened, and repeat visitors are encouraged.
It makes sense that if someone feels calm and comforted in a space, they’re more likely to stick around or even return to it after they’ve left. Think of how, even with restaurants and other indoor haunts returning to full function, people are still opting to go out to parks and nature. Now think of how water plays into that picture.
A well-choreographed water fountain, such as the one OTL helped create at Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo, California may create a setting where people are more inclined to linger, rest and enjoy the space that they are in as opposed to a simple, empty courtyard.
Outdoor water features promote sustainability.
Water features are ideal for promoting sustainability for a variety of reasons. The amenities lose less water to evaporation than lawns or planted areas and can even run on recycled water. Technology like LED lighting for nighttime illumination and VFD-driven pumps and remote control can also ensure the installations remain energy-efficient as well.
Water features can then be combined with building’s mechanical systems to function as heat sinks or cooling towers, reducing energy usage substantially.