Healthy Spaces

Vera Iconica Architecture creates The Wellness Kitchen to help their clients thrive
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Wellness kitchens are thoughtfully designed for storing, preparing and cooking higher quality produce, supporting a family’s healthier lifestyle and ultimately, a healthier planet. | Photos courtesy Vera Iconica Architecture

Vera Iconica Architecture, founded in 2010 and based in Jackson, Wyoming, is a pioneer in wellness architecture that is grounded in green and sustainable but goes way beyond. “The Green Movement is a wonderful place to start but it is really only one slice of the pie,” says Veronica Schreibeis Smith, founding principal architect and CEO. “Wellness architecture is not only about being sustainable and energy-efficient but also about creating spaces that make us joyful and help us truly thrive as human beings.”

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“The kitchen is the true heart of the home…the place we gather to nourish one another,” says Smith. “We want to make it a multigenerational social experience, especially with children … to engage them in the appreciation of healthy food from the beginning.” It is, therefore, no surprise that Vera Iconica (the name means “true likeness” in Latin) began rethinking the traditional kitchen. “Very little has changed in kitchen design in the past 65 years … although our eating and lifestyle habits…and our whole relationship with food have changed dramatically,” says Smith. The Wellness KitchenTM reexamines the full cycle of food—from harvest (or delivery) to storage to cooking to disposal of food waste.

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What does this mean in practical terms? Appliances are reimagined to support climate-controlled food storage for sturdy, long-lasting vegetables (onions, carrots, potatoes and beets, for example) and the more fragile produce like herbs and lettuces. Growing cabinets are installed, ideal for winter and for homes in colder climates with shorter growing seasons. An innovative tiered-surface counter has a sliding drainboard and cutting board that are located near the compost bin, making it more convenient to chop, slice and dispose directly into the compost. “One of the homes we designed, went a step farther,” says senior designer Blair Costello. “We turned the compost into a biogas digester.” Breakdown of organic matter produces methane gas and, in this case, that gas that was used to fuel the family’s outdoor grills and tiki torches.

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Because we are all uber-busy and very few of us has the luxury of time, Smith suggests that, instead of treating food preparation as a chore, we consider these moments of calmness and relaxation.

“We all really want the same things…to live an optimal life in a responsible way for the health of each other and for the planet,” says Smith. “…and that every decision we make as designers helps to achieve that goal.”

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