Places People Prefer

The Office
Agenda

The Office Agenda brings together our extensive insight into what makes an office that people – from employees to the board – prefer.

Places People Prefer

The Office
Agenda

Wellbeing

Placemaking for health and happiness

British Land’s Michael Meadows explains why the Paddington Central campus has been designed with wellbeing in mind

Today’s trend for health and wellbeing is easy to see in the online world of Instagram and YouTube, with the boom in fitness, food and lifestyle blogs and vlogs. But there is also an opportunity to dramatically improve people’s health and happiness by making changes in the physical world.

There is lots of evidence that urban environments affect how people feel and behave – for better or worse. Research shows that people exposed to nature in cities are more productive and tend to be more generous, neighbourly and helpful. Urban shapes, scents and sounds measurably affect human emotions – with sharp angles, long blank walls and traffic noise all triggering stress responses.

Public health studies reveal that urban design even influences how much physical activity we get every day and how much time we spend with family and friends – both factors that have a direct impact on our heart health, stress indicators and life expectancy.

“As a responsible, progressive placemaker, we’re excited about the huge role we can play in boosting people’s health and wellbeing through good design,” says Michael Meadows, Planning Director at British Land.

“Back in 2015, we worked with Happy City to develop a series of wellbeing principles to guide our placemaking strategy,” he continues. “Informed by science, these encourage aspects such as access to nature, social opportunities, community and active lifestyles.”

Wellbeing at Paddington Central

Meadows explains that Paddington Central is one of the places where British Land is putting these wellbeing principles to the test. This mixed-use campus forms an important part of the Paddington Opportunity Area with significant potential for growth, providing new offices, retail and leisure uses, supported by the imminent arrival of Crossrail.

“When we bought Paddington Central in 2013, it felt isolated, with hard, grey landscaping and a lack of connection to the local area,” says Meadows. “We’ve invested to transform the campus into a thriving mixed-use community space, benefiting the thousands of people who work, live and visit there each week.”

Along Kingdom Street the greenery, fragrant flora and edible plants have opened up opportunities for people to encounter nature during their daily lives – which, studies show, boosts wellbeing and productivity. Additional communal seating and recreational areas are encouraging social interaction and relationships, one of the most powerful drivers of human health.

“The greenery, fragrant flora and edible plants have opened up opportunities for people to encounter nature during their daily lives – which, studies show, boosts wellbeing and productivity”

There’s also a new outdoor games room, enhanced walkways, improved cycle facilities and a redesigned road layout that uses ‘shared space’ principles for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. These are all encouraging people to move around more, which is critical to health, happiness and productivity.

“We’ve invested in events, too,” Meadows adds, “running a lively programme of activities that are enabling people who work or live in and around Paddington Central to try something new, spend time outside, meet different people and take a break. These are all factors known to be good for wellbeing.”

By promoting events and activities both on the campus and across the local area, the benefits are wider, reaching more people and fostering a greater sense of community, with people of different backgrounds and ages coming to Paddington Central.

Meadows concludes: “One of the things that’s wonderful about designing and managing places for wellbeing is that people don’t need to make a conscious effort to do something healthy – they benefit simply by being in that environment.”

Tagged in: HAPPINESS, HEALTH, PADDINGTON CENTRAL, WELLBEING

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