Recent years have seen a noticeable growth in public awareness of the importance of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Bankers and CEOs are trading the 19th hole for water bottles and cycling shorts, techies are doing triathlons, and back-to-basics diets like Paleo are taking the world by storm. It’s clear that people are tired of sacrificing health and wellness for status and wealth, and are striving to achieve the perfect balance of quality of life and success.

According to development expert and Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, Bill Rawson, this has impacted far more than just diet and exercise regimes, however: people are now expecting their built environments to support their lifestyle choices as well.

“We are definitely seeing a huge trend towards lifestyle-enhancing features in modern architecture and design,” says Rawson. “This can be seen in the increasing popularity of open spaces, indoor-outdoor flow and entertainment areas in the single residential market, but it is even more evident in the development space where it is literally changing the landscape of high-density design.”

Rawson explains that modern developments – particularly in the luxury market – aren’t just about creating attractive and functional spaces anymore. The aim is to build a sanctuary where residents can escape and recharge from the rigors of their daily life. To do so, several aspects must be taken into account, including intellectual, occupational, social, emotional, spiritual, physical and environmental needs.

“Technology and connectivity are paramount on the intellectual and occupational fronts,” says Rawson, “and as developers, we are very aware of the need to stay ahead of the curve on these. It’s the emotional, physical and social needs of residents, however, that really brings the wellness trend to the fore, and has a big influence on the overall look and feel of modern developments.”

To cater to residents’ physical needs, in-house gyms, swimming pools and spas are increasingly important, providing a safe and comfortable space in which to work off the stress and weariness of a hard day’s work.

On the social side, commercial components are introduced to bring a lively atmosphere to public spaces, with bustling restaurants, coffee shops and boutique stores offering residents and visitors a chance to interact and unwind.

“The ability to shop, eat and socialise within your own building is both convenient and liberating,” says Rawson. “It stimulates spontaneous social activity, offers an alternative to staying at home, and reduces the need for daily chores like cooking and laundry – a big bonus for professionals with busy schedules. Restaurant facilities also give residents a place to entertain outside of the confines of their own apartments, which means less work, less clean-up, and less noise for neighbours.”

Emotional and spiritual balance can be more difficult to achieve with brick and mortar, but these needs are the driving force behind introducing more greenery, natural ventilation, light, and outdoor space to developments, says Rawson.

“As the population grows, more and more of our natural environment is giving way to skyscrapers and highways – by necessity. That makes it very important to provide green spaces in which residents can feel connected to the natural world. Inner-city developments, in particular, make use of landscaped roof gardens and plant-friendly balconies, alongside tree-filled courtyards and water features designed to soothe and still busy minds.”

Emotional harmony isn’t the only factor involved in “greening” modern developments, however; responsible environmental practices are also playing a big role.

“People aren’t just trying to find a balance in their own lives, they’re also striving to balance their impact on the environment,” says Rawson. “This makes eco-friendly developments very attractive, and encourages developers to introduce green technology into their designs. These include energy efficiency, carbon footprint reduction, and water-wise initiatives.”

While green, holistic, wellness-focussed developments may be largely confined to the luxury market for now, Rawson believes the increasing popularity of these design elements will see them introduced at all price levels in the not-too-distant future.

“By prioritising health, wellness and environmentally responsible living, people are putting pressure on developers to follow suit,” says Rawson. “It’s very exciting to see such a positive trend gain ground, and send the industry in a great direction.”

For more information, email marketing@rawsonproperties.com or visit www.rawson.co.za for the latest market tips and industry news.