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The 5 Most Innovative Schemes That Make Buildings Active

The layout of many buildings can be a major barrier to creating active spaces but with some creativity and innovation, any building should have the potential to generate more activity for users.

With office workers being particularly at risk of living very sedentary lifestyles (and the health consequences of this) there has been significant research into building designs that address this issue. As the link between fitness and wellbeing is becoming more recognised and acknowledged by employers, active buildings and initiatives that promote healthy lifestyles are becoming a big priority.

Here are five of the most innovative designs/schemes that make buildings active:

1. Prominent Staircases that Form Part of an Experience - The Museum of Modern Art

Through the implementation of prominent and captivating staircase designs, the MoMA in New York is not only one of the world’s most admired art galleries, it is also one of the most admired active buildings. In fitting with the building’s purpose to provide visitors with access to view outstanding art collections, the actual staircases could also be described as works of art that should be appreciated individually. With corridors and staircases lined with artwork and the famous Bauhaus staircase, gallery visitors are enticed along the more active option of taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

2. Etsy’s Headquarters - Active Design

Etsy is a brand that is synonymous with modern day living and quirky, creative products so naturally the employees working at the headquarters would be a reflection of this. So when the building was designed, they wanted to provide employees with the right environment to evoke creativity and support healthy lifestyles. Etsy won the 2017 Excellence Award for Center for Active Design with their innovative building layout and overall design. The building incorporates plenty of visible greenery and easily accessible stairs throughout the building.

The building allows ‘self author’ of space, meaning that different employees could walk around to find somewhere suitable for them to work, such as the roof terraces and the building also has onsite yoga and meditation rooms.

3. Twentytwo’s Climbing Window

The skyscraper 22 Bishopsgate building that is currently under construction will stand out for all of the right reasons. Its glazed façade will illuminate London’s skyline, and the interior isn’t too bad either - if the plans are anything to go by. The design team behind 22 have been working hard to deliver one of London’s most exciting workspaces when it is completed in 2019. Planned out to the finest detail, the building will have pretty much anything an employee could want from their place of work.

Employee wellbeing is one of the main focuses of the design and employees will benefit from use of the modern gym facilities and the city’s first ever ‘climbing window’. The building is being registered for WELL certification, further outlining the commitment to improving employee health through design.

Climbing enthusiasts of all levels will have the opportunity to take a break and climb the windows, getting in some exercise whilst being able to enjoy the outstanding views across the city. Climbing is great for strength building, stamina and its problem-solving nature will help employees to clear their head from work for a short while. With such an exhilarating activity to take part in, adventurous employees will be able to return from their lunch break feeling energised and ready to take on the world!

4. Office Layout – Increasing Distances

UCL’s Dr Marcella Ucci was asked about a research project on designing ‘low-fat’ active office buildings as part of the Design Council’s Active by Design campaign. The research is still on-going but they are looking at the impact of restructuring office layouts to add more distance between the main areas that people need to walk to. For example, positioning the printer and refreshment areas further away to add more steps into the average working day.

5. StepJockey

Sometimes designing a new building or a new office layout just isn’t feasible but there are still active building solutions like StepJockey to help companies to create healthier workspaces. Many people are becoming increasingly aware of the recommended step count and StepJockey takes that to the next level by measuring staircase steps. Employees download an app that tracks stair use and teams can sign up for challenges and incentives to make it really fun. Another element of the StepJockey initiative is to have highly visible signs in the stairways to show stair users how many calories they are burning.

StepJockey is proud to be making offices healthier and more productive all over the world. Find out how we use the stairs to make it happen!

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