40: Well, Well, Well S/S 2015


Health, and the information around it, is messy. As are our bodies and the systems intended to help sustain them. No anatomical chart, in its immaculate precision, can articulate the ooze of our fluids and secretions, or our sensations of pain and fear; or the strain of accumulating medical bills; or the clash between the cult of wellness and rampant addiction; or the inequality of access to basic hygiene, nutrition, and medical care. Like health itself, our power—as individuals, citizens, and designers—to heal or to harm ourselves and the spaces in which we dwell is full of contradictions.

These contradictions are what generated this issue of Harvard Design Magazine. “Well, Well, Well” explores some of the tensions and transformations of the landscape of health and illness. As both designers and inhabitants, we create this landscape, and in turn, must navigate our own well-being within it. And as the rules of wellness continue to change—along with political events, science and technology, and nature itself—design and planning must adapt and respond accordingly. Architecture’s panaceas are not without expiration dates, and might even turn out to do more harm than good—but ultimately design has the power to promote and support health and healing in preemptive and progressive ways.

Table of Contents

Editors' Letter


Jennifer Sigler


Designing for Dignity

Ai-Jen Poo

Healing Cuban-American Relations

María Magdalena Campos-Pons

Neuromancer Sport

Claire L. Evans

What Is Medicine? And Where?

Charles E. Rosenberg

White Coat

Nancy Etcoff


A Medical-History Tour of Pretoria

Sean O'Toole

Architecture that Breathes

Annmarie Adams

Freedom by Design: The Paradoxes of Psychiatric Architecture

Leslie Topp

Piss and the City

Thomas A. P. Van Leeuwen

The Forgotten Birth of Parametric Design

David Theodore

The Missing Link: Architecture and Waste Management

Andreas Georgoulias, Hanif Kara, Leire Asensio Villoria

X-Ray Architecture: The Tuberculosis Effect

Beatriz Colomina


Artificial Natures

George Church, Matthew Allen

No More Shadows

Aaron Betsky, Barrett Brown-Fried

On Atmosphere and Landscape

Germán del Sol, Silvia Benedito

Urban Age

Interboro Partners, Linda Fried

Photo Essay

Silver Lining: The NORCs of New York

Interboro Partners, Tim Davis


A Hygiene Hypothesis

Hilary Sample

Delivering Scent, Designing Memory

David Edwards

Everyone Needs Everything

Nicholas Fox Weber

Flying Buttresses

Matthew Allen

Healing the Machine

Jeanne Gang

Holistic Planning

Ann Forsyth

How Not to Die

Jenna Sutela

In Your Backyard

Jose Ahedo

Off-the-Grid Treatment

Peter Rose

Reading Hollywood in the Smog

David Gissen


Susan Merriam

Sculpo, Ergo Sum

Jörg Scheller

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Hui Wang, Julia Kane Africa, Yuko Tsunetsugu

The End of Sitting


Valerio’s Ark

Peter Sealy

Youthfulness without Youth

Deane Simpson


Afflicted Form: A History of the Hospital

MASS Design Group

Rereading: My Dear Richard (February 9, 1968)

Barbara Lamprecht, Raymond Neutra

Ten Commandments of the Public Bath

Tuomas Toivonen