How architecture can address intentional and mindful living

Intentional and mindful living is everywhere now, and it is even applicable in architecture. That’s because, in general, people are tired of just existing. Intentional living means making conscious attempts to live according to your own personal values and beliefs and to be true to who you are. Mindfulness, on the other hand, means to pay attention and truly be in the moment. Together, in our opinion, the two concepts make for a life brimming with purpose, and we believe a home can help instil these things.

4 Ways in which a home can inspire intentional living and mindfulness:

1. Spatial layout, natural materials, and natural light

Open up and let the light in.

It is difficult to feel happy or creative in dark or gloomy spaces, wouldn’t you agree? Rooms that feel open and airy make us feel comfortable and productive. It is therefore no surprise that natural colours, materials, and light have been scientifically proven to boost our senses and cognitive abilities. By including these in a home design, architects can directly impact the occupants’ ability to connect with their surroundings.

2. Spaces in which to connect or reflect

Open up and let each other in.

Intentional living and mindfulness start with a better understanding and appreciation of ourselves. However, it most certainly doesn’t stop there. We share this planet and more practically, our homes with others. And as we all know, positive interpersonal relationships are important for us to thrive as human beings.

Architecture can help resolve friction by allowing for spaces in which to be quiet and alone, in addition to rooms that allow us to connect. An open plan layout, for example, is a great way to incorporate different activities in close proximity. A parent preparing a meal in the kitchen while a teenager does homework at the dining table can to some extent instil togetherness in a busy day.

3. Reconnecting with nature (biophilia)

Open up and let nature in.

Scientists have also proven that nature heals and restores us. It reduces blood pressure, destresses, and even improves cognitive function. Nature also reminds us of the bigger picture. Blurring the lines between the built and the natural environment through vistas of gardens and beyond are therefore a sure-fire way to encourage mindfulness and intentional living. This is just the beginning, though. Humans need to be able to fully immerse themselves in nature. Architects can help occupants experience nature by addressing other senses too, like sound and touch.

4. Sustainable living

Open up and let pro-environmental behaviour in.

It is hard to live (or aim to live) in a state of awareness and not think about our impact on nature. From making conscious attempts to pack a recycled shopper or a reusable coffee mug to investing in solar, harvesting rainwater, and growing our own vegetables – every act, no matter how small – matters. It is a working progress.

As professional architects in South Africa, we can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. We wholeheartedly believe that architects can no longer design without consequence. We, therefore, try to make the world a better place with the homes we design. Homes that instil happiness and health in the occupants that dwell in its walls, and homes that have a neutral to a positive effect on the surrounding environment.

Mindfulness and intentional living are so inspirational, and as an architectural studio, we live and design by these values.


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