Integral Living Research examines how design research, trans-disciplinary design and human centered research are applied to thinking about healthy urban interior living environments. This research examines the urban house and living as a structured experience that can contain systems to enhance health, build community and create comfort for the users. The interior spaces of the urban house act as test beds for speculative research in the interior environment including sensory design, interior urban environments and the development of design assessment tools for urban living. This work includes a prototypical residential environment that will contain systems for assessing and designing healthy spaces for a variety of populations. The projects currently under development work to create novel opportunities to approach this living space. In the middle of the last century, designers approached the residential environment with new ideas about aesthetics and construction. These prototypical, and iconic, mid-century homes were called the “Case Study Houses”. This century demands a new kind of case study house, one in which the needs of all users can be considered through health, informed design, and human-centered design. My work integrates systems, technology and information into the narrative of urban living for health and is called Integral Living Design. One important layer of this work is to mentor and educate beginning designers and researchers in the novel processes of Integral Living Design.
Currently two collaborative projects that examine issues of health through biophilia and the housing needs of underserved communities are the main vehicle for the Integral Living approach. URBN STEAMlab is a research lab, founded by myself and Shivanthi Anandan, with a focus on Urban Sustainable Living. Our work integrates evidence-based design and fundamental research processes in science to examine green space and food production within the home. The project hopes to approach the lack of healthy food in the urban environment through prototyping the greening of the urban row home on the interior. Integrating research and technology in an outcomes-driven informed design loop that includes a strong mentorship component for beginning researchers, we have exhibited and presented the work of the lab nationally and internationally. A second project is the Health Design Research for Innovation Initiative, a funded project to develop interdisciplinary coursework that explores health and design through the lens of human-centered innovation. This research falls under the umbrella of scholarship of teaching and learning and is a collaboration with Yvonne Michael from The Dornsife School of Public Health. In this pilot program, students examine how they can create health solutions for those living with housing insecurity. This work represents the education arm of the Center for Health and the Designed Environment, and is part of our AIA Health and Design Consortium. The course and the programming associated with it will be a cornerstone for the health and design path of the MS Design Research degree. The two areas of research, URBN STEAMlab and Health Design Innovation Program, will add to the Integral Living Research process through the findings and methods that they engage.

D.S. NICHOLAS