“Wellness architecture is about understanding the science of our spaces and then adding the soul,” says Veronica Schreibeis Smith, principal founder of Vera Iconica Architecture. Based in Jackson, Wyoming, and with a significant presence in Denver, the firm stands as a trailblazer in the burgeoning field of wellness architecture—a novel concept that once embraced becomes a lifestyle essential.
If traditional structures serve as our four-walled habitats, wellness architecture provides the vital pulse that breathes life into them. The doctrine behind this idea is simple: People are products of their environment. They thrive when their surroundings are tailored to cater to their physical and emotional wellbeing. Considering the staggering 90% of our time spent indoors, shouldn’t these spaces not just be good but also be good for us?
Vera Iconica pioneers this transformative approach to architecture, creating spaces that people love and the planet appreciates. “We want to create spaces that people adore being in that also have a light touch on the earth,” Smith says. In Colorado, where the sun is plentiful and bugs scarce, Smith’s firm nudges indoor spaces to flirt with the outdoors, blurring the boundaries between inside and out. It’s more than aesthetics; it’s an appeal to return to our innate connection with nature.
Through its VIA Wellness Architecture, Vera Iconica employs an extensive range of principles—68 in total—to integrate wellness into architectural designs. Drawing its name from the Latin phrase for “true likeness,” Vera Iconica selects building materials not only for their form and function but for their ability to enrich the space and its occupants’ well-being. “While some materials may meet insulation standards, they can release toxins into our homes, potentially causing sick building syndrome. A more mindful choice would be insulation made of sheep’s wool,” says Smith.
The regenerative wellness design stretches from balanced and functional homes to specialized retreat experiences. Each space promotes human and planetary health, going beyond today’s rating systems for green or healthy design. Be it optimizing lighting for better sleep scores or incorporating plants that act as indoor air purifiers, each detail speaks to the firm’s commitment to a regenerative future.
It’s more than just architecture; it’s a lifestyle philosophy. By merging wellness with the physical fabric of buildings, the firm is laying the blueprint for the future, reminding us that our homes are more than just the four walls around us—they are spaces where our well-being takes center stage.