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Human-Centred Design

An innovative engagement process that puts wellbeing at the heart of building design.

An innovative engagement process that puts wellbeing at the heart of building design.

We believe that the future of sustainable design lies in an approach that puts the health and wellbeing of individuals and ultimately, society, at its heart.

Wellbeing can be defined in a number of ways depending on the context, whether that’s physical or mental wellbeing.

More and more evidence and guidance is making its way from the medical and research world into the construction industry, highlighting the impact the built environment has on both our physical and mental wellbeing.

Wellbeing in practice

In order to help make sense of the breadth of these aspects, Human-Centred Design considers a range of nine physical and perceptual aspects including environmental comfort, human interaction and organisational culture.

The physical parameters of health and wellbeing tend to be more tangible, the attributes of a building that we might be able to easily define or measure such as light, temperature and air quality.

The aspects of a building design that have an impact on our psychological or mental wellbeing are less straight forward to define but can have as significant an impact. These aspects encompass flexibility, connection to nature and a sense of ownership or belonging. 

However the boundaries of these wellbeing parameters is often unclear with some aspects having an impact on both physical and psychological wellbeing.

Understanding the complexities and interconnected nature of these wellbeing parameters at the very beginning of a building project is the only way to deliver environments that maintain, at their heart, the wellbeing of those that inhabit them. We see the application of the Human-Centred Design tool as a fantastic opportunity to engage on a very deep level with the building users. This in-depth engagement in the early stages of a project will ensure that meaningful and succinct ambitions can be captured in the brief and embedded within the design of the building.



Human-Centred Design engagement process

Human-Centred Design uses an interactive web-based survey to engage with a broad spectrum of building users and commissioning teams to establish their specific priorities relating to wellbeing. The data collected forms a set of Human-Centred Design indicators and is used by our inter-disciplinary design teams to make informed and timely decisions that promote and embody the values of health and wellbeing. This encompasses everything from building layout and plan organisation through to environmental design solutions, materials and specification of systems.

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Human-Centred Design Team

Caroline Paradise
Head of design research

Philip Watson
UK design director