Location: United Kingdom, London
Area: 1,083 m2
Photographs: Peter Wuermli, Neil Kenyon
Certifications: WELL Building Standard,Gold
The new HQ focuses on wellbeing and productivity.
International property developer HB Reavis moved into its new UK headquarters at 33 Central in the City of London in February 2019. Working with Swiss architecture and design studio Evolution Design, the company has implemented a people-centric design approach, creating a variety of bright and inspiring spaces, tailored to suit different tasks. The office, which also acts as a showcase space for the brand, demonstrates HB Reavis’ innovative approach to development and incorporates state-of-the-art facilities, including technology that monitors lighting, air quality and
noise pollution in real time.
HB Reavis UK previously occupied two floors of a nearby office building that didn’t encourage internal communication or support collaboration or informal socialising. The former location also lacked a diversity of work environments, had poor lighting and air quality and did not encourage mobility.
«The goal for HB Reavis’ new UK office was to deliver a more collaborative working environment by creating a space that breaks down departmental silos and enhances staff communication,» says Evolution Design executive director Stefan Camenzind. «With our workspace concept, we aimed to improve employee wellbeing and boost productivity.»
In practice, creating flexible cross-departmental collaboration is achieved by forming small teams of varied specialists, often joined by colleagues from other HB Reavis’ locations.
«To support the formation of these teams, the new HQ combines activity-based workspaces with hot-desking to create an environment that empowers people to work in a way that best suits the task at hand,» says Camenzind. Evolution Design involved the HB Reavis staff throughout the entire design process by forming a steering committee of departmental representatives and carrying out extensive research to identify detailed needs and requirements.
Staff were empowered to make decisions about their future workplace and this regular interaction also provided the interior architects with valuable insights and enabled the practice to deliver a finely balanced spatial design that enables employees to be more empowered and productive. Research shows that the single most effective method of reducing stress at work is to provide employees with the
right type of spaces for the task they are undertaking. The new office includes quiet areas, focus booths and phone boxes for individual work, along with a variety of informal and formal meeting rooms and creative areas.
Instead of having assigned individual workstations, there are flexible team spaces fitted with shared sit/stand desks.
«The office is also designed to encourage people to move around and be more active during working hours, as movement and activity are crucial for energy and health,» says Camenzind. Another important aspect of the design was to enable staff to connect. The new workspace houses a large employee hub offering a coffee point and snacks, which encourages staff from different teams and different departments to
meet informally, chat, exchange ideas and be inspired by others. Eating and socializing together help to build relationships – it is another positive impact on general wellbeing.
Aesthetically, the space has an industrial feel that reflects HB Reavis’ construction background, with materials including brick, reclaimed wood and metal along with an exposed ceiling and Crittal window-style partition walls.
Furniture from Scandinavian and Dutch brands add refinement to the scheme.
Biophilic features also play an important role. Wellbeing is increased when there’s a direct connection to the natural world and the office is filled with plants, foliage walls and sustainable wood finishes, while the large windows, overlooking the City and the River Thames, flood the space with natural light, reducing reliance on artificial blue light.
Incorporating high specification finishes and quality materials with a focus on sustainability, the HB Reavis UK headquarters is one of the only buildings in London targeting a WELL Gold Certification. Materials, finishes and furnishings have been guided by the IWBI’s WELL Building Standard and the high standard of construction and finishing enables HB Reavis to use the space as a showcase for the brand.
Technology for wellbeing.
Following the IWBI‘s WELL Building Standard, the workplace design aims to address the health issues associated with modern offices, such as lack of mobility, bad lighting, and poor air quality.
The office building incorporates several sensory technologies to assess – in real time – whether the spaces are operating as they should. All rooms measure CO2, noise, luminance, temperature and VOC levels, with an alert system that suggests how users can improve the environment to ensure maximum productivity and wellbeing.
The HB Reavis UK office creates a future-proof working environment, which could be recognized as leading by example – illustrating that a work environment can boost staff wellbeing and improve productivity. Along with materials, finishes and furnishings guided by the WELL Building Standard, good light levels, daylight harvesting, and clean air monitoring ensure the quality of work environment.
Just one week after moving in, the HR team reported a significant improvement in the general morale among staff as the first direct positive result of the new office environment. «We’ve already observed a rise in motivation and efficiency,» says Gareth Richardson, HR Business Partner at HB Reavis.