Restorative spaces: Birmingham
Giulia Mori, Energy & Sustainability Consultant at TFT, continues to talk about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and the role of restorative spaces to help us disconnect and revive away from the working environment.
In this series, we’ll explore the cities in which our TFT offices are based, gauging how each provides restorative space, starting with Birmingham city centre.
Birmingham, the second largest UK city, has a rich working history which grew rapidly after the industrial revolution. It has ancient monuments, conservation areas as well as over a thousand listed buildings, but it is missing something more important to our everyday lives: ample spaces to improve one’s mental and physical wellbeing.
The TFT Birmingham office is located in the middle of the city centre and neighboured by the historic Victoria Square with its pedestrian and cycle access, featuring the Birmingham museum and art gallery and some green space: St Phillip’s Cathedral Square, home to the 18th century Gothic church. There are certainly cultural as well as commercial destinations in the city centre.
There are also areas integrating biophilic features* within the wider city, such as Eastside City Park and the City Centre Gardens, but it is easy to imagine how such a densely built area could do with more public biophilic amenities that might rejuvenate some areas, tempting residents and workers to indulge in a different lunch time walk every day or even encourage them to change their commute.
The private and the public sector could work together to integrate connected public green space and car free areas to support the wellbeing and activity levels of people living and working in such a central neighbourhood and possibly help mitigating the urban heat island effect and support the local fauna.
One solution is an initiative, such as Wild West End in London, where large property owners are working together to encourage flora and fauna back into central areas of the city by ‘re-wilding’ their rooftops, terraces and other spaces in to better and healthier places for residents, workers and visitors to enjoy. The progress of Wild West End shows that companies need not wait for government intervention to improve spaces, and that one’s own real estate can contribute to a wider impact.
Using supportive biophilic design in our local spaces we can help communities thrive, inside as well as outside the office.
*biophilic features: this includes green features as well as water fountains and use of natural materials such as stone and timber.