WELL Worth It? Birmingham, 11 September 2019

The commercial case for wellbeing in buildings: How it creates value

‘Wellbeing’ is no longer a luxury. It’s the competitive edge that attracts the best talent, meets the expectations of the next generation of workplace leaders, affects investment value, creates tenant and buyer demand, and improves productivity.

That was the thrust of our ‘Well Worth It’ seminar hosted at the Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen at The Custard Factory in Birmingham in September 2019. Our stellar line-up of speakers examined just how influential an investment in wellbeing can be, and asked: who needs convincing?

In tune with nature

To an audience of architects, planners, property advisers, and developers, Hydrock’s Chris Bowie-Hill argued that an investment in the work environment is an investment in people.

Chris guided the packed house through the senses and the environments that have an innate impact on how, as humans, we react and feel. Core to this is our positive association with nature, biophilia, which in a world of tightly sealed working spaces, devoid of access to nature and natural light, is impacting our productivity.

Everyone can win

Chris argued that for investors, an investment in high quality workspaces pays back in the longer term. Businesses stay for longer, and the need to reinvest in the upkeep of the property is reduced if the investment is made up-front.

The employee wins by experiencing a calmer workspace which offers choice to suit all working requirements, which in turn means when they return home in a more positive frame of mind to their friends and families. And employers win, because the result is greater productivity from their employees and increased creativity and innovation.

Bringing the outside in, yoga in the boardroom, and childhood memories – our guest speakers

Our seminar brought together a diverse and stellar group of guest contributors.

Anna Parker, Founding Director, Intervention Architecture argued that you can design well, irrespective of budget. With a focus on the residential sector, Anna illustrated how you can create a moment of joy as you enter any room in a house through the most simple of design interventions.

Illustrated through her work on both The Writer’s Coach House and High Contrast House, Anna talked about the importance of bringing the outside in through big windows, natural tactile materials and light, open space.

Jo Lancashire, Design Manager, Estilo Interiors explored what is to be learnt from the WELL standards. Whilst a design approach that focuses on stairs and stair wells will encourage exercise, Jo did warn the audience that the standards might demand that the boardroom be used for yoga!

Jo gave a live case study of the work her company has delivered for Birmingham law firm, Freeths. Staff are enjoying the choice they have to choose between active and collaborative workspaces, quiet spaces and social spaces. Jo argued that if we eat together as employees, we take more time to concentrate on what we’re eating and we achieve a more mindful state of being by taking a break and socialising.

Professor Kathryn Moore, Birmingham City University concluded the event by outlining her visionary proposals to create a national park in the West Midlands, spanning seven cities.

Arguing that landscape is not just about towns and cities, and challenging everyone to change their perceptions of the environment, Kathryn said that landscape is shaped by our memories and values – about our pride in somewhere. The place where we grew up, the history, experiences and events that have shaped those places, that is how to approach an understanding of the landscape.

How do you change the stress that people feel around major infrastructure? Kathryn’s view is you change the discourse, you change perceptions of the overall landscape.

Want to learn more?

For a CPD on the well-being centric design of buildings, get in touch: email events@hydrock.com.