Improving interior well-being standards beyond the pandemic
Design with well-being in mind is an incredibly topical subjects right now as we re-build our relationships with buildings and public spaces. At TEN, our challenge is always to design with the future in mind and we see this as one main area of focus in our practice that is set to not only continue, but get bigger in the near future.
Over the last year there has been a huge focus on re-framing the requirements of shared facilities within large scale residential, BTR and apart-hotel sector, most of which were closed for some time during the pandemic. “How can we make our buildings more pandemic-proof?” was a question echoed across numerous Zoom sessions. Whilst this is a worthy topic for discussion what we should be asking ourselves the bigger question of how can we make our buildings healthier and better for us? A space designed with well-being, sustainability and health in mind is going to be successful regardless of the situation and has the potential to bounce back faster in any future force-major.
The WELL Building standard is a great place to start and their building-specific accreditation programme for the built environment has been adopted by over 30,000 projects internationally. A lot of those projects have come from the commercial sectors (Offices & Retail), however there are more and more hospitality and residential schemes coming on board. There is even a Multi-family pilot which will be of interest to many of our UK-based clients that look towards the US as the big brother of Build to Rent.
It is the first building standard that measures, certifies and monitors building features that impact human health & well-being. What is particularly attractive, unlike a lot of generic well-being guides, the standard provides many scientifically-backed strategies on how to design healthier spaces. Also due to its international scale, the standard is becoming more recognised by the consumer, giving a tangible point of differentiation in the sea of options.
A couple of our studio’s favourite design-orientated and easy-to-implement features of a WELL-certified interior are:
1. Improved interior air quality. Levels of harmful VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) can me as much as x 5 higher indoors than outdoors and as we spend the majority of our time indoors this can have serious effects on our health. Luckily, many manufacturers of interior finishes and products have supported the drive for healthier buildings and many products such as paints, flooring and panelling can be used to not only reduce harmful levels of toxins in the air but actually improve the air quality in our spaces.
2. Providing drinking water access is an easy win for public spaces as it encourages people to stay hydrated. Easily-accessible filtered drinking water also supports many people’s desire to reduce reliance on single-use plastics, helping everyone make more sustainable choices every day.
3. Maximising on the quality of daylight internal spaces receive and planning the spaces with this it in mind is one of the core principles for any space planning we do at TEN. As humans we are naturally drawn to bright spaces during the day and daylight exposure has proved to have great impact on our mood and alertness, making it an essential consideration during spatial design stages of any project.
Achieving the standard and maintaining the building’s credential is a long-term commitment and one that fits perfectly with the agendas of many developers in the BTR, co-living and hospitality spheres that are looking to retain the ownership of the property.
Getting more familiar with the requirements can be done with a help of a WELL AP and as with any building accreditation is best done early on in the design stage to work out the most optimised solution. Pre-certification can be done at early stages of the design process to make sure your design & architecture vision aligns with the requirements of the certification.
Are you looking to raise the well-being standard in your next scheme and or would like to hear more about how the WELL Building Standard can apply to your project? Get in touch with us at TEN London.