architecture · design · environment · happiness · health · Nature

Singapore Opens New Garden Airport

Singapore is famous for its greenery, dedication to parks and green spaces, and impressive architecture. They have combined all of that into their new international airport.

REPOST from ASLA blog The Dirt:

The new Jewel Changi airport features a 6-acre indoor forest, walking trails, and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. This restorative mecca filled with 2,500 trees and 100,000 shrubs not only revitalizes weary international travelers but is also open to the public.

This includes an inside bamboo forest, canopy-level train system, and an incredible water feature that also recycles rain water.

Jewel Changi provides that nearby natural respite with a 5-story-tall forest encased in a 144,000-square-foot steel and glass donut structure. During rain storms, water pours through an oculus in the roof — creating the 130-foot-tall Rain Vortex, a mesmerizing waterfall sculpture that can accommodate up to 10,000 gallons per minute at peak flow. Stormwater is then recycled throughout the building.




As anyone who experienced the stress of air travel can attest, the onslaught of digital signs, loud speakers announcing departures, shops blaring music, and carts flying by quickly leads to draining sensory overload. Now imagine if there was a natural place to take a break amid the cacophony. As many studies have shown, just 10 minutes of immersion in nature can reduce stress, restore cognitive ability, and improve mood.

With Jewel Changi, Singapore has reinvented what an airport can be, just as they re-imagined what a hospital can be with Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, which is not only a medical facility but also a green hub open to the community. Now let’s hope Singapore’s biophilic design culture spreads around the world. International airports are in fierce competition for passengers and regularly one-up each other with new wow-factor amenities, shops, and restaurants.

I realize that Singapore has a lot more support, both culturally and financially, than other places in the world to implement this kind of space. However, hopefully the value from a cultural, health, and tourism dollar standpoint will make it worth it for other countries to invest in adding even small elements of this to their public spaces like hospitals, airports, and other spaces.

See original post.

brain · creativity · mental health

8 Counter-Intuitive Ways to Improve Your Well-Being and Creativity

I’m having quite the brain block at work today, but I did find this article helpful; in fact, I went right out and bought myself an early lunch (or late brunch) after reading this.

To help you break the busy-ness cycle and work happier, we’ve rounded up a handful of counter-intuitive ways to tweak your habits and your mindset. They range from obvious-but-oft-ignored tips to the slightly more eccentric.
1. Eat breakfast.
According to New York magazine, “between 1965 and 1991, the number of adults who regularly skip breakfast increased from 14 to 25%.” We all know that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” but few of us act on it. The truth is there are few better one-stop options for improving general well-being. Numerous studies have linked eating breakfast with better general health, increased productivity, and a lower body mass index. If you want to feel better, look better, or just work better, there’s one simple solution: eat breakfast — preferably foods with a low glycemic index.

2. Sit less.
Most of us spend the greater part of our day sitting in front of a computer. In fact, the average person sits 9.3 hours a day — more than they sleep. All of this sedentary work is leading to increased cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and lots of other unhealthy side effects. Like death…

more at 8 Counter-Intuitive Ways to Improve Your Well-Being & Creativity

I wouldn’t call them counter-intuitive, per say, but definitely not the usual ideas, like getting an office pet (#4) or distancing yourself from a problem (#7). And many of them really do focus on overall well-being, not just creativity and collaboration in the workplace.

What other “odd” ways do you use to improve your well-being? Leave it in the comments.

behavior · children · learning · school

When the future becomes detrimentally more important than the present

I read this article in the New York Times a couple of days ago, and it really bothered me:

Since second grade, Nathaly has taken advantage of a voluntary integration program here, leaving her home in one of the city’s poorer sections before 6:30 a.m. and riding a bus over an hour to Newton, a well-to-do suburb with top-quality schools. Some nights, she has so many activities that she does not get home until 10 p.m.; often she’s up past midnight studying.

“Nathaly gets so mad if she doesn’t make the honor roll,” says Stephanie Serrata, a classmate.

Last Wednesday, Nathaly did it again, with 5 A’s and 2 B’s for the first marking period.

via Let’s Get Ready Offers Help for College Admissions –

At first I couldn’t figure out why; it was a story essentially about all the great programs that our K-12 education system has for getting help and getting ahead in school and prepping to apply for prestigious colleges. Then, when I looked closer at the lead picture of the article it hit me:

Nathaly Lopera in her Passport class, one of several programs she attends to help her get into college. Article by MICHAEL WINERIP, New York Times, Nov 20th, 2011

This 17 year old girl is yawning in her class, and it’s not from boredom or because she stayed up too late the night before chatting with her friends online. It’s because she is working so hard to get into college she isn’t getting enough sleep. Her health is suffering for a future prospect of getting into a “good” secondary education facility.

I find this idea horrible. Yes, it’s great that all these programs exist for kids to get help in applying to college and help in school. I was a tutor in high school, and I took SAT-prep courses which helped me immensely. I applaud this girl’s dedication to her education and her future. I absolutely appreciate the idea of staying up late to study for finals every once in awhile. However, constant sleep deprivation is REALLY dangerous, both in the immediate present (poorer performance, slowed reaction times) and in the future (delayed physical and mental growth). Being sleepy is just as dangerous and being drunk behind the wheel of a car.

I truly believe that this push to get kids into a “good” school, focusing on the future, is a really bad idea.

There was the uproar earlier this year about the self-described “Tiger Mom” and her pride in how hard she pushed her kids. Again, while I appreciate how much she is dedicated to her daughters’ success, there have been numerous studies that show kids do just as well without the focused drilling by their parents. An extra push every now and then, and support driving them to piano lessons or football games? Absolutely! But a parent does not need to be a drill sergeant, nor does the kid need to be literally killing themselves to get into a decent college. A documentary came out in April discussing the phenomenon, called The Race To Nowhere, which does a really nice job of capturing how a lot of this college-prep focus is about as useful as a chicken running around with their head cut off.

I understand this kind of drive starts as early as preschool in many communities, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy into it! Yes, of course I want my future children to get a good college education. Yes, I want them to receive quality primary education. But focusing so much on the future is absolutely detrimental to the health of the child and to the parent.

I would love to hear back from people who have either dropped out of this school rat race to focus more on developing and spending time with their child now, or from people who feel this kind of dedication is essential and worth the health risks.

culture · disease · environment · happiness · health · mental health · play · psychology · Social

Secrets To Longevity: patience, planning, and moderation

This is a very cool study that was featured on NPR; it is in fact a follow-up study done back in the 1950’s on the habits of successful kids, almost 1,500 of them. These new researchers picked up on the study and tried to track down the kids to see how they were doing.

They found some interesting patterns appear in the kids who live the longest and healthiest:

"The most cheerful, optimistic kids grew up to take more risks," explains Martin. "By virtue of expecting good things to happen and feeling like nothing bad ever would, they predisposed themselves to be heavier drinkers, they tended to be smokers, and their hobbies were riskier."

So, she concludes, "some degree of worrying actually is good." And, in fact, adds Friedman, "the prudent, persistent, planful people — both in childhood … and then in young adulthood we measured that — that was the strongest individual difference, or personality predictor, of long life."

Friedman and Martin also found that the conventional wisdom on fitness isn’t quite right. If we try too hard to push ourselves into exercise regimens, it can backfire. Physical activity is important, they found, but it’s more about doing what you love than adhering to a certain fitness program.

Read more about The Longevity Project.