• Laura Minca

Why holistic architectural design really matters, today more than ever

As we continue to live with uncertainty, we are putting ourselves (and others) under a magnifying glass. Our work habits, family dynamics, lifestyle and health find themselves competing for our energy and attention more than ever as we navigate through each day. Nevertheless, it is our homes, our immediate environments that have become the focal point of the conversation, of our very existence.


The four-walled domestic container where our lives intersect, clash and overlap has never been more charged with activity, allowing us to discover the failures and triumphs/trials and tribulations of each space. Forced by the circumstances, we have become painfully aware of the spatial (in)efficiency of our homes. You’re certainly not alone if you’ve already begun to search for ways to de-clutter and re-style, looking for that breath of fresh air we are all in such great need of.


We are only now really starting to get a glimpse into the importance of versatile, clean, thoughtful interior architecture and design that goes beyond mainstream, low-cost furniture and seasonal trends. This is why, when embarking on the journey of designing or redesigning your home or holiday home, the efforts invested in establishing the style, scale and materials of the building's envelope should be equally channelled into the quality and efficiency of the interior space.


A sense of whole


The (Oxford) dictionary definition of the term ‘holistic’, reads: ‘considering a whole thing or being to be more than a collection of parts’. This is particularly relevant to our times as it reflects our need to stay connected to our communities and preserve a sense of perspective despite the social isolation we are experiencing.


While this concept is applicable to many areas, it is across the field of design where it truly gains momentum. And it is very much relevant to an approach where the interior and the exterior become part of a bigger idea/system, keeping our narrative relevant to the current social dialogue, and ultimately facilitating human interactions. It is about looking at a building as more than a place to live and work and explore the territory beyond its functional qualities.


In the case of holiday homes or retreats, the situation is similar, where a myriad of ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ come together. They also need to be re-adapted for extended stays, integrate work and work-out areas and include more generous storage amenities. Now, more than ever, spaces need to stay finely tuned to the occupant's ever-changing needs and routines and provide customized, flexible design solutions that allow for adaptations in the spatial flow and overall experience of the interior. Not surprisingly, I see my own clients becoming increasingly concerned with improved ventilation and daylighting strategies, the use of mindful materials (such as reclaimed wood, natural stones, cork or jute fibres) and designing in mind with the psychological impact interiors have on their perception of a space.


Reconnecting with nature


As the need to reconnect with nature, with our extended surroundings, surges the holiday retreat should be 'permeable' enough to allow multiple moments of connection with the outside (through the use of glass, sliding partitions or louvres) while offering a balanced, clean interior. This is where the idea of 'soft minimalism' comes in, a design approach centred on paired back, but warm and liveable interiors. It encourages us to curate the most personal, relevant and meaningful items and invest in new pieces that will outlive trends.


The quality of craftsmanship is also a critical part of the process. It is the detail that tells the story and defines the functionality of a building, the overall experience and atmosphere of each room. The result is a bespoke, muted, restful canvas to which the user can add their own layers of complexity to reflect their experiences and personalities.


With every project we get closer to nature, creating a much-needed alternative space to the pressures of modern life where my client can regain balance. Such spaces create an opportunity to put back into focus values that we have perhaps unknowingly let slip, creating room for self-reflection, simpler pleasures and, overall, a greater awareness of our mental and physical health. 'Buiten leven' has never had more meaning and we are here to guide you through the process of creating your ideal, bespoke retreat.


Contact us to discuss your vision.


ATELIER UMBRA  |  ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN  |  thoughtful. natural. timeless

Dorpstienden 12B | 3253 AS Ouddorp | 0614576915 |  info@atelierumbra.co

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