Commercial towers need to stay ahead of the game and constantly look for ways to bring new kinds of value to their tenants. As a new generation of workers continues to march up the ranks of the workforce, new expectations are being set – and bringing a tailored focus on wellness within commercial buildings offers a potential solution.
In this new economy, wellness is more than an act, it is an embedded identity and lifestyle driver. Businesses with foresight that are able to capitalise on this growing movement can bring the real world benefits that can be gained by practising wellness.
‘Wellness’ is not a new concept, nor is it a new concept in design. But what is often not understood is the multifaceted ways in which wellness can be experienced. The six dimensions of wellness by Dr Bill Hettler developed in 19771 still stand true as pillars to strive towards for a completely holistic outcome – physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual and environmental.
When extrapolating out the insights into the rise of wellness, it becomes clear that in the next decades the demand for integrated, tailored wellness spaces in commercial buildings will become the norm. And those that don’t keep up will be left behind.
Where is this new focus for health and wellbeing coming from? By understanding the context and drivers, businesses will be able to better position themselves as leaders in this space, anticipating what’s around the corner.
There is a new generation of workers taking over the workforce. They are savvy and tech-focused, but they also choose to work in an incredibly different way to both the Baby Boomers and Gen X that came before them. More than any other demographic, Millennials are shaping the world of work to suit their lifestyle and their convictions.
In addition, Millennials spend more than any other demographic on health and wellbeing2. Wellness is a daily pursuit. In this lens, and drawing it out to a natural conclusion, it becomes apparent that this is having a widespread impact on business – and will continue to do so into the future.
Technology is here to stay and it won’t be long before humans are embedding themselves with devices. But the proliferation of social media, email and an ‘always on’ switch in behaviour is leaving people feeling fatigued. Where is the time to relax? Enter the need for wellness.
Convenience overrides all else
The UN has projected that 68% of the world’s population will be living in urban centres by 20503. City living brings convenience – it’s fast-paced and frenetic. What could be more convenient than a selection of wellness orientated classes, retreats and food options in the building you work from? It’s this convenience factor that plays into the decision making process.
Although there are some outstanding examples of wellness spaces popping up, the challenge for leasing agents and facility managers is in being on the front foot.
Commercial buildings have a unique challenge. Space is a commodity and ensuring that every square metre is used to its absolute maximum is essential. Up to now the insertion of wellness-type spaces into commercial property has been adhoc, lacking the kind of strategic, curated approach that ensures success. Current trends have shown ‘multipurpose’ rooms being inserted into previously dead space. Although starting to tap into the value of underutilised areas, all too often these additions are ill equipped to manage the demands of the users. They lack flexibility, direction and an overarching layer of management to see them thrive.
Just as the definition for wellness encompasses an array of facets, the examples of how wellness spaces are currently being executed also varies. Tapping into a mix of physical and environmental factors, as well as opportunities for emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing – these exemplar projects indicate just some of the directions spaces like this could take in a commercial environment.
Recently opened in New York, The Well takes the concept of wellness to all-new heights. Combining the expected fitness and gym spaces, The Well goes beyond for a holistic execution by also integrating a healing centre, meditation space alongside a library, restaurant, and steam and sauna. This project truly considers the six dimensions and how a single commercial offering can align with a new generation of patrons.
Focused and foodie
Playing on the need to unplug, Humming Puppy yoga studios’ provide a completely immersive and multi-sensory studio space, and in this way it differentiates itself from other yoga spaces.
Paramount Recreation Club in Sydney responds to the cultural norms of its locale to provide guests a highly curated offering of fitness and food through a series of personal training, studio and treatment rooms, alongside a health-focused food kiosk.
Extending the offer
Seeing the opportunity to provide its tenants with an A-Grade wellness experience, Gray Puksand has been working with premier Melbourne tower 101 Collins Street to create a highly curated offering. The new space includes multipurpose studio spaces, consulting suites and a management agreement to bring yoga, Pilates and barre classes to life.
Architecturally speaking, what sets this project apart is the integration of natural light through the insertion of skylights – this biophilic addition is not only a nod to health and wellbeing but ensures the project has longevity and immediate usability.
Where to from here?
While all of the existing precedents offer a range of possible outcomes, it’s important to note that there is no single solution.
Curated and tailored
As the wellness revolution progresses, it will not be enough to simply have a multi-use space in your commercial building. The real opportunity lies in creating a highly targeted and tailored offering. From a combination of quiet, relaxation spaces to functional, built for purpose fitness studios among others. In addition, there needs to be consideration for ancillary services, such as juice bars and fast, convenient, healthy food selections.
Ultimately, someone needs to operate these services. The most successful wellness spaces will collaborate to bring in management agreements that become a win-win for both parties. It’s a true collaboration in that these operational partners can excel at what they’ve built a brand around, bringing expertise and credibility.
These are the key considerations when undertaking a wellness project in a commercial environment:
- Provide built-in flexibility
- A holistic view of wellness – thinking of it as more than ‘fitness’
- Wherever possible consider biophilic design solutions – access to daylight with the inclusion of greenery and natural materials
- Provide a mix of private vs public spaces
- Businesses need to factor in that these spaces can be services heavy
- Consider the integration of management agreements to provide and run the services such as food kiosks, juice bars and fitness classes
About the Author
Dale is an Interior Designer with the primary focus of leading workspace, retail and commercial refurbishment projects at Gray Puksand.
Dale has demonstrated experience over many years across a wide range of commercial, workspace, hospitality, industrial and residential projects.
Passionate about design, Dale’s excellent and accomplished skills and an intimate understanding of construction methodology, programming and consultant coordination, enables him to produce work at the cutting edge of design. Dale’s strength in providing the best possible project outcomes lie in strategic facility planning, maximising yield and nett return for the client, reinforced with solid design and commercial awareness.