Designing for Wellness

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Wendy James and Tyler Ashworth from HKS share their experiences after designing their own new Central London office – with wellbeing at its heart.

Health and wellbeing design is an important emerging market trend and one already integral to our projects at HKS Architects. Emergence of the WELL Building Standard has helped bring wellbeing to the forefront of clients’ minds, and our abundance of WELL AP accredited staff allows HKS to showcase our leadership in this area to both the industry and our clients.

When planning our new HKS London studio we embraced the challenge of merging wellness with high quality design. The studio will be a hallmark interior and showcase space for both our clients and the community alike.

Highlights of our new studio’s wellbeing design strategies include:

Air Quality

Reducing VOCs meant paying close attention to specified products. This meant the selection process took a bit longer due to confirmation of compliance, but by no means meant we had to skimp on quality.


Located on the ground and lower ground floors of an old garment factory, large store front windows deliver generous amounts of eastern daylight to the new studio. Natural light benefits Circadian rhythm, so to maximise it throughout we introduced roof-lights above the lower ground workstations and a central double-height space, directing natural light deep within the floorplate. An interior lighting scheme supplements natural daylight to ensure the interiors achieve proper equivalent melanopic lux (EML) levels (a lighting metric tied to Circadian rhythm) regardless of weather.


We wanted a space that encouraged staff to choose their working environment. Be it standing at a desk, sitting in privacy or collaborating on a charrette, comfort and flexibility were essential. Furniture was chosen to define the various spaces and allow staff and clients freedom to customise their personal environment and enhance creativity.

‘As we move into a larger design studio in Central London and plan for the next
5 -10 years, we are intentionally building our practice around quality in all we do,’ says MD Francis Gallagher. ‘Achieving WELL Certification is important as we need to retain and attract the very best and place them in a truly considered studio environment so we can continue to grow and operate to the highest level.’