Think Human

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Gavin King, Director of Manchester headquartered SpaceInvader, tells us about his experience with the WELL Building Standard.

We begin by considering the whole person, and everything we do spins out from that approach.

Our ethos is that it is entirely possible, indeed necessary, to create workspaces that enhance the health and wellness of the building’s occupants.

We always design with wellbeing in mind, so working in partnership with engineering consultants Hilson Moran on the extensive fit-out of its new Manchester office space in NEO, the former Bank Tower owned by developers Bruntwood, was a real pleasure.

From the outset, emphasis was placed on collaboratively creating a design that emulated nature to create a vibrant and stimulating workplace. The floors’ design was also aligned to meet the WELL Building Standard. We genuinely welcome this standard because it gives a proper framework for the fundamentals of designing for wellbeing.

Design features included green moss walls in the collaboration area and various wall graphics and designs that invoke nature. Plants were carefully selected using research conducted by the NASA Clean Air Study, choosing species shown to help remove pollutants from the air, all placed strategically across the office floor. To encourage collaboration and nourishment, the ‘refresh’ space was placed centrally, thereby creating movement and dynamism throughout the day.

A key element of the standard is also to reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from products and furniture in order to improve air quality. This involved extensive research by the design team to source suitable products and was reinforced with the continuous measurement of air quality, to meet the required standards and ensure long-term compliance. Hilson Moran’s own acoustics experts used digital modelling to create the acoustic signature of the working environment, thereby creating optimum acoustic conditions – rarely experienced within an open plan office.

On the first floor, the building has a ‘shared space’ for use by all occupiers including formal and informal meeting areas and workspaces, a new outdoor terrace with meeting pods, as well as a refreshment area – every element specifically designed to promote a ‘people-focused’ mentality.

With accreditation now underway, Hilson Moran’s Manchester office is on route to become the first WELL Gold Standard accredited office in the North of England.

Chris Birch, Director of Sustainability at Hilson Moran, says: ‘Being our own client on the project meant we tested our expertise in MEP services, fit-out and acoustics, as well as our belief in WELL Standards to the limit in order to practice what we preach. Most importantly, the work showcases Hilson Moran’s understanding and mission as a practice to deliver high quality projects that are desirable and meet the demands of the modern workplace. By ensuring our staff are in an office which showcases this ethos, we are clear advocates of this and will continue to use the office as a test bed for the WELL Standard and other technologies.’

It’s truly rewarding to work with a client where the fundamentals of improving the wellbeing of everyone in the space is central to its design.

Our approach is a holistic one. Consider the whole person first; not as a worker, but as a human being. Everything we do spins out from that principle and not surprisingly our clients understand and appreciate it. Everyone benefits from good design.