People need and deserve more from the places they inhabit.

Have you ever heard of a sick building syndrome? 

It is an illness that person gets from living or working in a badly designed or poorly constructed building. We must not ignore the fact that many of our buildings are making us sick. Our society faces problems like sick-building syndrome. Seasonal affective disorder symptoms can often be exaggerated by the spaces we occupy. There is a global health crises associated with use of harmful chemicals in our living and working environment; we have a problem of noise pollution … we have a problem of light pollution in exteriors of our urbanised areas on one hand and on another hand problem with light hunger or light deprivation in interiors.

When the standards of our living conditions are lowered, we are affected. 

During COVID lock downs globally, many of us had to spend time in home isolation. It showed us, that many people live in the conditions that are not supportive of their well-being. It showed us that majority of homes are designed and constructed for commuting, where we are spending only several hours in them during the morning and evening. Suddenly, we are faced with the challenge to spend longer periods of time in an environment that often does not support us, does not help us to concentrate or to be productive, does not have sufficient space for family to interact or function, does not have connection to the outdoor space and is disconnected from nature. 

Photo Credit: Kristina Tripkovic @ Unsplash

It may come as a surprise but, spaces we live and work in, play a huge role in our behaviours. 

I would say, that they are partially the reason why we face challenges with how we problem solve. Our mental and physical well being is dependent on the environment we inhabit. Place can motivate or demotivate. It can reinforce your habits or help you facilitate change. It has an enormous impact on our wellbeing, on our performance, creativity, our state of mind. 

There is a feedback loop between spaces we occupy, their affect on our state of mind and lives we create. 

This infinite loop is delicate. It has been out of balance for many decades, gradually turning into downward spiral and will have disastrous consequences. We ought to learn from previous civilisations.

Cultivating our inner conditions through value driven, positive impact place making can deliver social impact that our world is in desperate need of. 

Too often our designs are EGO driven. Our buildings creations have for a long time been mostly PROFIT driven.

Photo Credit: Mathew Henry @ Unsplash

We need to redirect our focus from money making to creation of life affirming conditions and systems that bring vitality to the world. The same vitality that we all feel, when we are working towards fulfilling our dreams. 

We must not forget that social healing is an indispensable part of the ecological healing.

Fundamentally, no good solutions can be found if we are becoming more and more disconnected. 

First of all, our disconnect from natural world has caused an ecological derailment.

Every major ecological system has been disrupted by us and many are in decline. Our cities have perfected their war on nature, obliterating natural in favour of the artificial; reducing the country-side to bare localities that are to conform to urban priorities. Our cities are anti-thetical to the land. Our primary, horticultural communities and rural villages were superseded by overcrowded cities. Our agriculture has been industrialised, massified and globalised. Urban reality is primarily about trade and commerce. Very few of the city dwellers understand and appreciate our nearly total dependence on support from external areas for continued existence. 

Photo Credit: Xiang Ji @ Unsplash

Secondly, we are facing social divide because our disconnect between self and others.

Unfortunately the story of the Self, that economics and genetics have offered, asserting that people are fundamentally motivated by self-interest has been misleading. Basic human desires are for connection, community, beauty, love, affection and sense of belonging … Human beings need opportunities to express their gifts, express their love for live. 

But today we live in a world where all attention is on disruption, drama and despair. Where humans are seen as resources; human capital, with major focus on our productivity, where our lives are being mined for profit. We ought to recognise that how we care for ourselves is how we care for our world. 

Numbing out, avoidance and escapism may feel like ‘self-care’ but often serves not to nourish us but to further drain us and continue to perpetuate the very system we seek to dismantle. How many of us are waiting for the first opportunity to get away? Get away from the work we are doing, get away from the lives we are living, get away from the people we live with, get a way from the places we live in.

Could different world be possible? If we want a change we need to be that change. Perhaps starting with self leadership and becoming braver will enable us to embody the change we want to see. We need to tell a different story. There is no need for any of us to be special, it is enough to be yourself, be authentic, be compassionate, have empathy and encourage others. 

Caring about other beings, about life, about our planet is aboriginal to our humanness.

Thirdly, many of us are suffering spiritual poverty because of our disconnect from our inner self. 

A lot of challenges we face on the global scale have been created by ourselves. Human race is facing an existential threat! Not to our survival but to our identity. 

What non-human beings teach us, is that thriving is least about thinking and more about feeling. There is a deeper guidance, a whisper within, the impulse in the gut. We need to start to listen to our inner voice. We need to reconnect with our inner being, inner child. Perhaps we have been speaking the wrong language, seeking a change of mind when really what we need is a change of heart. 

Photo Credit: Aamir Suhail @ Unsplash

We are facing the biggest challenge yet to create better living environment. Environment, in which human beings can thrive and communities can flourish in balance with nature. We must rethink how we create our cities, towns, neighbourhoods, homes and offices, and all the spaces and infrastructure in between. This is part of the necessary process of reinventing our relationship with the natural world and each other—reestablishing ourselves as not separate from, but part of nature, “because the living environment is what really sustains us. ” As professionals in real estate, we have a collective responsibility to enhance our living conditions and enable them for all. We have a responsibility for what environment we design, for what structures we build, for what projects we finance and what spaces we promote and sell.

If you feel affected by the place you live in or work in and wish to improve it…