The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) released its report “Build Well to Live Well” on the global and regional wellness lifestyle real estate and communities market. The global market has grown over 6% a year from 2015-2022. The report highlighted seven emerging wellness living concepts that will drive future development.
Blurring the lines between home, work, and leisure
Strategic co-location and integration of homes, co-working facilities, and ample wellness programming (in both cities and suburbs) is trending, all in response to the rapid rise of remote and freelance work, the sharing economy, and mounting issues of loneliness and work-life balance. Example: WeWork’s movement into co-living (WeLive) and wellness (Rise by We).
Making healthy homes affordable
Contrary to the belief that wellness real estate is only for the rich, developers will increasingly collaborate with governments to bring more wellness-infused residences to lower-income populations who are at the highest risk for many health conditions. Examples: The Center for Active Design (US) is a real leader; Via Verde (South Bronx, NY) is an affordable “well” community integrating everything from low-VOC materials to improve indoor air quality, design encouraging walking, green roofs with community gardens, a fitness center, and ample community spaces, including an amphitheater.
Bringing back multigenerational and diverse neighborhoods
More wellness real estate projects will cater to people seeking communities with a much greater diversity of ages, life stages and social classes, recognizing that segregation is unhealthy and that real-world (and not age-segregated) social connections are essential for our well-being and society. (For instance, many Baby Boomers reject the idea of living only with other older people as boring.) Examples: more wellness communities like The Interlace (Singapore) are integrating senior homes and assisted living with mixed-age/family-friendly neighborhoods … so all can “age in place.” More wellness developments will combine senior and college student housing, like Humanitas, the Netherlands.
Catalyzing medical industry clusters and health services to build wellness communities
More world-class wellness communities will be created by combining a geographic concentration of cutting-edge medical industry companies and research organizations (the economic concept of “industry clusters”); a concentration of high-quality hospitals and health services for consumers; and holistically designed wellness-focused homes and neighborhoods. Examples:
Lake Nona (Florida) is anchored on more than a dozen world-class research hospitals, medical centers, human performance and sports training facilities, and tech companies clustered around its wellness-focused homes. Serenbe’s (Georgia) new Mado hamlet is on the cutting edge by integrating an impressive array of alternative, preventive, and healthy lifestyle services in its thriving residential neighborhood.
Moving from green to regenerative living
Moving beyond green building certifications to create innovative, regenerative residential communities of green, biophilic, sustainable, and healthy design—that will produce their own healthy food and renewable energy, clean the air, recycle their water, and be net positive for people and the planet. Examples: various projects in development in China and Europe take green, biophilic, and healthy design to the next level, like the Liuzhou Forest City and Moganshan 1,000 Trees projects in China, and Italy’s Bosco Verticale towers, which cover entire buildings and cities with plants and trees to improve air quality, biodiversity, and renewable energy. The ReGen Villages being piloted in the Netherlands go a step further by combining sustainable and biophilic design with off-the-grid, self-sufficient energy and organic food production.
Leveraging technologies to create smart-healthy homes and cities
More projects will harness futuristic technologies—including advanced telemedicine, smart homes, sensors, artificial intelligence, etc.—to bring state-of-the-art on-demand wellness into homes, neighborhoods, and cities. More model city projects will showcase futuristic energy and green technologies (like China’s Tianjin Eco-city, Energy City Qatar, Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City). But the next wave will put health/wellness technology front and center, like The Connected City project (Tampa, FL) where highest-tech wellness spans self-driving cars, telemedicine, smart-home technologies, virtual learning, the first Crystal Lagoon in the US, a hospital with a medi-spa, and a health/performance institute.
Rediscovering hot springs as a wellness living anchor
More wellness residences will revolve around natural thermal and mineral springs (both primary and vacation homes) as people rediscover the therapeutic benefits of communal bathing. Examples: In Europe, there is immense opportunity to redevelop historic spa towns as holistic wellness communities, like Kemeri Park in Latvia, which is renovating a Soviet-era health resort/thermal bathing facilities to regenerate the nearby village following wellness community design principles. At California’s Goco Retreat Temascal Valley, residences are now being built with the redeveloped Glen Ivy Hot Springs as their anchor (opening 2019).
“Our existing built environment has a massive and increasingly negative impact on our physical and mental health. We will never address skyrocketing chronic disease and health costs without dramatically transforming where and how we live,” said Ophelia Yeung, GWI Sr. Researcher. “We’ve got to shift investment into the places that give us the most outsized health returns … our homes and communities.”
Photo: Jared Rice via Unsplash