Centerbrook Designs Pioneering Indoor Health Lab

CENTERBROOK, Conn. -- Centerbrook Architects has designed a first of its kind research laboratory that serves as sophisticated platform for advanced studies on indoor health. The design team worked closely with Delos, a pioneer of Wellness Real Estate™ and a leader in the development of the Well Building Standard®, as well as experts in environmental controls, sensor technology, and data collection.

Wired wrote about the project, which was designed and built in less than nine months: “The indoor health revolution took a huge step forward with the opening of the Well Living Lab at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.”

Delos and Mayo Clinic have collaborated to develop the 7,500-square-foot research lab, whose goal is to quantify the way people interact with various indoor spaces and integrated environmental stimuli, such as variable lighting, air quality, temperature, noise, and visual background.

The design of the laboratory’s six experimental modules is completely flexible and modular: walls, floors, ceilings, fixtures, and even plumbing can be removed or reconfigured to mimic the interiors of numerous business, institutional, or residential applications, whether a hotel room, kitchen, open or closed offices, or classroom.

Omnipresent but inconspicuous advanced sensor technology ⎯ such as sensor-laden wristbands and fabrics ⎯ combine with precise environmental controls to allow researchers to determine how occupants react to a variety of settings and specific external factors. For example, the Well Living Lab can simulate the external sounds of urban traffic or the chirping of crickets. In addition to evaluating whole environments, the Lab also can evaluate the efficacy of specific products, such as lighting fixtures and office furniture and how they impact users’ social interactions, mood, and comfort.

The Living Lab’s mission encompasses evaluating findings from the scientific literature by testing their conclusions in a specially designed real world setting. In some cases this may involve taking studies to the next logical level, for example testing how lighting affects how people sleep in conjunction with other factors like temperature and humidity levels.

Conditions in the experimental modules are controlled and monitored in the facility’s Control Room, which houses computer work stations and large-format video displays, where researchers conduct streaming analytics of study data via from cloud-based sources. The Living Lab houses a video conference room, a hardware workshop, and staff offices. This infrastructure is designed to handle test results from the Well Living Lab as well as those being conducted offsite. After an initial period of testing and commissioning its own systems, the Lab will be available for doctors, hospitals and businesses to conduct studies in early 2016.

The project also was profiled in Fast Company and online coverage there and elsewhere included and animated tour of the Lab and its features that was created by Centerbrook.