Wellness and mental health

A history of mental health asylums in Ireland

A recent research project I completed involved analysing how spaces related to mental health treatment evolved in Ireland. Indeed, asylums were built in large quantities and were orginally inspired from prisons – also often mixing criminals and mentally ill patients in the first stages. Nowadays, health care has made major changes and so has the spaces in which we treat patients.

Current hospitals and care centres are aware of mental wellbeing, and designers take this into account to make a hard experience, a bit easier in a nicer space, such as the Bons Secours Hospital in Cork.

As this research piece is part of a current course, it is only available on request. It was incredibly interesting to understand where we came from and the changes that have been made – though there is still room for progress.

IWBI and Aoife Hayes, ARUP specialist advisor in Wellness

Incredibly grateful for the opportunity to interview Aoife Hayes, former CIT lecturer and advisor at Arup in the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). She contributes to managing projects in order to achieve WELL certificates in terms of wellness in buildings.

WELL is an internationally recognised standard, based on several principles : air, light, sound, community, water, movement, materials, innovation, nourishment, thermal comfort and mind, which all have to be taken under account in the design process with very strict guidelines.

I based my research thesis on the IWBI and the WELL standard to explore wellness in interior architecture, with a special interest in natural light, for my BSc Hons in Interior Architecture and this interview was very helpful.

Wellness in the workplace with Michelle Fogarty, from PepTalk.ie

I enjoyed a presentation of Pep Talk and well being by Michelle Fogarty at Republic of work, in October 2018. Pep Talk, in Dublin, provides advice and strategies to company to improve their employees’ well being and sense of community at work.

Read more….

The importance of natural light in generating well being in interior architecture (CIT Graduation thesis, 2019)

30,000 words thesis available on request. Abstract :

Well being is essential in regards to mental health, and is becoming increasingly popular in design. Natural light is a major factor influencing mental health and well being, and has an important potential in interior architecture. This research aims at first to understand the implications held by well being for designers, especially through the WELL standards certification(1). It then aims to understand the impacts natural light has on mental health, in order to explore techniques that can be used in interior architecture to maximise natural light in a space.


The objectives are met through different techniques, including the literature analysis of the WELL standard(1), by the interview of a wellness advisor, Aoife Hayes(2) and the analysis suggested by the seminal authors Kopec(3) and Bluyssen(4). Kopec’s analysis, support by Brown and Delay(5), aims to understand lighting, its impacts on beings and its uses in interior architecture. The importance of natural light will also be assessed through Van de Heide’s(6) explanations, as well as through the questionnaire submitted to employees of the Malraux library(7), who daily use offices deprived of natural light.


The research leads to the analysis of the role of natural light in generating well being in an interior space, especially in the case of rehabilitating heritage buildings. In those challenging situations, the WELL standard can only be applied in concept and to a certain extent, as the certification is mostly set to fit newly built spaces. The concept of well being can however be pushed as much as possible by a designer when taking inspiration from the standard, as the case study of the Bonded Warehouse suggests techniques used to compensate for the lack of natural light.


Key words : well being ; WELL standard ; natural light ; interior architecture ; IWBI

(1) WELL standard, International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), 2014
(2) Aoife Hayes, wellness advisor and project manager, Arup, Cork
(3) Kopec D. (2017), Health and well being for interior architecture, chapters 1, 7,
8 and 10, first edition, New York, Routledge
(4) Bluyssen P.M. (2013), The Healthy Indoor Environment: How to assess occupants wellbeing in buildings, chapters 4 and 6, New York, Routledge
(5) Brown G.Z. and Delay M. (2001), Sun, wind & light : Architectural design
strategies, second edition, USA, John Wiley and sons
(7) Van Der Heide R. (2010), Why light needs darkness, TEDxAmsterdam
(6) Médiathèque André Malraux, Strasbourg, France

Republic of Work, coworking space and startup hive, in the heart of Cork City

Located on South Mall, Republic of Work is less than two years old but hosts many enterprises, big or small, international or local. They provide different work areas, more or less casual, offices, meeting rooms and a conference space.

Special thanks to Elaine for walking me through it as inspiration for a college project.