How to design a healthy office that’s also an inspiring workplace

Bluebottle Architecture & Design created the interior of Myo Liverpool Street, the second flexible office space from Landsec. Now, Bolivar Marcon and Frans Burrows join us in this first of two articles, discussing office interior design, how the workspace functions, and its key design objective – health and wellbeing.

Meet the experts in office design

With expertise in home and office design, Bluebottle was perfectly primed to tackle a shared workspace for flexible office working.

Bluebottle was founded 20 years ago by Frans Burrows and a partner. Keen not to be too pigeonholed, the firm has always been interested in a mixture of residential and commercial projects. Subsequently, blurring the lines between the office and home spaces is an area that has fascinated Frans and his team; making them perfectly suited to designing a flexible office for today’s hybrid workforce. 

Bolivar was an integral member of the team, but he is quick to let us know that the design for collaborative workspace Myo was a project that touched many people at the firm. His background is architecture with a leaning towards interior design. In his view the most exciting part of the project is the interiors, where you can focus on the experience of people and have the opportunity to play with emotion.

Exceeding the standard for office wellbeing

The energy that goes into an office interior looking to achieve the WELL accreditation is not to be dismissed

A positive challenge for the team was Landsec’s commitment to the WELL accreditation. Many of Bluebottle’s clients are also looking to secure this international accolade, which sets apart buildings that have wellness and health built into the design, according to a strict criterion. However, the work that goes into ensuring the design meets the WELL guidelines is significant. 

Of the WELL guidelines Frans said: “When you have an educated client – giving the customer the full experience, it allows the architect to design the space as it should be, and it further educates clients and tenants of the sort of heights we should always be striving for in terms of wellness.

“It’s the right thing to ensure that you are optimizing a building in this way and the intention is always there, but the reality for many developers is that budget gets in the way. One of the great aspects of Myo Liverpool Street is Landsec’s commitment to WELL, there was no question that we were going to achieve the highest possible accolade.”

Myo Liverpool Street has been awarded with a pre-certified Gold from the WELL Institute.

Material considerations in office design

Natural fibres and careful construction create feel-good furniture.

The WELL accreditation criteria also helped to inform the vision for materials. The team have opted for natural fibres throughout such as wool, cotton, linen, and timber. “These are the nicest fabrics to work with”, explains Bolivar. “A real problem in London is that there is a lot of plastic that is trying to look like marble, or timber. We tried to have only genuine materials throughout.”

Even with these materials, how they were stuck together was examined, as WELL’s air quality standards set restrictions on formaldehyde, which meant some furniture’s adhesives were not fit for purpose and were excluded from the project. Customers can be reassured that all of the furniture in Myo Liverpool Street is completely WELL accredited.

Healthier and safer, inside the office

The commitment to WELL helped us to adapt the project when the pandemic hit

Myo Liverpool Street was designed before Covid-19. At the moment the pandemic hit, the challenges raised in some cases, such as air quality, were already in hand, but the team had to pivot in some areas to ensure the end result was right. 

“Really good design are the things you don’t notice,” says Bolivar.

  • Plugs perfectly placed where you want to sit with your laptop or charge your phone
  • Seating areas with an outside view
  • Artwork hung so can be seen when you sit down.

When Covid-19 hit, the way the occupiers of the space would be using it potentially changed. 

“There were lots of things to think about,” says Bolivar. “For example, we were keen to make sure that there are plug sockets in the corners of the rooms in case of social distancing.

“We also looked at the big meeting tables and how they could be adapted into smaller laptop tables for people to work independently. Furthermore, it was at this point, we shifted to using anti-microbial materials such as brass for doorknobs.”

Flexible workspaces for changing needs

A flexible office creates design challenges far beyond a static space.

Myo Liverpool Street is designed so that customers can adapt the space for different needs, be that a collaborative project that requires a big meeting room, a space for an evening drinks reception, or a quiet spot to concentrate. 

The team worked hard to ensure that everything could be adjusted: curtains, soundproof screens and easy-to-move partitions. They even ensured the furniture was stackable or lightweight enough for the Myo team to deal with on a daily basis. 

In a post-pandemic world, businesses will be demanding wellness as a built-in component of the office space they occupy. Thankfully, Bluebottle had already ensured that Myo Liverpool Street was created with nothing but wellness in mind. 

This is part one of a two part interview with Bluebottle. Read part two about Creating atmosphere with interior design at Myo Liverpool Street.

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