Childhood obesity has seen a huge increase within recent years and is a major problem within the United States. There are many measures that researchers, dieticians and other professionals have been taking to try and optimize healthy lifestyles; however, did you ever think that the way a building was designed could have the same effect? Dr. Terry Huang, an obesity expert with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, has set out to do just that. His research has led to the development of a contemporary school that optimizes a healthy lifestyle within a learning community.
The design spans throughout the entirety of the school, but holds a focus in developing:
- A food lab where kids can learn how to prepare healthy foods;
- A cafeteria that facilitates fresh food production;
- A school garden where kids can grow food for the school cafeteria and burn a few calories;
- A lower-stress environment to address light, noise levels, air quality and crowding; and
- Layouts that encourage more movement and the use of attractive water fountains in every classroom and throughout the school.
The hope is to utilize architecture in order to spur healthy lifestyles in a school setting, a place where kids spend much of their day. Dr. Huang’s work was recognized for encouraging theoretical awareness, educational exchange, thought and research in architecture. His ultimate goal is to develop innovative ways to combine environmental and individual strategies to shift culture towards better health. His research has been implemented in Virginia at the new Buckingham County Primary and Elementary School.
This research is a nod to how architecture and functionality can go hand in hand within modern design. It is a testament to the fact that the design of a building can do more than just house a certain activity; it can actually provide a functional purpose. This is definitely where the future is and should be headed by the architecture and urban planning community.
Where do you think the future of architecture and design is headed? How have you seen functionality meet infrastructure within your community?
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