This paper will demonstrate the methodology in creating The Spine, a workplace targeting the WELL Platinum Standard, which can be applied across all sectors.
In 2016, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) reported that 40,000 deaths per year were attributable to air pollution exposure. As airborne contamination and pathogens continue to rise, the future of building design will need to support occupant health.
Purpose: A practical approach to creating humane spaces that positively impact the health of occupants.
Methods: The paper will demonstrate the methodology in creating The Spine, a workplace targeting the WELL Platinum Standard, which can be applied across all sectors. The RCP needed a workplace that would manifest its ethos. An investigation of how the College functioned was undertaken, via observation within their existing facilities, spatial audit, and a questionnaire. A remote College team established in Liverpool was also consulted. The results defined which facilities were needed and how the interplay of biophilic principles and the WELL standard might have a positive impact on the health outcomes of occupants.
Some interventions applied included:
- highly specified air supply and filtration systems and routine air quality monitoring;
- every workstation located within a maximum of 7.5m from a window;
- use of the Voronoi pattern on the facade to create a forest canopy of internal shading, helping occupants to synchronise with their circadian rhythms; and
- salutogenic planting – species selected for their air-purifying properties.
The idea that ‘If you can touch it, it’s real’ was also incorporated, through: extensive use of oak; carpets made from recycled fishing nets, which capture air particulate matter; use of biophilic patterns; and air-purifying paint and furniture with low volatile organic compound (VOC) properties.
Results: Two post-occupancy evaluations (PoE) will be undertaken, including one in the WELL accreditation process. The College has a team of occupational scientists focusing on the impact on staff. Data will then be used to inform future design.
Conclusion: While there have been significant biophilic interventions in the design of the building, these have been contained to an uplift of less than 2 per cent to the capital cost. What might be a small percentage increase in the design and construction costs, if implemented correctly, they can provide an excellent return on investment.